If you are familiar with essential oils, you have likely heard hydrosols mentioned a time or two. If you aren’t familiar with hydrosols, you’re about to be! In this post I’ll tell you what hydrosols are, when to use hydrosols, and some of my favorite hydrosols to use for various recipes and skincare.
What are hydrosols?
Hydrosols are most often a byproduct of essential oil distillation. Some call hydrosols “hydrolats,” but most refer to them as hydrosols now-a-days.
The quick explanation is that hydrosols are the cooled “steam” that results from hydro-distilling or steam distilling essential oils. Steam distillation is a process by which steam passes through plant matter, causing the cell walls to break open and releasing essential oils from those plant parts. Then the steam/oil is condensed causing the oil and water to separate. The essential oil is then collected, leaving the hydrosol behind.
While most hydrosols are a result of this process, there are distillers who produce just hydrosols. These often are handcrafted and boast a superior quality hydrosol.
Hydrosols are quite different than essential oils:
- Hydrosols generally do not need to be diluted
- Hydrosols are safe to use around children and pets
- Hydrosols are often less expensive
- Hydrosols are water-soluble
- Hydrosols expire more quickly than essential oils
- Hydrosols are not sensitive to light (do not require amber bottles)
Another big difference is that hydrosols often smell differently than their essential oil counterparts. For example, Helichrysum hydrosol does not retain the sweet honey-like aroma that helichrysum essential oil has.
When to use hydrosols:
This one depends on the user. Hydrosols have a lighter aroma that evaporates more quickly than an essential oil. That makes them great for persons with aroma sensitivities.
It also makes them ideal for young children. I have seen very few cautions from using hydrosols with babies and young children. Most regard hydrosols as safe to use with all populations. This opens the door to many different possibilities!
Hydrosols are also useful for pets! Many essential oils are toxic to household pets like dogs and cats. Hydrosols are actually encouraged for healthy skin and coats for many animals. I’ve even seen a few great flea and tick repellent recipes using hydrosols.
There are also many times where an essential oil just won’t work. Essential oils are just that, oils. Oil and water don’t mix- so there are many times where you can’t use an essential oil in DIY recipe unless you use an emulsifier. Perfumes and sprays are perfect examples of this. While I’ve combined essential oils and water to make linen sprays, I’m always afraid they will leave oil marks on my sheets, so a hydrosol just makes sense in that case.
I’ve mentioned a few uses above, but these are how I personally use hydrosols.
- To replace the water content in DIY recipes
- I’ve made homemade baby wipes several ways (see my DIY baby wipe spray and DIY baby wipes in a mason jar). However, lately I’ve been replacing the water in those recipes with Lavender hydrosol (and helichrysum sometimes). I’ve definitely seen an improvement on redness since switching.
- I mentioned before that instead of mixing essential oils with water, I’ll replace it entirely with a hydrosol. I do this for linen sprays, mists, and even some cleaning recipes.
- On my babies under 3 months
- When my second little one was born, I avoided essential oils for the first three months to prevent possible sensitization. Also, babies are so delicate that I didn’t want to harm his little system.
- As a facial toner
- Over the last few months, I’ve been using Helichrysum hydrosol as a toner for my face. It has been working really well to keep my skin from being overdry. I have combination skin that is dry at times, but when I use a moisturizer (oil-based or even oil free), I break out! Helichrysum hydrosol works much better for me.
- As a linen spray
- For pillow mist (for children and myself)
- I have a very active toddler. Sometimes it’s hard to get him to quiet down at night. We spray a mist of Lavender, Calendula, and Roman Chamomile hydrosols on his pillow at night as we are reading bedtime stories.
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