What are Hydrosols?
Hydrosols are the aromatic water that is left after distilling a plant for it's essential oil. The terms hydrosol and hydrolate are interchangeable. They have traditionally been a byproduct of the essential oil process, but more and more people are distilling plants for the hydrosol itself. This has led to the availability of better quality products.
Why hydrosols? Essential oils are highly concentrated substances, and therefore require care in their use. They are usually diluted to use on skin, and even when diffusing. Essential oils are the liquid compounds from plants that don't mix with water. Hydrosols are the compounds that do, and therefore their properties are slightly different than an essential oil from the same plant.
You can't just mix essential oil with water to get a hydrosol, they have to be distilled. For the same reason, you can't get hydrosols from citrus essential oils that are pressed from the peel.
Although less concentrated than essential oils, hydrosols are 20-30 times more concentrated than a cup of herbal tea. They are also naturally acidic.
In 2001 Suzanne Catty wrote the book, Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy. This was the first book written solely on hydrosols, and is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more.
How and When to Use Hydrosols
Hydrosols should generally be used in all those cases where essential oils are not recommended. A partial list of these can be found in our Essential Oil Safety Tips blog.
With Children and Pets
Hydrosols are milder than essential oils and are generally considered safe to use around babies, kids, and pets. They should still be diluted at recommended levels.
On your skin
The water in hydrosols makes them hydrating for skin without dilution. They can be used as toners and sprays, or mixed into lotions and masks.
In your food
Yes, you can ingest hydrosols! Want to stay hydrated, but don't like plain water? Add a hydrosol to improve the taste.
For your health
An added benefit of ingesting hydrosols is that they can be good for your health as well. They can aid digestion (peppermint), help with calming (lavender), help with arthritic joints (coriander), help with constipation (rosemary), and help with headaches (roman chamomile). These are just a few of their health benefits.
In your home
Use hydrosols in a spray bottle to clean surfaces in your home. You can also make spritzes to help refresh linens and furniture. Lavender and Peppermint are good choices for cleaning.
Where to buy Hydrosols
Below are a few places we've found that sell quality hydrosols:
Mountain Rose Herbs
They have a great recipe for a focus aromatherapy mist using hydrosols here
They have a good selection of small batch hydrosols at reasonable prices.
- Plant Therapy
Do you use hydrosols? We'd love to hear how.
- The Aromatic Plant Project
- Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy by Suzanne Catty
- Lea Harris
- 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols by Leanne Rose