Hydrosols, also referred to as “flower waters,” are made by distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers, and other plant materials. They’re the “baby” that’s derived from distilling aromatic materials like herbs for their essential oils, but much less concentrated than essential oil with an aroma that’s more subtle and soft, and sometimes a bit of a greener note which comes from the water-soluble healing compounds in the plant material that aren’t found in the essential oil.
It’s only recently that these flower waters have been saved, rather than disposed of as byproducts. As their unique therapeutic and medicinal properties had yet to be realized the only type typically found has been orange blossom and rose hydrosols, but today, the hydrosols of many aromatic herbs are becoming appreciated for their hydrating, anti-inflammatory properties that aren’t found in essential oils. While most essential oils must be diluted, hydrosols do not – they’re less concentrated, which means they’re more gentle and also safer to use while containing the beneficial products of essential oils.
Hydrosols can be used both internally and externally provided they come from a non-toxic plant. Their lighter flavor and aroma make them pair fabulously with other ingredients in baked goods like cookies, as well as in skin care recipes such as lotions, creams, and body mists. If you want to make your own, you can use this general recipe and include whatever fresh plant material you’d like, such as peppermint leaves, lavender, roses, lemon balm, rosemary, etc.
What You’ll Need To Make Your Own Hydrosol
- Large pot with a lid, such as a pot for canning
- A small container or bowl that will be placed inside of the pot to collect the hydrosol
- A jar rack, heat-proof ramekin or another heat-proof item to stand your container on inside the pot
- Distilled or filtered water
- Ice cubes
- Plant material (at least 3 quarts, fresh-picked)
- A spray bottle with a mister
- Place the jar rack, ramekin or another heat-proof item in the bottom of your large pot then add the smaller container or bowl on top of that.
- Now fill the bottom of your large pot with the plant material – the plants should reach up to the smaller container or bowl.
- Fill the pot with water, just until the plant material is submerged.
- Place the lid for the larger pot upside down, on top of the large pot. Fill it will ice cubes.
- Allow everything to heat up. You want the water surrounding the plant material to steam, but not boil. The process generally takes 20 minutes or so. If you use a clear lid, you’ll be able to see the hydrosol condense. The water steams the plant material, which carries all of those wonderful benefits into the air. The steam collects on the lid and condenses, thanks to the ice cubes. As the lid is on the pot upside down, the steam is then transformed back into a liquid which is directed to drip down inside the smaller bowl – that liquid is the hydrosol.
- Store your hydrosol in a dark glass container in the refrigerator.
There is practically an endless number of ways to use hydrosols, these recipes will help you get started.
A Basic Hydrosol Hair Rinse
To make a basic Hydrosol hair rinse, combine your favorite hydrosol with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar. Rinse your hair with this mixture once each week to dissolve residue from shampoos and all of those other hair products. It will help improve softness and shine while helping to balance the PH of your hair and scalp.
A Hair Spritz
For a hair spritz, try combining an aromatic hydrosol (lavender, rosemary or chamomile are fabulous) with an equal portion of witch hazel in a spray bottle. Spritz liberally on hair after it’s been towel dried.
This luxurious conditioner will leave your hair feeling soft and silky. Simply warm up an ounce of shea butter until it’s soft and pliable. Now whisk in about a tablespoon for your desired hydrosol. Here are some ideas:
- Clary sage is great for stimulating the scalp and promoting hair growth.
- Cedarwood also stimulates the scalp and can trigger increased hair growth.
- Chamomile adds softness and shine to the hair while soothing the scalp.
- Lavender is a great deep conditioner that helps control dandruff and keep the hair shiny.
- Rosemary stimulates the roots, improves hair growth and boosts circulation in the scalp.
- Sandalwood aids in repairing dry ends and adds a pleasant fragrance to the hair.
Rose Body Lotion
While this recipe is a little more extensive, it’s surprisingly easy to make your own lotion, in fact, it’s quite similar to making your own sauce. Once you do, you may never go back to store-bought, especially considering how expensive those high-end brands can be, not to mention potentially unsafe ingredients.
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, refined or unrefined
- 1/2 ounce cocoa butter
- 1 tbsp rosehip seed oil
- 1 tbsp vitamin E oil
- 1 oz beeswax
- 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
- 1/4 cup organic rose hydrosol
- 10 drops patchouli essential oil
- 10 drops sandalwood essential oil
- 10 drops balsam essential oil
- In a glass Pyrex bowl or a glass Pyrex measuring cup (at least 4 cup size), blend the grapeseed and coconut oil, cocoa butter, rosehip seed oil, vitamin E oil, and beeswax. Heat over boiling water until melted and combine well.
