Aromatic Waters

| June/July 2003

  • Kathleen McKeehen

  • A filter collects the blue Artemisia aborescens hydrosol. Most other hydrosols are colorless.
  • Stills like this durable kettle type are available in stainless steel or aluminum alloy and cost about $1000.
  • Copper stills are lightweight and easy to transport for field distillation, but some argue that they may leave residue in the hydrosol, while others say copper unit distillation enhances the scent.
    Photo courtesy of Jeanne Rose
  • A separator used in a small home unit is shown here releasing the hydrosol, or floral water, from the essential oil floating on top.

For fragrances and gentle healing that make cents as well as sense, try the light touch of hydrosols.

Rose Geranium Lotion
Facial Mist
Tootsie Treat Foot Scrub 

Once discarded as mere byproducts of the distillation process, fragrant floral waters, called hydrosols, are now recognized by many aromatherapists for their therapeutic value. These waters are used not only in creating a relaxing and fragrant environment but also in the treatment of minor physical and emotional problems.

Hydrosols are created by the same process used to extract essential oils from plants. They are not simply a mixture of water and a few drops of essential oil. They have found a significant place in the fragrance world.

You may have heard of two well-known aromatic waters but never realized they were hydrosols. Witch hazel has commonly been used as an astringent for years and is still sold in drugstores; rose water is used in several cosmetics and in ethnic recipes.

Hydrosols are gentler than essential oils, making them safer for small children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems

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