All About Hydrosols

As promised, today I’m going to share with you about the wonderful world of hydrosols! My information comes from the Aromatic Wisdom Institute’s Liz Fulcher.

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Hydrosols (also known as hydrolats) are an area of aromatherapy that are separate from, but related to essential oils. Often when people think of aromatherapy, essential oils are the first thing that comes to mind. This is an incorrect assumption. Essential oils are just a facet of aromatherapy. There are many ways to use plants as medicine, as in tea for example. Essential oils are the most potent way, and hydrosols are a safer yet still incredibly effective way.

Hydrosols are created in an extensive process in which plant solids are injected with pressurized steam. This forces the beneficial oils of the plant to be released. The steam and oil are cooled, causing the steam to condense into water. The oils then separate from the water, and the water is collected as a hydrosol.

Now, if the process is done to collect the water at the end, a hydrosol is produced. If the process is done to collect the oils at the end, an essential oil is produced. However, the process should never be done to collect both at the same time, producing one substance and then gathering the other as a “leftover”. Ethical, quality-concerned companies will either make a hydrosol or an essential oil through a single distillation process, never trying to “double duty” by making both in a single process. To do so would effect the quality of the substance in question.

Because a hydrosol is water-based, it is water soluble. It does not need any dilution and can be used anywhere on the body. Unlike essential oils, they are completely safe to use on pets, on young children, and on the elderly. They are especially helpful for skin issues such as fungus, cuts and bruises, acne, or irritation.

Because of the different chemistry in the way it is created, a hydrosol can have different properties than an essential oil from the same plant. There are similarities, of course, but differences in therapeutic properties, application and dosage, safety, and even smell can occur. That’s why it is important to be fully educated on the properties of your hydrosol or essential oil! Simply knowing the plant name alone does not cut it!

Due to their diluted nature, hydrosols are very versatile as they can be used anywhere on the body (as long as the properties of the specific substance are known). Some helpful hydrosols include:

– Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), for eyes. The hydrosol can be used as an eyewash for tired eyes, or as a cool compress to reduce inflammation in swollen or itchy eyes. Cornflower is also great for mature skin that needs extra moisturizing.

-Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) calms and cools the body. It’s great for soothing sunburn and is extremely helpful for children and pets.

-Rose (Rosa damascena). Rose hydrosol is commonly known as rosewater. It is great to use as a skin toner and it helps the skin stay moisturized. It helps with emotional balance and its soft, romantic scent is wonderful to use as a perfume or room spray!

I hope this post has been informative and helped to spark your interest in the wonderful world of hydrosols. They are truly an amazing and versatile area of aromatherapy. I love them for their effectiveness and safety. Try one sometime – I’m sure you’ll love it too!

Have you ever used a hydrosol? What have you learned about them that you never knew before? We want to hear from you!

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