Aromatherapy is a tree with many branches — hydrosols being one of them. The term hydrosol is a combination of hydro (water) and sol (solution) — a natural water solution. When essential oils are distilled from plants, hydrosols are the byproduct of the process. Hydrosols cannot be manufactured synthetically.
When plants or flowers are put into the still or distillation tank, they are subjected to boiling water, steam, or both. When the steam hits the plant, the essential oil is released in vapor. The vapor mixes with the steam and is only separated again as the steam cools in the condensing tank. As the steam cools, the essential oil molecules separate from the steam (now as cooled water) and floats to the surface.
The upper layer is the essential oil which floats on the water, except for a few drops which sink—this is the hydrosol.
Many people who are chemically sensitive have no problem with hydrosols because it is not a synthetic scent. Hydrosols are also considered homeopathy. They work by affecting the brain. When the scent hits the brain, the effect on the body is immediate. Think of the multi billion dollar perfume industry and the research that goes into the science of scents.
Unlike essential oils, hydrosols may be placed directly on the skin and can even be used in cooking. Dilute a hydrosol with tea or in other therapeutic drinks to make a tonic at a ratio of 1:3 or 1 tablespoon/liter. Usually hydrosols are dispensed in a spray bottle or spritzer. They can also be used as room sprays. Their uses vary according to the flower they are distilled from. Common uses of hydrosols include:
- Animal flea spray
- Breath freshener
- Cosmetic ingredients
- Face moisturizer
- Fresher for sheets and towels
- Fruit rinse
- House plant spray
- Ironing spray
- Room freshener
- Sore throat spray
- Spay disinfectant
Remember that hydrosols cannot be made synthetically. The label should say 100% hydrosol. As a plant product, hydrosols do have shelf life. Keep hydrolsols in the refrigerator. They should be bottled in a dark colored bottle to protect it from the light.