Hydrosols are one of our favourite products at Barakah Botanicals. Many of ours are steam or hydro distilled by us in a traditional alembic copper still, from botanical materials we harvest ourselves in a process that’s delightfully aromatic and just a little magic.
But we often get questions about how they’re made and how to use them, so we’ve set out to answer them all in one place.
What are hydrosols?
Hydrosols are a synergy of water and flowers, herbs, or other plant parts. A common hydrosol that is familiar to many of us is the delightful Rose Water. A hydrosol is the pure water that is produced during distillation, where steam or water is passed through plant material, evaporated and condensed again.
It’s an ancient process, at least 1000 years old, and possibly closer to 4000 years old. Distillation is now most commonly done for the essential oils but that wasn’t always the case. Hydrosols were once the main product of the distillation process. The usually smell very similar to their essential oil but not as strong.
Hydrosols or hydrolats can be a by-product of the essential oil distillation process, but we find the best hydrosols are distilled for the hydrosol itself in small batches in traditional fashion in alembic copper stills.
These hydrosols are artisanal products, that start when we hand-pick the plant flowers or leaves, from chemical-free local growers, and then distil it with rainwater. The resulting hydrosol is the best way to capture the healing water-soluble elements of the plant.
Why use hydrosols?
Our bodies are around 60% water. Water-based hydrosols are gentle, effective, safe for children and during pregnancy and breastfeeding, times when some essential oils are not recommended.
They provide a refreshing natural aroma, without the synthetic chemicals used in commercial fragranced products. This is especially beneficial for people with fragrance allergies and intolerances.
Because they’re so gentle (you can drink them or add them to drinks for flavour) they don’t come with the same precautions as essential oils. If you feel you don’t know enough to safely get started with essential oils, hydrosols are the perfect place to start for aroma, mood-regulation & skin & hair benefits.
How do I use hydrosols?
However you like but here are some of the most common ways they’re used:
- Facial toner
- Body Spray
- In hair & skin masks
- With Cleansing Grains to wash the face
- Cool a hot flash
- Gentle, non-irritating perfume
- Soothe sunburns & skin irritation
- Room Spray
- Linen or Clothing Spray
- Diffuse in an essential oil diffuser
- Make your own wet wipes – especially great with cloth wipes for babies.
- In a sitz bath
- Natural, non-irritating air freshener
- Flavouring in water ( try 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of water)
- Hair or Beard Spray – we love Rosemary Hydrosol for this
- Scalp spray – to soothe irritation or dryness, and encourage scalp health
- In DIY creams, lotions or soaps
- In a bath
- For itchy, dry, irritated skin conditions, including infections and inflammation (depending on the type of hydrosol)
Are hydrosols, floral waters and hydrolats the same?
Hydrosols can’t be created synthetically in a lab. Hydrosols might also be sold as hydrolats or floral waters. This mixing of names can be confusing, because you can also find ‘hydosols’ sold that are actually just water and a few drops of essential water combined, although these are more commonly sold as ‘floral waters’.
Do I need to dilute hydrosols?
In general, no, they’re already mostly water. If you’re concerned about possible reactions or you have a small child with health issues, you can always patch test the product before applying it more liberally.
What’s the shelf life of hydrosols?
Because hydrosols are mostly water, with tiny amounts of volatile oils and plant components, they do not usually have the same shelf life as essential oils. Most hydrosols have a 1 year life span, and should be stored in the fridge when not in use.
For our in-house hydrosols, the production date of your hydrosol is written on your label. We recommend storing your hydrosol in a cool dark place – or the fridge – and using within 6 months of purchase. Our product contains no preservatives so if it changes smell or appearance discard the remainder.
For more info on hydrosols we love Jeanne Rose’s book 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.
If you’ve still got questions ask us in the comments.