In producing essential oils, the distillation process involves filling the still with plant material and passing steam through the plant under pressure. The pressurized steam breaks open the cells of the plant and releases its oil content. The steam and the oil molecules pass through a cooling condenser, which turns the steam back to water. The water is collected and the oil generally floats on the surface of the water. This water is the hydrosol. The essential oil is collected from the top and removed.
The hydrosol contains 99 percent water that is chemically bonded to less that 1 percent essential oil. Some of the water-soluble constituents of the plant remained married to the powerful qualities of the essential oil. This creates a perfect wedding of the herb and the oil. Hydrosols seem to be a more complete carrier of the chemical imprint of the whole plant. They may also contain constituents that do not occur in the oil.
Suzanne Catty in her book, Hydrosols, the next Aromatherapy, states that hydrosols contain all of the plant in every drop, just like a hologram.
Water with essential oil added has its benefits but is not a “true” hydrosol.
What are some traditional uses for hydrosols?
How about Lemon Balm (Melissa) in a glass of water when feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. Spritz Peppermint on face and neck when cool off is needed. Add to water to cool off in hot weather. Use as a mouthwash that can be swallowed. Lavender hydrosol is great as a toner. Most are antibacterial and antiviral. German Chamomile hydrosol is soothing, calming and emotionally uplifting. A combination of Neroli (Orange Blossom) and Rose Hydrosols is a favorite for calming hyper children and balancing brain chemistry. (I have this blend available called “Angel Essence” at a very reasonable price. ) Helichrysum Hydrosol is used for nerve pain relief.
Suzanne Caty states, “They can be played with, consumed, bathed in, washed with, poured in fountains, used on your pets, fed to your plants, and more.”
Since they are not concentrated like the oils, they are much safer to use AND they are much less expensive.
It is best to store the hydrosols in a cool, dark place and not necessarily the refrigerator. Consistency is important in the shelf life of the hydrosols. Most hydrosols should be used within 1-2 years. If they’ve gone beyond their shelf life a white cloud appears in the hydrosol. At that point, either use for a room spray or discard by watering a plant.
For more information, visit the Nature’s Gift webpage and click on “Hydrosols and Floral Waters”
Yes, I believe Hydrosols are the NEW AROMATHERAPY.