We hear a lot about essential oils these days, but what are hydrosols?
It's hard to talk about essential oils without talking about hydrosols because essential oils cannot be made without also making hydrosol. Hydrosols are the pure, natural waters that are produced during the steam or hydro distillation of plant materials such as flowers, leaves, needles, twigs, resins, roots, seeds, and woods.
Hydrosols are produced during the same distillation process that also extracts the essential oils. Essential oils are the highly concentrated aromatic extracts that contain the oil soluble components of the plant. Hydrosol contains all of the water soluble components of the plant's essence, including natural alcohols, acids and tannins as well as micro-molecules of essential oil suspended within it. Hydrosols are a unique product, only obtained through distillation and cannot be manufactured synthetically. Hydrosols are not as concentrated as essential oils so they can be used undiluted on the skin. They are safe and gentle for all ages and for those with sensitive skin offering subtle aromatherapy and therapeutic benefits.
How Hydrosols are made
I start with the highest quality local plants handpicked at their peak of freshness. Using a traditional copper alembic still, I pack the column with the plant material. As the water in the pot underneath comes to a boil, steam rises up through the plants bursting essential oil containing glands. The essential oil vapor mixes with the steam and rises into the swan neck and into the coils of the condenser. The condenser is a heat exchanger, the cool water in the tank cools the vapor and steam turning it back to liquid and producing both essential oil and hydrosol. My copper still is a thing of beauty, hand-hammered and imported from Portugal, and produces the sweetest hydrosols. Would you like to see it in action? Click here.
How to use Hydrosols
I use hydrosols in place of water in my soap making, and other formulations. But they have many uses, here are 51 ways to use hydrosol.
Do you know of any other ways to use hydrosol? Share your thoughts below.
See my current line of pure, artisan distilled hydrosols here.
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