What is a hydrosol?
There are two products received when distilling aromatic plants. (1) The essential oil and (2) a hydrosol, which can often be referred to as a hydrolat. Hydrosols are the therapeutic waters produced from the steam distillation process. A hydrosol must be a product of distillation to be genuine. Hydrosols contain various percentages of naturally emulsified volatile plant aromatics. You can consider them the homeopathic version of the essential oil, containing many, but not all, of its chemical constituents. If you would like to learn more about the steam distillation process and another type of extraction called CO2 distillation, check out our blog.
Hydrosols can be used safely with children, elderly or infirmed and even for pets, without negative side effects, due to their gentle therapeutic nature. The best hydrosols are obtained from distilling fresh plant material, not dried. The highest quality hydrosols are achieved when the distillation is specifically performed to produce the hydrosols. Not as a by-product of essential oil distillation.
It is important for a consumer who may purchase a hydrosol, to do their due diligence before making the purchase. Again, these precious authentic therapeutic/medicinal waters can only be produced through the distillation process. You may often find retailers selling what they refer to as, aromatic waters, floral waters, fragrant waters, prepared waters, essential waters. (See Understanding Hydrolats. By Price) None of which are a product of distillation, and often adulterated with synthetic constituents. Attempting to mimic a true hydrosol.
A consumer may opt to have a hydrosol GC/MS tested to find out what chemical constituents are in a particular hydrosol. (See The Circle H Institute) The Circle H Institute is dedicated to the research, education and promotion of hydrosols. You may want to consider becoming a member.
You may use a hydrosol for anything that you would use water for. Adding aromatic and therapeutic benefits to any of your recipes. Such as mouthwashes and toners. You can use them in the water phase of emulsified products, such as lotions and crèmes. You can add hydrosols to concentrated juices, teas, or apothecary cocktails, my personal favorite, and other culinary dishes. Hydrosols are also used in perfumery. As well as, therapeutic body sprays, room sprays, linen sprays, baths, eye drops, compresses and even cleaning. You can also use them completely undiluted depending on the person and the application. Hydrosols can be used topically and internally, to treat variety, of health concerns.
Watch Distillation in Action:
Hydrosols You May Want To Have On-Hand In Your Home:
- German & or Roman Chamomile ~ Skin concerns, anxiety, stomach issues.
- Tea Tree ~ Skin concerns, fungal issues, scrapes, burns, acne.
- Laurel Leaf ~ Bacterial or viral infections.
- Rosemary ~ Bacterial & viral infections, flu.
- Cornflower ~ Bacterial & viral infections, including conjunctivitis.
- Peppermint ~ Skin, stomach, and respiratory issues. Including food & flavoring.
- Rose ~ Skin or emotional concerns, insomnia and anxiety and depression.
- Lavender ~ Burns or other skin concerns, anxiety, insomnia, depression.
- Lemongrass ~ Bug repellant, skin concerns, stomach or digestive issues.
- Holy Basil ~ Adaptogenic, stress, anxiety, food & flavoring, apothecary cocktails, flu & viral concerns.
If this information interests you, sign up for the Institute's free class to learn all there is to know about hydrosols and essential oils!
A few vendors for authentically distilled Hydrosols:
Books to learn more about Hydrosols & their therapeutic use, in Aromatherapy:
Understanding Hydrolats, by Price
Harvest To Hydrosol by Harman
Hydrosols The Next Aromatherapy, by Catty.
375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols by J.Rose.