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Incorporating hydrosols into your lifestyle is a gentle and inexpensive way to ramp up your aromatherapy experience. Mild and nontoxic, hydrosols offer a long list of benefits without any nasty side effects.
This ultimate guide to hydrosols covers all of these topics:
What are hydrosols?
21 ways to use hydrosols
Where to buy hydrosols
How to store hydrosols
Plant Therapy hydrosols
FAQs on hydrosols
What are Hydrosols?
Hydrosols are essentially floral waters. They are the aromatic byproduct of the essential oil steam distillation process and are made up entirely of cellular botanical water.
The steam distillation process produces two end products – essential oil and hydrosol. The essential oil contains the oil-soluble components of the plant while the hydrosol contains the water-soluble components of the plant. Both products share many of the same properties. Both even have similar aromas. However, they have distinctly different potencies. Essential oils are highly concentrated while hydrosols are mostly water with very tiny amounts of essential oil.
Gentle, non-toxic, and delicately scented, hydrosols are very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. They are widely used in a variety of bath, body care, and aromatherapy formulations as well as perfumes.
How Hydrosols Are Made
Hydrosols are created during the same process used to produce essential oils.
To extract essential oils via steam distillation, various botanicals are placed along with water in specially designed steam distill equipment and heated under pressure.
The exact plant part that is used depends on the plant and the type of essential oil to be extracted. Some essential oils such as lavender, rose, and jasmine are extracted from the flowers of the plant. Essential oils of cinnamon, rosemary, and eucalyptus are extracted from the leaves or bark of the plant. Citrus oils such as grapefruit, bergamot, and lemon, are extracted from the rind of the fruit.
When the plant parts and water are heated under pressure, two things happen. The pressure extracts the oils from the plant parts and the heat converts the water to steam.
The volatile molecules that evaporate more easily are carried upwards by the steam. This steam and molecule mixture is transported over to a specially designed condensing chamber. Here, the steam converts back into water. When this happens, the oil floats to the top. This oil is the essential oil that has just been extracted and the water that is left behind is the hydrosol.
This water, or the hydrosol, is not just plain water. It contains the water-soluble components of the plant’s volatile ingredients. Some hydrosols may contain trace amounts of essential oil residue in it, which is absolutely okay.
So are hydrosols and essential oils the same thing? No, there is a difference between the two.
Difference Between Hydrosols & Essential Oils
We know that essential oils and hydrosols are derivatives of the same extraction process. The end product of the process results in hydrosol and essential oil. Both of these contain the same therapeutic properties as the plant that was used as the base material. However, although they both have the same properties, there is an inherent difference between the two products.
Their subtle aroma and gentle properties give hydrosols a lot of versatility. They can be used in a variety of ways.
21 Amazing Ways To Use Hydrosols
1. After-Shower Mist
Spritzing a light hydrosol body mist all over your body after a shower feels super refreshing. The scent will last longer as your open pores absorb more of the mist but it won’t be as strong as that of a perfume. This makes it perfect for using before getting into bed.
2. Mild Daytime Perfume
What’s great about these aromatic floral waters is that they can be spritzed directly onto your skin. Spritzing a little on your inner wrists and behind your ears during the daytime is refreshing without being overpowering. Leave the heavy perfumes for evenings out.
3. Facial Toner
Tea Tree, Rose, Lavender, and Melissa are the best hydrosols for toning your skin and promoting healthy skin. They are safe and gentle to spray directly on the face. When used directly from the fridge, the cool spray helps tighten the pores.
You can also add these to the facial products you currently use to enjoy their benefits. For example, you can add hydrosols to your face mask instead of plain water.
4. Support Acne-Prone Skin
Tea Tree, Melissa, and Roman Chamomile Hydrosols are particularly good for skin that is prone to blemishes and breakouts. Spraying a little onto a cotton pad and applying it over the face makes an effective complement to your acne-reducing skincare routine.
