All About Hydrosols
Updated: Jul 20
Hydrosols are the aromatic waters created as a co-distillation during the steam distillation of essential oils or a stand-alone product. Also commonly referred to as hydrolates, floral waters, and plant waters. Hydrosols are not just aromatic waters of flowers. The hydro-distillation of plant matter such as roots, bark, needles, leaves, fruit seeds, etc., and are also plant matter that creates a hydrosol with great therapeutic benefits.
Hydrosols and Essential Oils have many similarities but are very different in terms of shelf life, precautions, usage, and storage.
Unlike Essential Oils, Hydrosols:
• Are Water-Soluble–but they have a very different pH than water...
Each hydrosol has a different pH, and the pH is one of several factors that assist in determining how best to use each hydrosol when it comes to blending for therapeutic needs.
• Have a finite shelf-life...
Each hydrosol has its own unique attributes that determine the shelf life. It is best to keep them refrigerated to extend shelf life.
• They are easily contaminated...
A simple act of even touching the neck of the bottle or inside of the cap with your fingers can contaminate a hydrosol. Handle with care, store in sterile amber or blue glass bottles, and keep refrigerated to extend the shelf-life.
• Are mild yet effective...
Many Hydrosols are gentle enough to wash a cut or scrape without worrying about diluting in a carrier oil or unscented base (such as Castile Soap). The mild nature of Hydrosols indicates it is safe to use most Hydrosols neat on the skin. If you have a stubborn rash from poison ivy, fungal issues, or a chronic condition such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema, Hydrosols would be a gentler approach to use alone or in combination with essential oils.
• Can safely be used internally...
Many, but not all, hydrosols are safe to use internally. If a Hydrosol is safe for internal use (read each hydrosol's product description carefully to see if internal use is suggested), consider spritzing your favorite drink with it or adding two tablespoons of hydrosol to one liter of water and drink it throughout the day. Hydrosols can be a great substitute for mouthwash or a healing rinse when gum irritation or mouth ulcers develop. Hydrosols would be the perfect approach to maintaining good oral health!
Unlike essential oils, hydrosols are much safer to use directly on the skin and can be added to water, other beverages, salad dressings, and other foods.
Here are some of our favorite hydrosols:
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) Benefits: reduces fever, increases perspiration, achy muscles and joints, bactericide, anti-fungal, stomach distress, relaxing, insomnia, insect repellant, stress reliever, and sedative. NOTE: Due to its content of nepetalactone, it does have a stimulating effect on cats!
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) Benefits: refreshing, cooling, with a crisp aroma that would be perfect as a summer body splash, spritzer, or used within a handmade lotion or aroma spray. Cucumbers are well known for their soothing, healing, and anti-inflammatory skin diseases and infections, eczema, psoriasis, anti-oxidant, stimulates hair growth, soothes sunburn, promotes healthy skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, lightens freckles.
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) Benefits: clears and clarifies and can be used before meditation to support heightened states of awareness. It is an excellent hydrosol to use for respiratory health and specifically when there is excess mucous. It is one of the best hydrosols to support skin health and beauty, enhancing radiance and helping to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
Geranium, Rose (Pelargonium graveolens var. roseum) Benefits: relaxant, inflammation, women's reproductive system, balances adrenals and hormones, cools hot flash, nervous system, anxiety, agitation, nervous fatigue, adrenocortical gland, menopause, diarrhea, gallstones, jaundice, mild anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, astringent for skin, hemostatic, and mild pancreas stimulant.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Benefits: sedative, calming, insomnia, muscle relaxant, inflammation, a powerful tonic for the entire system, acne, burns, sunburn, eases depression, hiccups, skin conditions, asthma, bronchitis, and headaches.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) Benefits: tonic, digestive, vasodilator with anti-inflammatory properties, sedative, promotes good digestion, reduces cellulite, athlete's foot, scabies, insect repellant, tones the tissues, soothes a headache, and stimulates the thyroid gland.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium) Unsurpassed for its calming and soothing properties, especially for anxiety. The hydrosol makes an effective substitution for facial and body sprays, with the essential oil being so costly as the hydrosol has a strong fragrance. Its soft floral and citrus fragrance is very similar to the essential oil. Neroli hydrosol is an inexpensive way to experience the wonderful fragrance of Neroli at a fraction of the cost. Benefits: calming and anti-anxiety. It is a fantastic aromatic mist for both skin and hair. The astringent nature is good for oily skincare products, de-stress products, fragrance mist, linen, and room sprays.
Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens) The deep resinous scent of Palo Santo is mood uplifting and has been utilized to alleviate depression. It calms the mind, helps clear away negativity, deepens meditation, and enhances concentration. Benefits: Promotes the healing of wounds: antiseptic and antimicrobial. Reduces inflammation: excellent for skin infections, wounds & acne. Reduces mental and emotional tension can help alleviate panic attacks, anxiety, headaches, and migraines. Encourages grounding and centering.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Benefits: Known as a revitalizing and refreshing body spray, it is cooling and beneficial for colic, heartburn, bloat, and other digestive issues. It has provided relief to those who have Crohn's disease or colitis. Suzanne Catty states that "a three-week treatment of peppermint hydrosol will do wonders for bad breath or acne skin by both detoxifying the liver and the colon." This hydrosol is useful for skin abrasions, hot spots, and hot flashes and is an aromatherapy facial toner. It is also an excellent addition to iced tea for a cool summer drink. Add 1-2 TBSP. per 8oz.
Rose (Rosa damascena) Benefits: depression, sedative, anxiety, calming, laxative, aphrodisiac, nervous tension, increases semen count, cooling, liver, stomach, blood purifier, spiritual love, unites the physical with the spiritual. Creates a wonderful toner for all skin types and makes a practical and suitable body splash, anti-anxiety spray, deodorant, room freshener, and for one of those days when we feel sensual. This is an aphrodisiac with embedded roots dating back thousands of years.
Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) Benefits: Tonic for the immune system, reduces urinary tract infections, wounds and ulcers, sores, boils, acne, and pimples. Balancing and calming for the central nervous system and the skin.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Benefits: reduces inflammation, prostate and menstrual problems, neuralgia, acne, eczema, inflammation of varicose veins, and scars. Recommend combining this hydrosol with chamomile hydrosol or lavender hydrosol for a synergistic and aromatically pleasant blend.
Learn how to distill your own hydrosols!
Recommended Resources: Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy by Suzanne Catty, Healing Arts Press, 2001. Harvest to Hydrosol by Ann Harmon, BotANNicals, 2015. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols by Jeanne Rose, Frog Books, 1999.