I’ll be honest – I had never heard of hydrosols before I did my Distillation Course in anticipation of finally receiving the still I had ordered. But I had used them in cooking. You will all be familiar with rose water and perhaps orange blossom water – these are hydrosols. Essentially when plant materials are hydro- or steam-distilled the resulting condensed steam is known as hydrosols or aromatic waters. In some cases the distillation is done primarily to produce essential oils and hydrosols are a co-product, still containing a small amount of essential oils that give scent along with water soluble components that have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
In anticipation of making my own hydrosols from plants in my garden, I decided to investigate more into how hydrosols could be used. I also bought some rose hydrosol from Go Native so that I could experiment with some of these uses beyond cooking.
It seems that spraying and misting is a predominant use of hydrosols, for hydration, scent and therapeutic properties:
Room sprays – purely for scent, calming, or as air fresheners
- Linen spray – freshen and fragrance sheets, towels and clothes
- Facial hydration – e.g. on long flights
- Body and hair fragrance spray
- Skin soothing spray – cool and ease itching
- Wound sprays – antibacterial promoting healing of minor wounds
- Deodorant spray – antibacterial minimising body odour
- Foot spray – refresh and deodorise
Another major use of hydrosols is in skin care products, replacing some or all of the water portion in toners, lotions and creams. The soothing anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties mean that they can be used for all skin types. And of course they bring a natural scent as well.
I tried these products with my rose hydrosol:
Soothing Skin Cleanser
1/3 cup liquid castile soap
2/3 cup rose hydrosol
1 tbsp vegetable glycerin
Combine in a glass jug and pour into a 250ml amber glass bottle with and close with a lotion pump.
Rosewater & Witch Hazel Facial Toner
To make a facial toner, combine ¼ cup witch hazel and ¼ cup rosewater in a jar or spray bottle.
Spray a small amount of toner directly on your face (or apply using a cotton ball) and then wipe your face with a cotton ball.
Witch hazel removes excess oil and sebum, controls oil production, and reduces skin blemishes, while rose hydrosol is more soothing and helps prevent early signs of aging. So you may want to adjust the proportions: more witch hazel if you have oily skin and more rose hydrosol if you have drier skin.
Clay Face Mask
To 1 tbsp of mud/clay powder* slowly add rose hydrosol and mix into a paste.
Apply a thick coating to the face.
Leave on for 10 minutes.
Wash off with warm water.
Use your favourite oil or moisturiser to finish.
For best results steam clean the face to open pores before applying.
* there are a whole range of different muds and clays that you can use in your face masks depending on your skin type – see Go Native’s How Different Clays Benefit Your Skin .