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All about hydrosols, from how they are made to which ones we use

by Kinga Sümegi January 27, 2021

All about hydrosols, from how they are made to which ones we use

All about hydrosols

Do you know what hydrosols are? In the 21st century, the word itself rings a bell for everyone, because we are living in an era where there is an ever-growing demand for organic materials and products, which is a tendency our society should nurture and be proud of. But what exactly are hydrosols, how are they produced and why are they good for you? Read on and find out!

 

Most probably you have heard the term “hydrosol” before, but what exactly is it? A simplified definition could be that a hydrosol is the water part that is left behind after extracting an essential oil from a plant through water/steam distillation. At Glowing Orchid Organics, we use Rosemary, Lavender, Chamomile, Peppermint and Neroli hydrosols, and in this blog post we aim to show you exactly what these floral waters are, how they're made, and how to use them for your body’s benefit.

What is a hydrosol?

Hydrosols are frequently called "floral waters." This is because they are produced by distilling fresh plant materials like flowers, leaves, fruits, etc. When distilling a plant, either through water or steam distillation, producers are generally left with two end-products: the essential oil, which contains the plant’s oil-soluble constituents, and condensate water, with all the water-soluble constituents of the plant as well as microscopic drops of the essential oil. This condensate water is what is called the plant hydrosol.

As a result of the similar manufacturing procedure, hydrosols and essential oils have very similar therapeutic properties. However, there is an important difference between the two, which is that hydrosols are much less concentrated. Their scents are a lot softer and their effects are less intense when compared to those of essential oils. Since they contain a considerable amount of water, these products are also very gentle and can be applied directly from the bottle to the skin without dilution. They are generally safe to use on the skin of children or even on pets, thanks to their less intense properties.

How are hydrosols produced?

Most hydrosols are made by steam distillation. In steam distillation, plant material rich in extracts (leaves, buds, etc.) is placed into a steam distillery. The distilling procedure is then started by injecting hot steam into the steam distillery, which makes the plants release their botanical extracts. The rising steam then mixes with these extracts and carries them upwards. When the distillate reaches the cooler roof of the distillery, it quickly condenses, and the resulting liquid runs down a long tube into a separate tank.

 

This tank is where the essential oil and floral water is then collected. Due to its chemical properties and molecular weight, the oil, which contains the most concentrated oil-soluble extracts, floats to the surface and can be skimmed off to obtain the essential oil, while the remaining water part is also poured into bottles to produce hydrosol.

What should you look for when purchasing a hydrosol?

Not all hydrosols are manufactured the same way. There are a lot of profit-oriented companies who mix essential oils with water and sell them as false hydrosols. To make sure you are buying a real hydrosol from environmentally friendly sources, make sure to carefully read the ingredients label before you purchase it.

We collected what you should look for when choosing a hydrosol:

  1. Make sure that the word “hydrosol” is listed among the ingredients. The primary ingredient should always be the actual hydrosol, not a mixture of essential oils and water.
  2. It is not a problem if other ingredients are also listed in your hydrosol. Many manufacturers like to add different essential oils and extra ingredients in order to exploit a bigger number of therapeutic effects. 
  3. Added fragrance or perfume should be a warning red light. High quality hydrosols do not need any additional fragrance, as they are aromatic by nature, the scent of the plant should be powerful enough.
  4. Never buy a hydrosol with water as its first ingredient, as there is no more obvious sign of a low-quality hydrosol. The producer either did not follow the distillation process properly, or they diluted the product in order to make some extra profit. Whichever happened – it was not in your best interest.
  5. It is unnecessary to colour or dye a hydrosol, so avoid products which include such ingredients. Hydrosols do not always have a distinct color, and that is perfectly normal, and as a bonus, they do not leave behind any stains.

 

 

If you want to know more about how to spot a fake hydrosol, we recommend reading this article.

What are the benefits of the plants used in our hydrosols?

The number of plants you can use to make hydrosols is nearly infinite, basically any plant with a distinct scent is suitable for making hydrosols. So, in order to keep this blogpost at a digestible length, here we only listed the benefits of the ones you will find on our ingredient-lists. As we mentioned before, at Glowing Orchid Organics we use Rosemary, Lavender, Chamomile, Peppermint and Neroli hydrosols in our products.

Rosemary: The rosemary hydrosol has antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It supports your skin to remain healthy and thanks to its skin rejuvenating effect, it helps to heal older scars. Its beneficial effects start in the middle-layer of the skin and they sooth and heal, working from the inside out. Rosemary hydrosol can also help in treating irritations and roughness, and it is good against pain. It is a very beneficial base for soaps, lotions, facial mists or creams.

 

Lavender: This widely known and used herb with its distinct scent makes a wonderful, light-smelling hydrosol. It is a perfect solution for cooling and soothing irritated skin (especially in case of bug bites) and can help the healing process of your skin after minor cuts or burns. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, so it is great for reducing redness. Also, its natural scent is undoubtedly extremely relaxing which is why it is great to apply it to your sheets before going to bed. Its use is suitable for all skin types.

 

Chamomile: Chamomile is cicatrisant, which means it helps the regeneration process of skin cells. It can be used to clean and soothe the skin after cuts or other minor injuries. Thanks to its anti-fungal properties, it can help you maintain the health of the skin on your feet. Chamomile also has relaxing and emotionally restorative properties and is excellent for relieving minor allergic reactions.

 

Peppermint: Peppermint hydrosol is useful for heartburn, bloat, colic and other digestive issues. It is a relief to those suffering with Crohn's disease or colitis. A peppermint hydrosol treatment will do wonders for bad breath or acneic skin by having detoxifying effects on both the liver and the colon."

