Simply put, hydrosol is the aromatic water that remains after steam-distilling botanical material. During essential oil distillation, pressurized steam passes through the plant product extracting the essential oils contained within the plant material. The steam and oil are condensed, the essential oil is decanted from the top of the oil/water mixture, and the water-based product left is hydrosol.
Hydrosol contains trace amounts of essential oils, as well as other hydrophilic (water-soluble) compounds native to the plant material. Generally speaking, the hydrosol contains the water-soluble chemicals from the plant, while the essential oil contains the hydrophobic, or non-water-soluble, chemicals. This helps explain the subtle differences in aroma and therapeutic quality between the essential oil and hydrosol derived from the same plant. Hydrosols still have the beautiful scent of the plant but tend to be gentler in nature.
In her book Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy, Suzanne Catty states the following, “Hydrosols contain all of the plant in every drop… Here we have the water-soluble components, the essential-oil molecules, the very fluid that was flowing through the plant cells when the plant was collected. It’s all there in a matrix of water that is so much more than water…”.
It’s important to note that hydrosols are not simply essential oils blended into the water to form a mixture, rather they are the result of essential oil distillation. The best hydrosols are distilled from fresh, vibrant plant material and aren’t a byproduct of an essential oil distillation – they are the focus of the distillation!
One of the great benefits of hydrosols is the variety of ways they can be incorporated into your daily life. The uses of hydrosols are wide-ranging, and because of their gentle nature, they can be used immediately without further dilution. They are also safe for use with children and have very few safety concerns. Below are some of our favorite ways to use these beautiful distillate waters:
- Acne Treatment
- Anti-bacterial Spray
- Anti-inflammatory agent
- Bathroom Freshener
- Beverage Flavoring
- Burn Relief
- Car Freshener
- Cleaning Product Base or Ingredient
- Facial Treatment
- General Health Tonic
- Immune System Support
- Insect Repellent
- Linen & Garment Spray
- Lymph System Support
- Natural Deodorant
- Perfume Base
- Room Freshener
- Situational Anxiety Relief
- Situational Depression Relief
- Skin Moisturizer
- Skin Toner
- Sunburn Relief
- Wound Care
Hydrosols are amazingly versatile in that they can be used by themselves or can be incorporated as an ingredient in a more complex aromatherapy blend.
Hydrosol Safety and Storage
There are some things to consider when working with hydrosols. Hydrosols have a 1-2 year shelf life and should be used within this period to avoid bacterial growth and keep the therapeutic vibrancy this product intact. Hydrosols are perfect candidates for the refrigerator! If you do notice any kind of bloom-forming in your hydrosol, you would want to replace this product with a fresh batch right away. Hydrosols do best in a sterile environment and anytime you are putting hydrosol into a bottle, and you want it or a blend to last for more than 1 week, you would want to sterilize the container with grain alcohol before filling it with hydrosol.
Hydrosols are gentle and perfect for young kids and children in general. A little German chamomile on a bruise or scrape is perfect for active kids to help them heal even faster from injury. A teaspoon of elderflower hydrosol in a tall glass of water can really help boost the immune system.
Below are 5 of our favorite recipes where hydrosol shines as an ingredient alongside its essential oil counterparts:
- 5 drops of Sandalwood Oil Santalum album
- 5 drops of Neroli Oil Citrus aurantium var. Amara
- 5 drops of Carrot Seed Oil Daucus carota
- 4 oz. of Yarrow Hydrosol Achillea millefolium
- 1 – PET bottle with spray cap
- Blend the essential oils in a 4 oz. spray bottle of yarrow hydrosol. While our yarrow hydrosol comes in a 100ml/3.4 fl oz size it would also work great to just combine the essential oils right into the bottle of yarrow hydrosol. No need for a separate spray bottle. Shake well before each use.
- 20 drops of Cedarwood Oil Juniperus virginiana
- 15 drops of Palmarosa Oil Cymbopogon martinii var. motia
- 15 drops of Eucalyptus Citriodora Oil Eucalyptus citriodora
- 10 drops of Patchouli Oil Pogostemon cablin
- 5 drops of Peppermint Oil Mentha x piperita
- 2 oz. of Catnip Hydrosol Nepeta cataria
- 2 oz. of Peppermint Hydrosol Mentha x piperita
- 20-30 drops of Solubol (Dispersant)
- 1 – PET Bottle with Spray Cap
- Combine the essential oils with 2 oz. of Peppermint Hydrosol and Catnip Hydrosol in a PET plastic spray bottle.
- Add the Solubol (Dispersant) and shake gently to blend
- Spray often!
- 10 drops of Yarrow Oil Achillea millefolium
- 10 drops of Helichrysum italicum Oil (Croatia) Helichrysum italicum
- 10 drops of Rock Rose Oil Cistus ladanifer
- 2 oz. of Yarrow Artisan Hydrosol Achillea millefolium
- 0.5 oz. or 120 drops of Solubol (Dispersant)
- 1 – PET Bottle with Spray Cap
- Add the essential oils to the Yarrow Artisan Hydrosol
- Add the Solubol (Dispersant) and gently shake to blend.
- Shake well before spraying.
- 10 drops of Black Spruce Oil Picea mariana
- 10 drops of Mandarin (Green) Oil Citrus reticulata
- 7 drops of Oregano Oil Origanum vulgare
- 1 drop of Neroli Oil Citrus aurantium var. Amara
- 2 oz. of Lemon Thyme Hydrosol Thymus citriodoris
- Add the essential oils to 2 oz. of lemon thyme hydrosol.
- Shake gently to blend the hydrosol and oils.
- Spray onto affected areas at least 3 times a day.
- 1 drop of Rosemary ct Verbenone Oil Rosmarinus officinalis ct verbenone
- 1 drop of Cypress Oil Cupressus sempervirens
- 2 tsp of French Green Clay
- Enough to blend mask Frankincense Hydrosol Boswellia carterii
- Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl.
- Once mixed, apply liberally to face and neck.
- Leave on for 10-15 minutes.
We had fun creating this blend on Facebook Live recently. Click HERE to watch a replay of our live event.
We love hydrosols so much that we craft a few of our own! You can read all about the experience shared on our blog by clicking here: “The Secret Joy of a Lavender Harvest”.
We also documented the distillation process on video. You can see all the action here: Lavender Harvest & Hydrosol Distillation