You may have heard of hydrolats (also known as hydrosols) but do you really know what they are? And do you know how these exquisitely beautiful natural plant products can be used? They certainly don’t get the attention they deserve, and they represent a massive untapped therapeutic resource.
Let me explain more…
What are hydrolats?
When you steam-distill certain plant materials you end up with a mixture which quickly separates out into two component parts: An oily, ‘water-hating’ part (the plant’s essential oil) that generally floats on the surface; and a water-based product. It is this watery compound that is known as the hydrolat.
Many people believe that hydrolats could turn out to be as useful — or in some cases more useful — than essential oils in terms of their therapeutic value. Certainly they are gentler and safer than essential oils, and have application where great sensitivity is required, for example with babies, young children, the elderly, and also with animals. But consider also that the body is largely composed of water, so the water-loving compounds from the plant will have a natural affinity with human tissue.
Hydrolats contain essential oils
It is actually not quite correct to say that essential oils don’t dissolve in water because there will always be some essential oil contained in the hydrolat. And this is an interesting fact, because there is a view that lower concentrations of essential oils can actually be more powerful than higher concentrations, in the same way that homoeopathic remedies are more powerful in greater dilutions.
Hydrolats you already know
Did you think you had never come across hydrolats? True rosewater is simply Rose Hydrolat. Yes that’s the same rosewater that is used in Turkish Delight and in many delicious Indian sweets, such as kulfi. And Witchhazel, used for centuries as a cure-all for all manner of skin complaints and minor cuts and bruises, is simply the hydrolat from the Hamamelis plant (and incidentally one of the strongest anti-oxidant hydrosols). But one thing to beware of: many commercial hydrolats contain man-made preservatives and/or alcohol. Oshadhi Hydrolats are the pure product of the distillation process with nothing added or taken away.
How they are normally used
Hydrolats are generally used topically or internally. Most hydrolats may be taken internally in a dilute solution. This is generally a couple of tablespoons per litre of water. Now we are saying that hydrolats are significant and that means that they are powerful so it is worth doing some reading to see what may be suitable for your particular needs. Also it is always a good idea as with any remedy to have some time off. Suzanne Catty (see reference below) suggests three weeks on and a week off to give the body a chance to assimilate the energy of the plant.
Hydrolats for skin care
Hydrolats may be used as natural facial toners before a facial massage or as part of a regular regimen. They have a pH value of between about 4 and 6 (depending on the plant), which is perfect for skin care. Many commercial skin toners are made from blends of hydrolats.
We’ve prepared a downloadable leaflet on hydrolats in facial care which could be of interest to you. You can also find information about hydrolats at the website. In all we supply approximately 60 different hydrolats, many certified organic.
If you want to follow your interest in hydrolats by far the best book that I’ve found is: Hydrosols – The Next Aromatherapy, by Suzanne Catty. It’s readily available, well-written, informative, knowledgeable, and best of all her enthusiasm jumps out of every page.