Hydrosol is a term commonly used in chemistry to mean a water solution. It comes from Latin- hydro meaning water and sol which is shortened from solution. Even though in a chemical context, hydrosol could mean any aqueous solution; in the aromatherapy context it means a “water solution” of the aromatic plant- plant extracts which produced during the steam distillation process of obtaining aromatic essential oils.
Hydrosols have several uses. Since they contain the water soluble components extracted from the plants during the steam distillation process as well as trace amounts of the essential oils; they exhibit several therapeutic properties of the corresponding essential oils. Some hydrosols such as Rose ‘or’ Neroli (Orange Blossoms) can act as an authentic but cheaper alternative or substitute for their very expensive essential oil counterparts.
Do note that there is a difference between Hydrosols and aromatic waters. As noted earlier; hydrosols are water solutions and are also called as hydrolates, hydrolats, and floral waters or plant waters. They are the condensate water that is coproduced during the steam or hydro distillation of plant material for aromatherapeutic purposes. Hence hydrosols contain a “water extract” of the plant material. Aromatic water on the other hand is obtained by adding essential oils to water to produce fragrant (aromatic) water. Keeping in mind that oil and water do not mix- in order to make aromatic water one needs to shake this compound solution constantly and allow it to remain mixed for a considerable length of time to obtain aromatic water with any significant fragrance. Otherwise, one would note that the water stays at the bottom and the essential oil floats to the top. It needs to be noted that commercially available aromatic waters contain emulsifiers which helps to keep the oil and water blended together.
Unlike hydrosols which is a by-product produced during the extraction of essential oil during steam distillation; aromatic waters are fairly easy to prepare on one’s own and hence also a cheaper alternative to the more expensive hydrosols.
Such therapeutic waters can be used to-
Cool a hot skin which is inflamed due to heat or hot flashes.Ø Soothe skin which is inflamed from excessive heat and/or sunburn.
Freshen up any room space.
Spritz on face to set make up. Spritz on finger nails to encourage healthy growth of nails.
Can be added to face packs and other such beautifying recipes which call for use of water as one of the key hydrating ingredient.Ø
Sprayed on clothes during ironing to infuse them with mild aroma.
Care and precautions during hydrosols usage- One should take all the safety measures and precautions for hydrosol usage that one would for their corresponding essential oil. For further details note the section on Safety and Contraindications. In addition note that fresh hydrosol which has been produced in a clean distilled environment would be pure and free of bacteria. To preserve its quality and ensure its effectiveness; hydrosols should be kept in the refrigerator and used in the year of distillation. It is always advisable to use fresh hydrosols in hygiene and skin care. Older hydrosols could be used as room fresheners.
Keeping in mind that there are many fake and adulterous aromatherapeutic products commercially available- it becomes imperative that one carefully chooses a product which has been manufactured by an authentic source and has been obtained by natural means in an environmentally friendly method of preparation.
Sandhya Bhat: http://www.sandhya-bhat.com/; http://www.healingwitharoma.com/; http://www.incenseandaromatherapy.com/