Distilling Herbs into Hydrosols

What is a hydrosol? 

Hydrosol is another name for a distilled plant or flower water.  We obtain hydrosols by heating freshly harvested herbs or flowers with water, and then capturing and cooling the steam back into a water.  Hydrosols are also called hydrolat's, flower/floral waters, and aromatic plant waters.  They are not the same as a product containing essential oils dissolved and/or diluted with water.  

Hydrosols are distinctly different from their essential oil counterparts because the plant's volatile components are still held suspended within the water, they have not yet separated out in an essential oil.  This makes them ideal for all water situations, especially skin care where our bodies are made up of 70% water.  Hydrosols are easily absorbed into the skin without any sort of carrier necessary.

How are hydrosols made?

Freshly harvested herbs are loaded into our traditional copper stills with fresh spring water.  We gently heat the herbs and water, capturing the steam into the hat of the still.  From the hat the steam travels through a copper coil submersed in cold water and returns to its water state.  It is now in 2 forms, the hydrosol and the essential oil (if present).  The liquids run into a separatory funnel where the essential oil will typically float to the top of the hydrosol.  The hydrosol is drained into sterile containers, filtered, and bottled as fresh, unadulterated hydrosol.  

How are hydrosols used?

A hydrosol that has not been adulterated with preservatives may be used in many of the same ways the fresh or dried herb is used.   Uses include:

Skin Care:

Apply to face, skin, and hair liberally after bathing or cleansing.  Hydrosols are naturally pH balanced to help restore and replenish moisture to your skin.  Follow with your favorite lotion, serum, or body butter to seal in the moisture and harness the plant magic.

Use hydrosols in place of water in any mask, lotion, or gel treatment.

In an herbal soak.  Hydrosols are the ideal choice over an essential oil in the bath or anywhere with water.  Hydrosols are made up of water while having similar plant components as the essential oil, but they readily mix into water where essential oils will separate.

Hydrosols are the basis for many clean, organic skin care lines.  They are used as an ingredient in cleansers, toners, lotions, gels, and serums.  They also make delightful ingredients in shampoo and conditioners or any formulation where water is typically used.

 

Aromatherapy:

​Hydrosols have many of the same benefits as their essential oil counterpart.  However, hydrosols are much less concentrated, and this makes them idea for everyday use, for individuals who find essential oils too strong for them, and vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and pets where essential oils are not recommended for general use.

Hydrosols may be diffused or sprayed into the air to treat a whole area or room, or they may spray directly onto the face/body for a more personal application.

 

Herbal Treatments:

Combine with hot water and honey for an herbal infusion.

Use in place of or added to a poultice (yarrow is a must have in our family apothecary).

Hydrosols are a great addition to any herbal medicine cabinet or apothecary.