“Hydrosols do something rather unique.
They bring the aromatic compounds of plants to the healing process 
in the maximum amount possible to be homogenously dissolved in water.”

Suzanne Catty, Hydrosols, the Next  Aromatherapy

I first learned about hydrosols in a book by Kristen Leigh Bell called Aromatherapy for Animals. She cautions against using essential oils with cats, but feels that hydrosols are the perfect remedy in many cases for our feline friends.

In the book Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy by Suzanne Catty, I learned about using hydrosols internally, at 3 week intervals.  There are many other wonderful applications!

I’ve been distilling and experimenting with hydrosols for a few years now.  I started out with dried, fragrant herbs, such as Lavender.  Now I use, almost exclusively, fresh plant material.  Plants that make excellent hydrosols are roses, lavender, sage, oregano, mint, hyssop, rose geranium, and lemon verbena.

Hydrosols are:

• 30-40% stronger than an infusion

• Water-soluble for ease of absorption and ingestion

• Dilutable to homeopathic proportions

• Very gentle, but highly effective

Gather plant material when it is highest in volatile oils 

Basic measurements and process:

3 quarts of purified water

10 oz of fresh plant material

This will yield between 1 and 2 quarts of hydrosol, depending on the fragrance of your plant material, room temperature, length of distillation time, and/or how much ice you have on hand.

To capture the most potent and complete plant essence, I recommend running the plant through the food processor and infusing in a jar of water the night before your distillation (or in the covered pot, as in directions below).

  1. Pour 3 quarts of water into the large pot
  2.  Mix in about 10 oz of fresh plant material
  3. Let infuse for several hours, or overnight, covered
  4.  Place your rock or “platform” in the center with collecting bowl on top
  5.  Cover, and bring to a simmer. Be ready!
  6.  At the first sign of steam, invert the lid + ice (or bowl + ice)
  7.  Adjust heat to medium – enough to keep a steady steam going
  8. You are now distilling a hydrosol! Monitor the ice meltoff…

As ice melts, pour off excess into bucket or garden (or just let it melt if using a bag of ice as shown to the right)

Distillation usually takes 90 minutes or so

Best to do this during the coolest part of the day or evening

When done distilling, turn off the heat and leave the lid or pan on overnight or for several hours, allowing the hydrosol to cool completely, and all of the final drops to be collected.

Pour the hydrosol off carefully and store in a sterilized bottle. There will be a strong herbal “tea” left in the bottom of the pan with the herbs.  I usually strain and use this tea in a bath, which is fantastic!


The pH of a hydrosol can determine it’s healing qualities. Those of a more acid nature will usually be more astringent.

  • Spray undiluted on face and body to refresh, stimulate circulation, or cool down.
  • As a gentle and subtle perfume
  • As a conditioner or facial mist to draw moisture to skin and hair
  • Before, during and after exposure to sun, wind or cold
  • Undiluted, use for dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, poison ivy, and cuts and wounds.  Several small applications a day – no less than three, as many as a dozen applications
  • Compress – Dilute 3-5 tbs of hydrosol in one liter of water.
  • For children’s internal use, dilute 2-3 tsp of hydrosol per liter of water
  • Soak a cloth and apply for aches and pains, infected wounds, scar tissue bronchitis, menstrual cramps, ear infections
  • Blend with aloe vera: Externally for burns, rash and dermal conditions; Internally for healing the digestive tract
  • Make up remover and toner:  Roman chamomile, cornflower and geranium are best;  Neroli, rock rose, yarrow and sage are toning, and also have antioxidant properties
  • As a beverage:  Add only enough hydrosol to flavor the water.  Makes water more appealing!
  • Therapeutic beverage: 2 Tbs hydrosol to 1 qt of water and consume over the course of a day. Alternate with plain water to consume a total of 2 quarts each day.  Repeat this process with the same hydrosol(s) daily for 3 weeks, take one week off, reassess.
  • Tonic or Remedy:  Take ½ – 1 Tbs of undiluted hydrosol 3-6x/day or as required.  Example: Eucalyptus hydrosol for coughs, Fennel for digestion, Chamomile for insomnia

Making “Aromatic Tinctures”

Combine hydrosols with alcohol or tinctures to create a more energetic medicine

Tincture the fresh plant in alcohol, then add 40% hydrosol OR tincture dried plant material in an alcohol/hydrosol 60/40 menstruum

Some suggested combinations are:

  • Melissa tincture w chamomile hydrosol
  • Milk thistle tincture w greenland moss hydrosol
  • Vitex tincture w rose hydrosol

Clearing space:
Declare an intention, ask for the help of the plant and its energy

Body work:
Put drops of hydrosol on acupuressure points


Always dilute ½ tsp per quart of water for cats (for internal use)

Acute: ½ tsp of above diluted formula per 1 lb of body weight,
divided into 8 doses, given at intervals until condition clears

Chronic: ¼ tsp per 1 lb of body weight of above dilution (½ tsp/quart of water)
divided into 2 or 3 doses, given 3x a day for 3 weeks

Reasses and repeat if needed


Dilute 75% to begin with, and increase concentration as needed
Many uses both internal and external
Spray around head or on bed for stress – Chamomile, Rose or Lavender hydrosol
My dogs love Lavender Hydrosol!