5. Seal In Skin Moisturizer
6. Post-Sun Skin Hydrating Agent
Lightly misting your body with Rose, Lavender, or Roman Chamomile Hydrosol hydrates and cools your skin down instantly. They are perfect for spraying onto skin after exposure to the sun or after minor burns.
All three hydrosols are extremely soothing. Spritz the affected area with any of the above hydrosols for instant sunburn relief and to soothe any redness.
7. Soothe Dry Itchy Skin
In winter, it’s not exposure to the sun but the arid air that causes dry, itchy skin. A quick spritz of Tea Tree, Lavender, or Peppermint Hydrosol cools and hydrates the skin, proving quick soothing relief. Spray onto the skin several times a day. Hydrosols are non-sticky and they smell good too.
8. TLC For Your Hair
Spraying a hydrosol mist lightly on damp hair is a quick and simple way to show your hair some TLC. Rose, Neroli, and Lavender are the best hydrosols to nourish and strengthen dry, damaged hair. In addition to adding a light, subtle fragrance, the components in these two hydrosols are known to support healthy hair.
9. Mood Booster
Rose, Lavender, and Melissa Hydrosols bring comfort and calm after a long, hectic day. Spray any of these hydrosols directly onto your skin, clothes, pillows, or linens to get the mood-boosting benefits.
10. Emotional Support
Rose, Lavender, and Melissa Hydrosols have an uplifting aroma that offers much-needed emotional support during times of grief and sadness. Spritz any of these hydrosols directly on your skin, clothes, linen, or pillow to get the uplifting benefits. Alternatively, add ¼ to ½ cup of your favorite hydrosol to a warm bath and soak in it to feel more balanced.
11. Relaxing Spray
On super busy, stressful days it can feel like you don’t have a moment to stop and think. You just have to keep going no matter what. Unfortunately, the more stressed and overwhelmed you feel, the more you struggle to get things done.
Lavender and Roman Chamomile hydrosols have the same relaxing properties as their essential oil counterpart. Spraying the mist of these floral waters around the room and on your body reduces stress and anxiety so you feel more relaxed. This can work wonders to help you keep going without feeling overwhelmed.
12. Encourage A Restful Night’s Sleep
Misting Lavender, Rose, or Chamomile Hydrosol on your pillow and linen before getting is a nice, gentle way to create a relaxing atmosphere that will help you drift off to sleep. These hydrosols are known to promote calmness and relaxation.
13. Cool the body Down
Rigorous workouts, hormonal changes, or just doing household chores on a hot summer’s day can heat the body, sometimes excessively. Spraying Peppermint Hydrosol liberally over the skin can help the skin cool down instantly. Peppermint Hydrosol is rich in menthol which is known for its refreshing and invigorating properties.
14. Room Freshener
Choose your favorite hydrosol and spritz the mist in your bedroom, living room, bathroom, or any other space to eliminate stale odor and refresh the air. Rose, Lavender, and Peppermint Hydrosols are all perfect for this purpose.
15. Linen Spray
Lavender, Peppermint, and Roman Chamomile Hydrosols make fantastic linen sprays, especially for bedroom linen. In addition to smelling wonderful, both of these hydrosols are soothing and relaxing. Spray generously on your pillow and comforter to help you unwind and relax for a great night’s sleep. Or add hydrosol to your ironing water.
16. Closet Spray
Spray your closet regularly with your favorite hydrosol to keep your clothes and closet smelling wonderful all the time. Although hydrosols don’t stain clothes, it’s best to avoid spraying directly on delicate fabrics.
17. Carpet & Upholstery Freshener
18. Car Freshener
Spray Peppermint Hydrosol in the car when you need an instant pick-me-up while driving.
19. Scent Personalized Notes
20. Personalize Gifts
21. Heals Minor Scrapes
Tea Tree Hydrosol has antibacterial properties. It also helps accelerate skin healing after minor scrapes. Wash the wound with soap and water and spray Tea Tree hydrosol over the affected area to soothe discomfort and support the healing process.
