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What are Hydrosols?

So 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.

In the extraction of most essential oils, the process uses water or steam distillation.

During the steam distillation process, steam passes through the plant material. This vapour comprises of droplets of both water and essential oil. It collects in the distillation apparatus where it then cools 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 these are not necessarily in the same proportions.

Hydrosols will have similar properties to the corresponding essential oil. However they are in a much more dilute form. So therefore 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 applied directly on the skin. So they make great toners or skin fresheners. (A chilled spray bottle of hydrosol is a fabulous way to cool down on a hot day!) They are also a great base for room sprays and other water-based products. (Remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water, so you need to add dispersant along with essential oils if adding to a hydrosol.)

Hydrosols can be called by other names such as hydrolats, waters of distillation, flower waters or floral waters.  However bear in mind that not all flower or floral waters are hydrosols. Some hydrosols, can be just water, with essential oils (or fragrances & other ingredients) added. So always check ingredient lists to make sure what you are purchasing or using.