There hardly are any substances that can have properties that outnumber their types. Hydrosols are one of those. They are very mild and soothing in nature and when used in the right proportion and manner, can do wonders.
After steam or water distillation of an essential oil, the leftover water from the distillation is called a hydrosol. Hydrosols are mostly water with the water soluble components of the plant not found in the essential oil. They usually contain a very tiny bit of essential oil at least enough to give the hydrosol the faint aroma of the oil. They are considered great additions to skin tones and sprays, masks and lotions where they are valued for their astringent, soothing and rejuvenating qualities. Because they are almost all water, they are can be used directly on the skin without dilution.
Hydrosols are a secondary byproduct of the steam distillation process used when extracting essential oils from the flowers, stems (bark and resin), leaves, roots, or fruits (skins or entire fruit) of plants with medicinal properties. Hydrosols are sometimes referred to as floral or flower waters. Technically, flower waters are the result of steam distillation of flowers only, whereas a hydrosol refers to both flowering and non-flowering parts of the plant. Unlike essential oils, hydrosols are water based (the result of condensation during steam distillation), containing only water-soluble properties of the plant with trace amounts of essential oils.
Although the term “hydrosol” was coined in 1990, hydrosols such as orange blossom water, rosewater, and witch hazel, have long been used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Orange blossom water (also known as neroli) is distilled from the blossoms of the Seville orange, and is an example of flower water. Witch hazel, produced through steam distillation of the bark, leaves, and twigs of the plant, is an example of a herbal medicinal water, now referred to as a hydrosol. A word of caution however; commercially prepared witch hazel is not a true hydrosol and may contain additives such as alcohol.
Hydrosols are slightly acidic, but not acidic enough to act as a natural preservative and keep them from spoiling when exposed to heat and light. A true hydrosol does not contain additives such as –
A hydrosol should be discarded immediately if it smells bad or develops mold.
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