Splash! Cool Off with an Herbal Spritz

Nothing is more refreshing in the heat of summer than aromatic herbal water.

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Simple, clean, and refreshing, an occasional spritz of an herbal water, like this Citrus and Chamomile Splash, may be as good as turning on the sprinklers.

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Cooling off with herbal and flower waters is a custom that’s centuries old. Victorian women splashed on waters scented with lavender or roses and left these fragrances in the air of any room they passed through. Nowadays, we prefer the light, natural scents that have become popular over the past decade or so. They may be soothing or reviving, depending on the ingredients they contain. My favorites are chock-full of citrus, which awakens something calming and sensual in my soul. They remind me of summer lemonade stands, lemon ices from an Italian market, and fresh orange juice squeezed for a relaxing weekend breakfast.

Unlike perfumes or colognes, these recipes have a very light scent. They produce a quick gust of cooling fragrance that then casually lingers ­without overpowering. All are easy and inexpensive to make.

Each recipe contains grapefruit seed extract, a natural preservative that doesn’t dry the skin or contribute its own fragrance as ethyl alcohol or witch hazel would. It’s available in health-food stores. The other ingredients may be purchased in health-food stores or supermarkets.

I keep my splashes in spray bottles in the refrigerator, which extends their life up to three weeks and makes them feel wonderful on hot skin, especially after hours of working in the garden. When I give splashes as gifts, I attach a note suggesting that they be refrigerated.

Make a Splash

For each splash, crush the dried leaves, combine the ingredients in a glass jar, and let them sit covered at room temperature for two to three days to extract the fragrances. Strain, then transfer the liquid to a storage container. I use tall, shapely glass bottles with labels I’ve made from handmade paper tied to the neck with twine or raffia.

You may adapt any of these recipes as you like or concoct your own, using distilled water and grapefruit seed extract as a base and whatever fragrances most appeal to you. Try rosemary, sage, even balsam fir or pine needles.

Cooling Mint Foot Splash

Makes 1½ cups

This foot refresher is simple and straightforward but even better than the ones sold in fancy body shops. Your tootsies will thank you for the lift.

  • 1½ cups distilled water
  • 30 drops grapefruit seed extract ­liquid concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaves

Citrus and Chamomile Splash

Makes 1½ cups

This, my favorite splash, reminds me of a light and airy cologne I bought one summer in a small village in southern France. Citrus and chamomile make it refreshing and earthy. Sometimes I toss in a teaspoon of dried lavender flowers to make those memories of Provence even more vivid.

  • 1½ cups distilled water
  • 30 drops grapefruit seed extract ­liquid concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grapefruit zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tangelo zest (or zest of tangerine or clementine)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed dried chamomile ­flowers

Spearmint and ­Eucalyptus Splash

Makes 1½ cups

No matter how hard your day has been, this blend of spearmint and hearty eucalyptus is soothing.

  • 1½ cups distilled water
  • 30 drops grapefruit seed extract ­liquid concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons crushed dried eucalyptus leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried spearmint leaves

Spicy Cinnamon-Cedar Splash

Makes 1½ cups

Give this one to the man, or men, in your life.

  • 1½ cups distilled water
  • 30 drops grapefruit seed extract ­liquid concentrate
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 1 teaspoon cedar chips or shavings

Tangy Lime Splash

Makes 1½ cups

The scent of this splash brings back fond memories of childhood mornings when my dad would pat his crisp lime aftershave on my cheeks after first slapping some on his own.

  • 1½ cups distilled water
  • 30 drops grapefruit seed extract ­liquid concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried chamomile ­flowers

Old-Fashioned Rose-Water Splash

Makes 1½ cups

Chamomile mellows the aroma of this lighter version of classic rose water.

  • ¾ cup distilled water
  • ¾ cup bottled rose water
  • 30 drops grapefruit seed extract ­liquid concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried chamomile ­flowers

— Alyssa Ettinger is a freelance home and garden writer who lives in Leonia, New Jersey.