Hydrosol is a chemistry terms that essentially means "water solution."
So let's break down the science and history of these seemingly magical waters...
Hydrosols are the water condensate produced during a steam or water distillation of plant material–think about the process that occurs to create essential oil.
Distillation isn't a new art form. It has been traced back to as early as 2600 B.C. where ancient Egyptians boiled plant material in large pots covered with heavy cloth. They often used wood extracts–like myrrh and sandalwood– which were important elements in many aspects of their culture. Paintings showing this process from this time period have survived to this day. Amazing!
Hydrosols carry both therapeutic water soluble components and essential oil molecules of the plant. Flowers are more commonly used for hydrosols–like lavender and rose–but but roots, bark, branches, leaves, seeds and even fruit can produce both oils and hydrosols. They contain between .05 -.2 milliliters (less than 1%) of dissolved essential oil and tend to have a more acidic pH. They carry various medicinal constituents depending on what plant is used but anti-inflammatory and antibacterial are some of the prominent properties. Hydrosols are milder and less concentrated than essential oils making them safe and gentle enough for general use.
Sometimes hydrosols are referred to as distillates or hydrolates. You might even see them called "flower" or "floral" waters," but they may not be true hydrosols.
Beware of fakes!
An essential oil in plain water is NOT a hydrosol nor is an extract with preservatives, flower essences or artificial fragrance–just for the record. Although they may be fine for aromatherapy uses, they won't contain the therapeutic qualities that hydrosols have so read your labels and use caution if using topically.
Hydrosols have many uses, applications and benefits depending on the plant used. Kaliks Collective utilizes hydrosols for skincare and aromatherapy purposes. We use organic plants harvested sustainably in a slow distillation and under low atmospheric pressure to preserve all of the therapeutic qualities. We love hydrosols and can't praise these medicinal waters enough!
Stay tuned for Hydrosols for Skincare post coming up...
Resources: Catty, Suzanne. "Hydrosols The Next Aromatherapy." Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2001.