What’s an hydrosol and what are its properties
Hydrosols (also known as floral waters when flowers are used) are not well known, yet they are essential, used either alone or in recipes. Since we are often asked about them, we decided to devote an entire article to helping you better understand and benefit from them.
How hydrosol are made
Hydrosols are made using four inter-connected vessels. The first three constitute the still, and the last one is the decanter.
- The first vessel is filled with water and heated.
The heated water creates steam, which naturally rises and enters the tube linking the first two vessels.
- The second vessel is filled with fresh herbs or flowers.
The steam continues to rise, passing through the plant material and picking up water-soluble molecules from the plants along the way. It then travels through the tube leading to the third vessel.
- The third vessel is a cooling system filled with cold water.
The steam moves through a tube submerged in cold water and condenses to liquid form. This liquid, composed of water and essential oils, is carried into the fourth vessel.
- The fourth and final vessel is the decanter.
Allowed to rest, the liquid separates. Since essential oils are lighter than water, they rise to the surface. They are then filtered and collected, and what remains is the hydrosol, which contains water-soluble plant components.
Depending on the size of the still, this process takes about twelve hours. The ratio of plant material to water should be about 1 : 3.
What is an hydrosol
- Aromatic water that thus does not mix with oil or fat
- Water that is sterile and moderately stable since it was obtained by heating water to high temperatures
What it is not
- Essential oils
The history of hydrosol
Techniques may have evolved, but people have been using hydrosols for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, their properties and beneficial effects on the skin were well known. In fact, rose hydrosol was said to be Cleopatra’s favourite.
How to store hydrosol
The use of water in a recipe increases the risk of bacterial contamination. A high-quality hydrosol (be sure you buy from a reputable source) is pure water with no preservatives, so it should be stored in a cool, dark place. That’s why hydrosols are sold in dark glass bottles that block the light. Hydrosols can be kept for one year, ideally in the fridge. Not only will they last longer, but when misted on the face, cool hydrosols work miracles!
What hydrosols are used for
- Hydrosols can be used as the water phase in recipes. If your recipe calls for water, you can easily substitute a hydrosol, taking advantage of its many benefits. That’s what we did in our toothpaste and make-up remover recipes for example.
- Hydrosols can be added to the water in your steam iron to impart a delicate scent to your clothing.
- Hydrosols can be used as a skin toner: misted on your face after you wash or apply a mask, a hydrosol will rinse away the hard water minerals that can dry your skin. You will also benefit from its properties, depending on your skin type. If it is stored in the fridge, its coolness will tighten your pores. Once it has been absorbed by the skin, apply moisturizer as desired.
- Hydrosols can be used as scents. Used alone or with essential oils or aromatic essences, hydrosols can be used as:
- body sprays
- air or fabric fresheners, as we did with our spring mist recipe.
Which hydrosols to use
At Coop Coco, we offer eight, all obtained by distilling plants to make essential oils. The distillates are filtered to obtain high-quality hydrosols.
If you’re not sure which ones to choose, here are tips offered by Hélène Berton in her book The Essential Guide to Natural Skin Care.
Rose geranium hydrosol – Pelargonium graveolens
Oily, dry, or combination skin, rosacea, acne, wrinkles, irritated skin, minor cuts and wounds, excessive perspiration
Witch hazel hydrosol – Hamamelis virginiana
Oily, dry, or combination skin, rosacea, acne, mature or irritated skin, dilated pores, insect bites, eczema, psoriasis
Lavender hydrosol – Lavandula angustifolia
Oily or combination skin, sensitive , irritated, or damaged skin, acne, minor burns and wounds, insect bites
Orange blossom hydrosol (neroli) – Citrus aurantium ssp aurantium
Mature, sensitive, irritated, or oily skin, rosacea, dilated pores
Rosemary hydrosol – Rosmarinus officials cineoliferum
Oily, dry, or combination skin, irritated skin, acne, mature or damaged skin, dull complexion, blackheads
Damascus rose hydrosol – Rosa damascena
Oily, dry, or combination skin, mature or sensitive skin, dull complexion, rosacea, acne, dilated pores
Chamomille hydrosol – Chamaemelum nobile
Sensitive or irritated skin, rosacea, acne, irritated eyes, minor burns, insect bites, psoriasis, eczema, skin allergies
Carrot seed hydrosol – Daucus carota
Mature or irritated skin, rosacea, wrinkled or damaged skin, psoriasis, eczema
Berton, H. (2006). Les Hydrolats Aromatiques (H.A). In Les huiles essentielles pour la peau: Une saine alternative cosmétique : Huiles végétales, beurres végétaux, extraits oléiques, huiles essentielles, hydrolats aromatiques. Montréal: Aroleome Éditeur.
What is your favorite hydrosol? How did you learn about it? And, above all, how do you use it?