If you have been following our blog, by now you know the process of steam distilling essential oils. Within our blog, you will find a lot of information on essential oils, their benefits, and ways to use them. However, aromatherapy isn’t just limited to essential oils. There are floral waters called hydrosols too.
To extract essential oils out of the plant, a process called steam distillation is the most common way to accomplish this. Large amounts of plant material are put into a vat and water is boiled underneath it. The tiny sacs of oil in the plant material pop open from the steam. The steam then goes through a cold pipe and separates the essential oil from the water (hydrosol). As they are not as potent as the oil, they are safer for animals, children, and even ingesting. Essential oils can be too concentrated for children, most animals, and ingesting. Hydrosols provide aromatherapeutic benefits with fewer safety concerns.
Hydrosol’s name is rooted in Latin; hydro meaning water while sol means solution. Hydrosols are called hydrolates, plant waters, and floral waters. The term late in hydrolate originated from the French word laite (milk); fresh hydrosol straight out of distillation often has a milky color until they settle. The plant material used for hydrosols and essential oils come from the roots, flowers, bark, resin, and even trunk of the plants. Hydrosols have unique aromas just like the oil but are far less potent making them safer for topical use, children, pets, and for diluting in water and drinking.
As with any product, especially essential oils, quality is important; therefore hydrosols should also be of the purest quality. Here are a few ways to distinguish the quality of a hydrosol.
Because hydrosols are aqueous, or water-based, they are much more susceptible to bacteria contamination and have a shorter shelf life. A good rule of thumb is to use your hydrosols within a year of purchasing them. All of our hydrosols have a best by date on the label. I recommend storing your hydrosols in the fridge. This will extend their shelf life to their full potential. If there’s a hydrosol you use every day, say as your face toner, it’s okay to keep it in the bathroom cabinet because you’ll use it up quickly. It’s also important not to introduce bacteria into them. Keep opening the cap for times when you are going to add them to water to drink.
Peppermint hydrosol is quite energizing and stimulating. Peppermint hydrosol can be drunk in the morning (diluted or undiluted) and gives you similar energy as a cup of coffee would. Peppermint is known for its digestive-supporting benefits and energy boosts. It calms and cool nerves while stimulating the brain. Peppermint hydrosol is anti-inflammatory and cooling. A digestive tract cleaner, peppermint hydrosol is supportive for all digestive issues including irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn acid reflux, and indigestion.
Frankincense hydrosol, like the essential oil, is incredible for hydrating skin, wounds, and wrinkles. Toning and softening the skin, frankincense water is a wonderful toner to spritz on your face before using your daily moisturizer. In hot and humid weather, it is especially beneficial for skin. Frankincense hydrosol is also great for reducing stress and anxiety. During meditation, spiritual practice, or prayer, frankincense water expands one’s energy and opens the solar plexus chakra.
Cooling and calming lavender water is amazing for all skin types. Lavender hydrosol soothes bug bites, small cuts and burns, and itchy rashes. Lavender across the board is good for damaged and fragile skin as it is cell regenerative. Though it can be drunk like peppermint hydrosol, it tastes very bitter and is mainly used topically. The aroma of lavender soothes anxiety and stress.
Rose geranium hydrosol, like lavender water, is another great skincare option for all skin types and ages. Rose geranium hydrosol works especially well on inflamed, hot skin, making it fantastic for soothing rosacea, and broken capillaries. Being a skincare hydrosol, rose geranium flower water calms rashes, burns, and bug bites. Rose geranium hydrosol is a humectant and makes for an impressive skin toner in general as it attracts and holds moisture to the skin. This plant water is hormonally balancing, working nicely for women with PMS, menopause, and hot flashes.
Eucalyptus hydrosol, like the essential oil, is immune and respiratory supporting. The plant water of eucalyptus is good for coughs, chest infections, colds, and hay-fever. Teachers and nurses should definitely keep this hydrosol with them when illness is present or usually around. Eucalyptus hydrosol is a great choice when feeling exhausted or around sickness. Eucalyptus hydrolate stimulates the mind and body while supporting the liver and kidneys.
What hydrosols do you use? If you haven’t had the lovely experience of hydrosols yet, which one are you excited to try?
Suzanne Catty. Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, 2001.
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