What are Hydrosols and what are they used for?
Hydrosols are a by-product (or some call them a co-product) of the process of distilling essential oils.
When most essential oils are produced, the process used is water or steam distillation.
The plant material is heated in or over water until it produces a vapour or steam which is comprised of droplets of both water and essential oil. This is collected in the distillation apparatus and cooled back into a liquid. Because water and essential oils do not mix, the resulting liquid separates into layers with the essential oil floating on the top.
The water used does however absorb some of the same chemical components as the essential oil, although not necessarily in the same proportions.
Hydrosols will have similar properties to the corresponding essential oil, but in a much more dilute form, making them particularly useful for situations where the essential oil may be too strong, such as for babies or young children, for those with sensitive skin etc.
Unlike essential oils, hydrosols can be used directly on the skin. So they make great tomers or skin fresheners. (A chilled spray bottle of hydrosol is a fabulous way to cool down on a hot day!) They also make a great base for room sprays and other water-based products. (Remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water, so a dispersant will be required if you want to add additional essential oils to your hydrosol.)
Hydrosols are also sometimes referred to as hydrolats, waters of distillation, flower waters or floral waters. However bear in mind that not all flower or floral waters are hydrosols – some are manufactured using water, essential oils or fragrances and other ingredients. Always check ingredient lists to make sure what you are purchasing or using.