Hydrosols, also known as hydrolats, aromatic waters and floral waters have similar properties as essential oils, however hydrosols are much gentler.
What is a Hydrosol?
The word Hydrosol comes from the Latin words hydro, meaning “water,” and sol, meaning “solution.” A hydrosol could be considered any water-based solution. In terms of aromatherapy, a hydrosol is the water left over after plant material is steam distilled.
How is a Hydrosol made?
One way to make a hydrosol is by adding plant material to a still, then heated, and steam is produced. Over time the steam turns to water when it is piped into the still making its way into the tube leading from the condenser. See diagram above. The condenser contains coils that run cold water. The water cools down the steam turning it back into water. The water now has the precious essential oils floating on top. When the essential oils are skimmed off, a very small amount of oil will be left behind in the water. This water is now considered a hydrosol.
Is There a Difference Between Hydrosols and Essential Oils?
While essential oils and hydrosols are both products of steam distillation, hydrosols are much gentler and have fewer cautions. Essential oils have far more safety issues, drug interactions or contraindications than hydrosols. So, essential oils and hyrdosols are similar but also very different.
What Safety Issues Need to be Considered with Hydrosols?
While hydrosols are gentle, they are water based products that contain no preservatives. As you know, over time a preservative free product may produce bacterial growth. Storing them properly is very important. I have never seen any reports of someone getting sick from using a hydrosol. However, when you buy a hydrosol, according to hydrosol distiller Laura Ellis, "A good supplier will always put Date of Distillation, pH at distillation checked with a calibrated (every time used) digital meter." This information should be readily available to everyone who purchases.
The gentle nature of hydrosols makes them an ideal alternative to essential oils for topical use on children, pregnant women, pets and sensitive areas like the face or wounds.
According to distiller, Laura Ellis, "there are contradictions with some hydrolats. Goldenrod, winter savory, sandalwood, clary sage, sage (just like the EO it requires the most skilled hand), most of the other sages too, rosemary, juniper berry, to name a few. Most cannot be used by the eye either." So if you are thinking of using a hydrosol, please do your homework as you would with an essential oil.
What is the Best Way to Store a Hydrosol?
I store my hydrosols in the refrigerator. The average shelf life is between 12-24 months. It is a good idea to write a date on the hydrosol when you receive it. You may never know when it was distilled or bottled, at least this is something you may refer to if need be.
What is the Shelf Life of a Hydrosol? 1
Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
White Sage (Salvia apiana)
Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
Melissa (Melissa officinalis)
Neroli (Citrus arurantium var. amara)
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Rose (Rose damascena)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
What are Some Ways to Use Hydrosols?
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Love and light,
Caution: The material on this page is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. Since the actual use of this product by others is beyond our control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken. Use at your own discretion. Any application of the recommendations is at the user’s risk. Sweet Willow Spirit, LLC disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this information and assumes no responsibility for any actions taken. This should not be used in place of traditional therapies but solely as a complementary means for bringing well-being. The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of any oil or healing modality.
1 - some information obtained from https://www.fromnaturewithlove.com/library/storagehydrosols.asp