  • Use hydrosols to replace all or some of the water in any recipe
  • Orange juice with a spritz of Neroli
  • Freeze the hydrosols and add flavored ice to your water or other drink
  • Oregano hydrosol cubes in tomato juice, Peppermint hydrosol ice cubes in Lemonade


  • Incorporate hydrosols into any home cleaning formula
  • Sage, Oregano and Thyme are great for sanitizing, and also remove soap film

What more can I say?  Hydrosols are the bomb!

Bibliography/Recommended Reading

Bell, Kristen Leigh. Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Essential Oils and Hydrosols with Dogs, Cats, Horses and Other Animals. Forres, Scotland: Findhorn, 2002. Print.

“Bulgarian Rose Hydrosol | Rosa Damascena.” Organic Bulgarian Rose Oil (Otto). Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www.bulgarianroseotto.com/rosewater.html>.

Catty, Suzanne. “Acqua-Vita :: Hydrosols.” Acqua-Vita. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <http://www.acqua-vita.com/products/hydrosols.asp>.

Catty, Suzanne. Hydrosols: The next Aromatherapy. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 2001. Print.

Chishti, G. M. The Traditional Healer: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Practice of Unani Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 1988. Print.

“Flower Waters (Hydrosols).” Hydrosols and Flower Waters From Mountain Rose. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/fwater/fwater.html>.

Green, James. “Distillation of Hydrosols.” The Herbal Medicine-makers’ Handbook: A Home Manual. Freedom, CA: Crossing, 2000. 118-22. Print.

“Hydrosols-Blending Nature and Science.” Blending Nature and Science. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www.theherbarie.com/Hydrosols-c-12.html>.

“Nature’s Gift HYDROSOLS.” Nature’s Gift Pure and Natural Hydrosols. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www.naturesgift.com/hydrosol_order.htm>.

“Organic Lavender Hydrosol.” Purple Haze Lavender Ltd. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://phlavender.stores.yahoo.net/orlahy.html>.

“Rose Geranium Pelargonium ‘Graveolens'” Information on the Herb Rose Geranium. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www.ageless.co.za/herb-rose-geranium.htm>.

Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, CA: Frog, 2004. Print.

About Sarah Wadleigh

I am a Clinical Herbalist, Organic Gardener and Nutritional Consultant for people and companion animals. I live in Madrid, New Mexico with my wonderful husband, two little dogs and a big cat. My practice revolves around helping people create health through whole-food nutrition, nutritive herbs, lifestyle and self-awareness. With more than 20 years of experience as an animal nutritional counselor, I offer consultations to improve the health and well-being of our four-legged friends, as well as their humans. We can work together via Skype, in person,or over the phone. Let's create health for ourselves and our animal companions! Contact: sarah@summersunherbals.com
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6 Responses to Hydrosols!

  1. Melissa says:

    Wow! Fabulous information, Sarah! This post is going to inspire me to finally be consistent with the hydrosols you sent last year! They smell so good!

    • Thanks, Melissa! Now you know why I’m so crazy for hydrosols! I will be making some dog and cat products and posting on PoppySwap (links will be on my “Herb Store” page). Let me know how they work for you and yours.

  2. Kristen says:

    Are all hydrosols safe for children and babies?

    • Not all. For example, I would not use Cinnamon hydrosol externally for anyone. Others that I would not recommend for use topically with children or babies would include Sage, Oregano or Thyme, although these would be completely safe to use in home made cleaning products around children or babies.

      Hydrosols that are safe and desirable for topical use on children and babies include Chamomile, Lavender, Orange Flower and Rose.

      • Kristen says:

        Thank you so much for your information! When making lavender hydrosol, what parts of the plant do I use? Will the hydrosol be just as good if I don’t use the flowers so I can dry the flowers for tea?

        • Hi Kristen,

          You are welcome!

          You can use the entire plant – Lavender stems and leaves are lovely in a hydrosol. Same for sage, thyme, lemon balm, oregano and, my favorite, Lemon Verbena. You will obtain differing results fragrance-wise from using the various parts of the plants, but with Lavender, the whole plant is so pleasantly fragrant, it should turn out very nicely.

          So glad you are using your herbs so wisely!

          Thanks for your inquiry.


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