Very simply, a hydrosol is the water that is distilled with an essential oil. When the steam from the distilled water passes through the plant material, it takes with it the volatile oils from the plant. The two travel through the tube at the top of the steam vessel (typically copper) and down through the condensing tube. Once the water and oil have separated, the essential oil is siphoned off the top and what you have left is the hydrosol.
A hydrosol, according to Suzanne Catty, is a chemistry term meaning “water solution.” Hydrosols are also known by a variety of other names:
- floral waters or
- plant waters
Catty goes on to say it is important to note that hydrosols are NOT simply distilled water with essential oils added to them. In this case, the two do not mix. Some of the water-soluble plant oils will combine with the water and impart therapeutic properties. This creates a much gentler, more diluted product which is generally safer to use than an essential oil.
How can I use a Hydrosol?
We use hydrosols in a variety of ways. They are essentially safe for anyone to use. They can be used undiluted on skin, children, and most pets. You can consume them, use them in DIY products (like lotions), or spray on your skin as a toner.
With few cautions and little to no contraindications, these truly are a perfect first-use item if you are a beginning aromatherapy enthusiast. That’s not to say there aren’t a few rules to follow. Two excellent reference books are:
- Hydrosols: The next aromatherapy by Suzanne Catty
- Understanding Hydrolats: The Specific Hydrosols for Aromatherapy by Len and Shirley Price
Hydrosols need to be stored properly. Preferably in a cool, dark environment (like a refrigerator) and checked often for any cloudiness or mold. Since hydrosols contain no preservatives, they have relatively short shelf lives of between 6 months to 2 years, depending on the hydrosol. However, since hydrosols are relatively inexpensive, it’s more economical to use them up and buy new ones when you need them.
Which hydrosols do Plant Therapy offer?
As of January 2018, Plant Therapy’s line of hydrosols includes (all certified organic):