 

Neroli: Neroli is a product of the bitter orange tree which is widely used for a variety of different issues. Its appealing scent has made it a popular ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics, but research has also shown that it has numerous benefits beyond just having a nice smell. It lowers blood pressure, it is great for skincare, for reducing stress and against the symptoms of menopause. It also has anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties.

 

How to incorporate hydrosols in your beauty routine?

If you do not use hydrosols as an ingredient of a given product, but purely on their own, you have a wide range of possible uses to discover and exploit. As they are very gentle to the skin, hydrosols can be used multiple times a day, and you do not have to worry about any unexpected negative side-effects.

We collected a few ways you can incorporate a floral water into your beauty routine:

  • You can use it together with a face or body oil to help the absorption of the oil into your skin. Spray the hydrosol generously on your skin before applying the oil. This combination has the similar benefits as using a facial cream or a lotion, but they do not contain any emulsifiers or preservatives.
  • Hydrosols are also great for keeping your makeup in place, so you can easily use them to set your makeup. Spray some on after your makeup is done to help it stay in place. Applying hydrosol after having finished your makeup gives it all a natural glow and a more lifelike appearance on the whole.
  • Another possible daily use of hydrosols is as gentle makeup remover. Hydrosols can work the same way as cleansing liquids: just spray some hydrosol on a clean cotton pad to remove your makeup. You can use hydrosols together with other products, before, or after removing your makeup to et rid of any residual makeup before going to bed.
  • Keeping up the pH balance of your skin is of utmost importance in order to keep your facial skin healthy. This is another thing hydrosols can help you with. Generally, tap water in our homes is neutral or slightly alkaline, whereas our skin’s optimal pH is around 5.5, which is slightly acidic in order to inhibit the growth of bacteria on the skin. Hydrosols are also slightly acidic and can help restore your skin's pH after removing your makeup or washing your face with tap water. Where they are good for this, our Revitalizing Facial Toner is a much better option. 
  • If you are regularly using powdered face masks, it might be a good idea to mix them with hydrosols instead of water so that you can enjoy both products’ benefits. This way, you can also add different properties to your regular face mask’s benefits without having to purchase several different products.

 

Other uses of hydrosols

Hydrosols are not restricted to the world of beauty and skincare, and they can help to fill your life with lovely scents at a relatively low cost. Here are some ways you can use hydrosols around the house on a daily basis, in order to make nice floral scents an evidence in your home.

  • Linen spray: You can use hydrosols as linen sprays, and you do not have to worry about leaving a stain, as these products are water-based. Make sure to read the effects of the given floral water before using it on your bed sheets – you do not want to wake yourself up with the scent of peppermint, you should rather go for lavender!

  • Home-made cleaning sprays: Use hydrosols as the base of your home-made cleaners in order to avoid oily stains, but still leave behind a lovely scent. Spray hydrosol on your duster or on a cloth before wiping the surface and enjoy the gentle smell for hours! The use of hydrosols around animals and young children is perfectly safe, so you can use it to clean all kinds of surfaces. Take the first steps towards a sustainable zero-waste home today, and start making your own cleaners for everyday use!
  • Room fresheners: Brighten your home with the scent of your favorite hydrosol! Just spray it in the air around the house and enjoy its benefits. You can repeat this several times during the day, as you really cannot overuse hydrosols. They are also a lot cheaper than essential oils, so your wallet will not get into trouble either!
  • Baths and showers: Add a spoonful of hydrosol to your bath to enjoy a relaxing, aromatic experience. As all floral waters are water soluble, they can be easily added to any bath. Choose your favorite scent and treat yourself regularly – because you deserve it! You can also use hydrosols mixed with water as a spray in the shower: A few pumps on your body or in the air and you can easily turn your daily shower routine into a relaxing floral experience.
  • Cooling sprays for summer days: Mix a few spoonfuls of hydrosol with water in in a spray bottle to create your personalized mist for hot summer days. Take it with you everywhere – to work, to the beach, to festivals, and enjoy its cooling effect any time throughout the day! You can use it as often as you like, and it is super easy to refill the bottle any time!

Make your own hydrosol at home!

Although at first blink it might seem difficult to make hydrosols, in reality it is actually rather simple process, and anyone can give it a try. You will not need anything special other than fragrant plant parts, and a few other things that can be found in every household. In this article you can read a step-by-step guide about how to make your own hydrosol easily, without having to worry about burning your house down. If you have some fragrant flowers growing in your garden, you can actually make it a 100% homemade product. Now, how cool is that?

Essential oil vs. hydrosol

Essential oils are extremely concentrated which is why it is important not to be a total beginner at aromatherapy when you start using them. Keep it in mind that essential oils are very powerful. They do have considerable advantages, but the amount of essential oil you use does matter, and if you do not pay attention to the doses, these products can easily have unexpected negative side-effects such as irritation, burning, asthma attacks and headaches.

Hydrosols, on the other hand, cannot be overdosed which is why they are an easier and safer way to take your first steps in the world of aromatherapy. It is also why they are often recommended when you first think of experimenting with the numerous beneficial effects of essential oils. The fact that they are less concentrated makes them a lot safer for home and non-professional use, but it is not rare that even aromatherapy professionals choose hydrosols as the primary product in their treatments. Another benefit of hydrosols that we should not overlook is that they are a lot cheaper than essential oils, which is why they make the world of aromatherapy accessible for a much wider range of the population.

Hydrosols to every household!

If you have not been using hydrosols so far, it is about time you gave them a try. It is an experience worth trying, and there is no doubt that sooner or later you will become a regular user. Floral waters are easy to get “addicted” to, but fortunately you do not have to worry about going bankrupt because of the excessive use of hydrosols. Choose a scent and dive into this floral experience that will revolutionize everyday life in your household!



Kinga Sümegi
Kinga Sümegi

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