What To Look For When Purchasing Hydrosols
Not all hydrosols are created equal or of high quality. Many lesser-known manufacturers add water to a few drops of essential oil and market these as hydrosols. These are not genuine hydrosols. Not only will these not do you any good but they could even be harmful. Adding water to essential oils shortens the shelf life of the oil.
The key to buying pure high-quality hydrosols is to buy them from a known, reputed brand. Plant Therapy is my go-to brand for buying hydrosol.
Always check that ‘hydrosol’ or ‘hydrolat’ is listed as the primary ingredient and not far down the list of ingredients. You also want to make sure that the product has no added fragrance, perfume, colors, or dyes. It should absolutely no additives.
Some hydrosols that are specially formulated for specific purposes may list other ingredients and that’s okay. For example, a hydrosol to be used as a Face Mist may have Aloe Vera or Calendula extract, both of which are good for the skin.
How To Store Hydrosols Correctly
The right way to store hydrosols is in a cool dark environment with consistent temperature like the fridge.
Good quality hydrosols have high water content and they are preservative-free. Both of these factors increase the risk of bacterial contamination and shorten the life span of the hydrosol.
Storing hydrosols in the fridge preserves the integrity of the components. The hydrosol will last longer with all of its properties and benefits intact. As an added bonus, spritzing the cool hydrosol on your face and body can feel very refreshing.
Do not store hydrosols in the freezer. The sub-zero temperature in the freezer can damage the components of the hydrosol.
3 Precautions When Using Hydrosols
1. Never use hydrosols that look or smell funky. If you’ve kept the bottle for too long, before using sniff the contents. You’ll be able to tell immediately if the hydrosol is good or spoilt by its smell. If it smells rancid, throw it away. If it has no smell at all, it may not be spoilt but it has lost all of its original properties.
2. Do not touch the hydrosol in the bottle directly with your fingers. It will contaminate the contents. Instead pour out a little onto a sterile cotton pad or use a clean glass dropper to remove as much as you need.
3. If you’re using the hydrosol very sparingly, it’s best to transfer a small amount to a smaller glass container. That way you don’t expose the entire hydrosol content to the atmosphere repeatedly. Oxygen in the air oxidized hydrosols and shortens their life span. Close tightly and put the bottle back in the refrigerator after use.
How long do hydrosols last?
The shelf life of each hydrosol is different. It depends on the botanicals of that particular hydrosol, its pH level, distillation conditions, storage conditions, and how it is handled.
Which hydrosol is best for skin?
Lavender Hydrosol as astringent and purifying properties and is suitable for all skin types.
Rose Hydrosol is better suited for combination and oily skin. It is also good for sensitive skin.
Witch hazel helps to regulate oily skin and tighten pores
Which hydrosol is good for hair?
Rose, Rosemary and Witch Hazel Hydrosols are best for oily hair.
Lavender and Neroli Hydrosols are good for dry hair.
Witch hazel is good for oily hair.
Can I use hydrosol in a diffuser?
You can use hydrosol in all types of diffusers except for nebulizing diffusers. These diffusers are designed to be used with concentrated essential oils. Putting hydrosol into a nebulizing diffuser will damage the mechanism.
Hydrosols are a great option to add to your diffuser if you want to infuse your room with an aroma that’s more subtle than essential oils. When using hydrosols in a diffuser you don’t need to add water to the tank as the hydrosol itself is made up mainly of water.
Can I freeze hydrosols?
No, you should never freeze hydrosols. Freezing damages the components and renders the hydrosol unusable.
Can you heat hydrosols?
Hydrosols are sensitive to high heat. If you do need to heat it for a recipe, make sure to heat it gently. Do not overheat.
Want to learn more about hydrosols?
These are excellent and reliable books on the topic.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.