The art of distillation is both a sacred art and science-- it's the alchemy of converting plant material into an entirely new form and substance for supporting our mind, body and spirit. Most of us are familiar with this end result of plant conversion in an essential oil. But what many of us don’t know during this distillation process is it also provides the aromatic water of the plant known as hydrosol.
Hydrosol, derived from Hydro translates to water and sol translates to solution. According to Suzanne Catty, in her book, Hydrosols, the Next Aromatherapy, “Hydrosols are not just water, they are liquids with chemical makeup and therapeutic properties.” Now you may wonder, how does water relate to the making of essential oils? The relevance is in the process of distillation.
To make most essential oils, raw plant material is first gathered and harvested, like the bark, flower petal, root, stem, leaf of a plant. Then this material is placed into a round barrel shaped container known as a still and covered with a lid. Water and heat is introduced to the still, converting water to steam at a specific temperature. Over many hours, the pressure of the steam forces the molecules out from the plant material into a condenser where cold water is introduced and steam converts back to water, and when cooled the oil molecules take its shape and float to the surface of the water. The water used in the distillation process is funneled out and gathered into a separate container. Traces of essential oils are found in a minute percentage of this collected water, thus giving it its unique therapeutic and aromatic essence which is known as hydrosol.
The use of hydrosol is garnering wide attention as a modality that offers therapeutic value to our health. Because hydrosols are aromatic compounds, containing microdoses of essential oils within the aromatic waters it may offer as much benefit as a pure essential oil, and in many cases, is more conducive to use for pets, babies, elderly, and anyone who has an elevated level of sensitivity.
For example, lavender hydrosol is completely safe to add to bath water for infants. There has been research done on hydrosol for internal use to treat conditions and symptoms, and far less invasive than the concentrated undiluted drop of an essential oil.
Most recently, I have discovered the most incredible pure quality of hydrosol of rose (Rosa damacena) and sandalwood (Santalum alba) distilled by the farmers of Nisarga Farms, located near Dharmasala, at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in India. While most rose and sandalwood hydrosols sold commercially may be adulterated, this sourcing of rose and sandalwood offers supreme therapeutic benefits, such as toning the skin and minimizing pores thereby offering anti-wrinkling, anti-aging and protection against the elements along with pure aromatic joy of distilled rose petals and bark of sandalwood. In a 50/50 ratio, it is bottled and used daily on my face as a facial toner to nourish, hydrate, and protect. It feels pretty incredible and smells divine.
Rosa damascena is a humectant, to help retain moisture, along with it as an astringent and antiseptic and is great for normal, dry, mature, sensitive skin to help soothe skin, minimize pores, and reduce fine lines.
Santalum album is an astringent and contains anti-inflammatory properties and is beneficial for mature, acne prone, eczema, psoriasis and overall exceptional for skin care.
One important distinction to be made about hydrosol, it is not essential oil added into water. It must come from the process of distillation of plant material.
As someone who is passionate about establishing rituals, hydrosol use is another powerful tool to use before and during meditation to help calm the mind, support the heart, and come into the present moment. In addition, adding to baths or spritzing onto bed linens, gloves, scarf, hat and these days, a face mask can help shift mood and state of being.
If you are interested in experiencing this, I will plan to have it available as a product in my shop. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.