“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.
• 30-40% stronger than an infusion
• Water-soluble for ease of absorption and ingestion
• Dilutable to homeopathic proportions
• Very gentle, but highly effective
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).
- Pour 3 quarts of water into the large pot
- Mix in about 10 oz of fresh plant material
- Let infuse for several hours, or overnight, covered
- Place your rock or “platform” in the center with collecting bowl on top
- Cover, and bring to a simmer. Be ready!
- At the first sign of steam, invert the lid + ice (or bowl + ice)
- Adjust heat to medium – enough to keep a steady steam going
- 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!
WAYS TO USE HYDROSOLS
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
Declare an intention, ask for the help of the plant and its energy
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!
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.