What Is an Aromatherapy Hydrosol
and Some Of Its Uses?

What Is an Aromatherapy Hydrosol?

An aromatherapy hydrosol is scented water produced during the process of steam-distilling plant material to produce essential oils. These aromatherapy waters have some of the same benefits as essential oils but are more gentle, and you can sometimes use them when essential oils aren't advisable.

Also, some distillers focus only on producing these plant waters (also called hydrolates, hydrolats, or distillates), without producing essential oils. You might sometimes hear the terms floral waters or flower waters, but they aren't the same as distillates and don't have the same benefits.

Possibly the most definite book available on this topic is Suzanne Catty's Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy.

Hydrosol Quality

Just as you want to use the best quality essential oils for maximum benefit, you also want to use the best quality distillates. Aromatherapy waters are more easily contaminated in the production and shipping process than essential oils, so finding reputable suppliers is important.

Plant waters are also more fragile than essential oils and don't last as long. Storing the waters in a dark, cool place will prolong their life. Although some plant waters contain preservatives, purists believe preservatives lower quality.

Another important thing to know is that mixing essential oils and water together doesn't create a distillate. So, if you are looking at a floral water, for example, rose water, and the ingredient list is purified water and natural rose oil, it's not a hydrosol and doesn't have the same properties. (That's not to say that rose water isn't sometimes useful.)

Other products on the market that may not be real distillates are fruit-scented waters (orange, lemon, and so forth). Fruit essential oils are most often cold-pressed (with a few exceptions) from fruit skins, not distilled, so no aromatherapy water is produced. Another example is jasmine; this oil is solvent-extracted, not distilled, so, again, no hydrolat.

Skin Care

One use of aromatherapy waters is in making natural lotions, creams, and other skin care products. The following chart shows some more common distillates and their use in skin care.

Hydrosol

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)

Melissa (Melissa officinalis)

Neroli (Citrus aurantium)

Roman chamomile
(Chamaemelum nobilis)

Rose (Rosa spp.)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) verbernone

Sandalwood (Santalum album)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Ylang ylang
(Cananga odorata var. genuina)

General Use

Baby, delicate skin

Oily skin

Inflammation

Eczema and other inflammation

All skin types; also for inflammation

Baby, delicate, and mature skin

Baby, delicate skin and inflammation


Balancing and for dry skin

Balancing and for oily skin


Helps skin cells regenerate

To balance & calm; for inflammation

Oily skin

Source: Making Aromatherapy Creams and Lotions

Other Uses

You can freely drink therapeutic-grade aromatherapy waters. Although Catty provides many suggestions for internal use, the topic is too big to get into in this article. Here's a recipe she recommends for headaches:

  • 50 ml (about 10 teaspoons) peppermint hydrolat
  • 50 ml Roman chamomile hydrolat
  • 100 ml (about 6 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) water
  1. Mix together the peppermint and Roman chamomile. 
  2. Take 2 teaspoons of the mixture internally.
  3. Add the water to the remaining hydrolat mixture.
  4. Dip two compresses into the water-hydrolat blend.
  5. Place one compress on the nape of your neck and the other on your forehead.
  6. Lie down for 15 to 20 minutes.

See more suggestions for using aromatherapy distillates from the Aromatic Wisdom Institute at Practical Applications and from Jeanne Rose at the Aromatic Plant Project.

Where to Buy Aromatherapy Hydrosols

Nature's Gift

Original Swiss Aromatics

Prima Fleur

From Nature With Love




Photo Credit: Latisha (herbmother) via Photopin CC

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