- Remove the bowl or cup from the heat and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes. If you need to speed things up you can place it in your freezer or refrigerator for a few minutes instead.
- Combine the aloe vera gel and rose hydrosol in a separate bowl.
- Once your oils have cooled, it’s time to mix everything together. Pour all of your melted oils and the beeswax into the pitcher of the blender and mix on a medium setting.
- Gradually add the aloe vera gel/rose hydrosol mixture, pouring it slowly and steadily into the pitcher. Keep in mind that it can take a while to mix everything until it’s thick and creamy – it can take as long as 10 minutes or as short as just a few. When it’s ready, it should have a texture similar to a medium thick pudding.
- Add the patchouli, sandalwood and balsam essential oils. Keep in mind that if you don’t have balsam, you can substitute for lavender essential oil.
- Pour your finished lotion into containers. Be sure to allow the lotion to cool completely before putting lids on the containers.
- Store your lotion in a cool area that’s out of direct sunlight and it will last for about a month.
Natural Bathroom Spray
This is a great natural chemical-free alternative for cleaning your bathroom, ideal for surfaces like counters and sinks.
- 16 oz spray bottle
- 14 oz rosemary hydrosol
- 3 tbsp Castille soap
- 15 drops tea tree essential oil
- 15 drops oregano essential oil
Add all ingredients to the spray bottle and shake to mix; use the spray to clean up surfaces in your bathroom.
This spray is an alternative to chemical sprays like Febreze. You can use it as a room deodorizer, to refresh your sofa, fabric covered chairs, pillows, bed linens, mattresses and more.
- 16 oz spray bottle
- 3 oz vodka (unflavored)
- 15 drops of your favorite essential oil (sweet orange, lemon, and lavender are ideal)
- 12 oz hydrosol of your choice
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle; shake well before every use.
You can create your own mouthwash to suit your particular needs and desires. Here are just a few ideas to consider:
Spearmint Antiseptic Mouthwash: Combine one-half cup spearmint hydrosol, one-half cup calendula hydrosol and one cup cinnamon hydrosol.
Peppermint Antiseptic Mouthwash: Combine one-half cup peppermint hydrosol, one-half cup calendula hydrosol, and one cup cistus hydrosol.
Cooling Peppermint Anti-Inflammatory Mouth Rinse: Combine one-half cup peppermint hydrosol, one-half cup German chamomile hydrosol and one cup lavender hydrosol.
Cooling Pain Reliever For Muscle Aches & Pains
If you suffer from muscle aches and pains frequently due to a chronic condition, an exuberant workout or something else, this is something you’ll definitely want to have on hand.
- 1 cup Aloe vera gel
- 1 tbsp Laurel (bay) hydrosol
- 1 tbsp St. John’s Wort herbal oil
- 1 tbsp arnica oil
- 12 drops birch or wintergreen essential oil
- 14 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops peppermint essential oil
Add all ingredients to a glass bowl. Stir well using a stainless steel whisk. If you need to, you can add a bit more aloe vera gel to thicken it up, or add more hydrosol if you’d like it to be thinner, or eliminate the sticky/tacky feeling a gel typically has. Apply it to any sore muscles, like your shoulders or on the back of your neck if you’re especially tense in that area. You can also rub it into any areas of your body where there are aches and pains. Store the remainder in a glass jar and keep it out of direct sunlight.
A Spicy-Floral Room Spray
This room spray has a wonderful aroma that will help deodorize any room, leaving a fantastic, spicy-floral scent.
- Spray bottle with mister
- 3 oz rose hydrosol
- 14 drops ginger essential oil
- 12 drops cedarwood essential oil
- 8 drops frankincense essential oil
- 8 drops geranium essential oil
Add all ingredients to the spray bottle. Shake well, and shake before each use.
Camping Shower Spray
If you’re the more adventurous camper type, meaning you like to stay as far away from civilization as you possibly can, meaning you have no access to a shower, other than taking a dip in a river, stream, or lake, this lovely spritz is ideal. It complements the wilderness experience, and you can change it up as you like to make it more woodsy or to have more of a fruity, floral scent.
- 4 oz or larger spray bottle
- 2 oz catnip hydrosol
- 2 oz witch hazel extract
- 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 5 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 4 drops cedarwood essential oil
Add the catnip hydrosol and witch hazel extract to your spray bottle and then add all remaining essential oils. Shake well to combine. Shake prior to every use and keep it away from direct sunlight. It does not have to be stored in the refrigerator between camping excursions, but it may last longer if you’re able to do so.
To use it, spray just before getting dressed in the morning or following that wilderness dip in the lake or another body of water.