Hydrosols, also called hydrolats, are a wonderful plant-based aromatic water, made from steam distillation of plant material with water. Hydrosols are not as concentrated as essential oils, use less plant material, and are more gentle for everyday use. Hydrosols can also be easily made at home, with either a still or a pot. Hydrosols are so gentle that they can even be used with children and those that otherwise would stay away from concentrated plant compounds.
Surprisingly, hydrosols often smell very different than the plant or the essential oil and can have a unique aroma profile. They may also share only some of the chemical constituents as the essential oil! But a good general rule of thumb is to use the hydrosols in a similar way you would use fresh plant material or essential oils.
Depending on where you are on the planet, you will have different plants available to distill. Vetiver, Neroli, Eucalyptus, and Jasmine are in warmer climates, Mint, Clary Sage, Spruce, and Pine in more northern climates. Find what is local and grows in your area.
A few hydrosols to try:
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis, Matricaria)
Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit)
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
Cucumber (Cucumis sativis)
Elderflower (Sambuca nigra)
Goldenrod (Solidago sp)
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla)
Monarda (Monarda sp)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Pine (Pinus sp)
Rose (Rosa damascena)
Rosemary (Rosemarinus offcinialis)
Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Spruce (Picea sp)
Tulsi (Ocimum sp)
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
How to Use:
Hydrosols are gentle and can be used internally and externally. There are many wonderful recipes for hydrosol cocktails out there, but today, we will focus on the healing components of the body.
Here are some general hydrosol usage categories:
Aromatherapy: Lavender, Rose, Lemon Verbena, Clary Sage, Tulsi
Respiratory Support: Catnip, Douglas Fir, Eucalyptus, Sitka Spruce
Foot odor: Tea Tree, Melissa, Lavender
Athletes Foot: Tea Tree, Monarda, Ponderosa Pine
Dry, Irritated Skin: Calendula, Lemon Balm, Rose Geranium
Eye Compress: Chamomile, Cucumber, Cornflower
Facial: Cistus, Cornflower, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena, Clary Sage, Ponderosa Pine, Rosemary
Anti-inflammatory: Elderflower, German Chamomile, Ponderosa Pine, Rose Geranium, Sitka Spruce, Tulsi
Bath: Goldenrod, Lavender, Rose, German Chamomile
Headache: Lavender, Lemon Balm
Kids Bath: Calendula, German Chamomile, Lavender, Thyme
Diaper Rash Spray: Lavender, Witch Hazel
Acne: Lemon Thyme, Lavender, Lime, Tea Tree, Thyme, Witch Hazel
Scars & Wounds: Cistus, Helichrysum, Tea Tree, Thyme, Yarrow
Bruises: Cornflower, Rose Geranium, Helichrysum, Lavender
Sunburns: Cucumber, German Chamomile, Helichrysum, Lavender, Rose Geranium
Scrapes: Douglas Fir, Lavender, Witch Hazel
Itching: Peppermint, Helichrysum, Lavender, Witch Hazel
Hair & Scalp Care: Rosemary, Witch Hazel, Chamomile, Lavender,
Home: Douglas Fir, Melissa/Lemon Balm, Ponderosa Pine
Digestion: Sweet Basil, Cardamom, Chocolate Mint, Catnip, Coriander, Cucumber, German Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Spearmint, Yarrow
IBD: Cistus, Lemon Balm, Yarrow
Beverages: Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemon Verbena, Pine, Sweet Basil, Sage
Mouth: German Chamomile, Helichrysum, Tea Tree, Calendula, Lemon Verbena, Cinnamon, Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Spearmint, Witch Hazel, Yarrow
Pets: Peppermint, Spearmint, Lavender, Yarrow
Here are a few ways to put them together.
Cooling Body Spray
Stop the Itch
Bug Bite Ice Cubes:
Spray your veggies using Lemon Balm/Melissa
After Sun Spray:
Skin Soothing Bath:
Add ¼ cup of hydrosol to bathwater. Good hydrosols to use include lavender, chamomile, and rose.
This list is compiled just to show you how versatile hydrosols can be, and their gentle nature means you can experiment, try some new combinations, and enjoy their wide uses!
Our Summer 2021 newsletter is live. It is another great issue with articles, photos, recipes, and more.
About Miriah: Adventure seeker, snowboarder, mountain climber, river rat, yogi, surfer wannabe, outdoor enthusiast. Writer, artist, activist, green medicine craftswoman, wondering explorer.
I became a member and volunteer of Herbalists Without Borders in 2012 as the Healing Arts Project Coordinator, while living in Denver, Colorado. In 2014, I began constructing the quarterly newsletters and have served as the editor since and love it. The early newsletters were constructed while I lived remotely from Northern California; off-the-grid, on the move, and usually without internet access! I currently reside in Telluride, Colorado.
Sleep: Sleep is so incredibly critical to body healing and restoration. Sleep is key to cellular healing, soft tissue restoration, mental health, and mind and body recharge. So how can we get the best sleep possible?
Activity: Like sleep, activity is one of those things that is foundational to health. Did you know that activity helps with detoxification and immunity? Your lymphatic system which moves lymphatic fluid (a part of cellular detoxification and metabolic waste) does not have a pump system like your circulatory system. Activity and motion is what moves your lymph, through the use of large skeletal muscles. When you walk, run, bike, or move, your body is moving lymph which keeps toxins and metabolic waste from lingering in your body.
Hydration: We've all heard this, adults should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily, or more with intense activity. But why is this so important? Your body is over 80% water and your cellular, metabolic, digestive, cardiovascular, lymphatic...basically all of your systems depend on the presence of water. Without proper hydration your body cannot function properly. Digestion is impaired, healing slows, and even your mental health can be altered if you are not taking care to drink enough water.
Eat Well: We have all heard this, but what does it mean to eat well? Eating well means that we eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (eat the rainbow of fruit and vegetable colors), eat seasonal, and that we do not eat too many processed/boxed foods, refined sugars, fast foods, or foods with an extreme excess of chemicals. Try some of these tips to eat well!
Vitamin D: Did you know that your body makes vitamin D?! Your body is an incredible self maintaining partnership of systems. When you go outside, your skin makes its own vitamin D from vitamin D receptors which convert sunlight into a form of D that we can use and absorb. Due to our more modern lifestyle vitamin D insufficiency affects almost 50% of the population worldwide. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency (VDD) (Reference). Yet vitamin D is so crucial to our general health and immune system. So how do we get enough?
Vitamin C: Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid is an important essential nutrient that we must obtain from our diet. It is only found in fruit and vegetable foods and is highest in fresh, uncooked foods. Because it is stored in the watery part of fruits and vegetables, it is easily destroyed with cooking. It is known to stimulate our immune systems, is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and has also been shown in studies to help relieve pain from chronic health issues. So how do we get enough vitamin C?
Thank you to volunteers Petra Sovcov for the text, and Cody Selker, for the great graphics!
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