You may have heard about hydrosols and perhaps already tried these amazing healing waters orally or in footbaths.
If you are one of these people then you will know how valuable they can be, and why author Jeanne Rose refers to hydrosols as the ‘homeopathy of aromatherapy’.
If you’ve yet to discover their healing powers, then this article is just for you. Hydrosols are safe, ‘ready to use’ aromatherapy products to care for the skin, revive and refresh flagging energy levels, as well as soothe and calm emotions. All at the same time!

How are Hydrosols made?
A Hydrosol is made by steam distilling plant material.
The essential oil is floating in it.
Sometimes they are distilled specifically for the Hydrosol, rather than for the essential oil.
When essential oils are extracted from plants by steam distillation not all of their aromatic and healing principles are carried over to the distilled oil.
Certain constituents in plants are hydrophilic, which means they dissolve in water and so they can’t be captured by the steam-distillation process.
These hydrophilic constituents are absorbed into the steam that is used to distill the essential oil, and this steam later condenses back into water which is called distillate or condensate water. This water is now made up of small quantities of essential oil plus many of the water-soluble parts of the plant, which means it actually contains a wider-range of therapeutic properties than the essential oil. In aromatherapy, we call this a Hydrosol, Hydrolate, Flower water or Herbal Espresso.

This combination of very small quantities of essential oil and water-soluble botanical extracts is what makes Hydrosols so effective, since they are packed with more active principles than the essential oil alone, plus they offer a safe and convenient way to deliver a wide range of therapeutic and cosmetic benefits.
Many people are surprised to learn they have been used for their healing powers since ancient times, actually pre-dating the use of essential oils.
Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used Hydrosols for their therapeutic and aesthetic benefits along with their infusions and unguents for health and beauty. They made them by simply soaking plant material in boiling water to absorb their healing properties – simple but effective.
After the art of distillation was developed it was used specifically for producing these aromatic waters with less attention on the precious essential oil extracted in the same process.
Precisely when distilled essential oils first became popular in Europe is not clear, but a renowned publication called ‘Liber De Arte Distillandi’ written by Hieronymus Brunschwig in Strassburg 1507 AD refers to only 4 essential oils. Unfortunately, over time essential oils slowly became more popular and the use of hydrosols fell out of favour.

The great thing about Hydrosols is their versatility and ease of use, plus their wonderful uplifting boost.
When added to your skin care products, Lavender, Rose, Orange blossom (Neroli), Bamboo and Aloe vera Hydrosols are fantastic for skin hydration since they can be sprayed directly on the skin.
Lavender Hydrosol will cool hot and sensitised skin after too much exposure to the sun, as well as delivering a soothing, comforting and healing treatment.
Hydrosols can be used after shampooing to condition and add shine to hair, and Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Lemongrass Hydrosol is perfect for this.
If you suffer from puffy, under-eye circles then there is no better remedy than Roman chamomile Hydrosol. Soak two cotton wool pads with the Hydrosol and cover each closed eye for around 5 minutes while they work their magic. During the treatment you may feel your skin tingling but this is normal. Remove the eye pads after 5 minutes and rinse off the Hydrosol completely. Y
our eyes will feel revived, refreshed and alert, and you should see an impressive reduction in puffiness. In fact, regular use of this Hydrosol can help reduce those dreaded dark circles that sometimes develop over the years too.
However, some Hydrosols such as Roman and German Chamomile do not smell nice! They both have an earthy, musty fragrance that is unlike the essential oil, and newbie’s often ask whether these Hydrosols have gone ‘off’!
In fact, true Hydrosols hardly ever smell like their essential oil, because the characteristic smell of the plant is what was distilled to produce the essential oil.
Only a very small amount of essential oil was left behind in the Hydrosol. Most of its aroma is made up of water-soluble components that smell quite different from the oil.
But once you have experienced the amazing benefits of Hydrosols you will soon learn to accept their different aroma!
Fortunately, Frankincense, Lavender, Geranium, Peppermint, Lemograss, Citronella and Rosemary hydrosols all smell much more as you would expect them to be, with Orange flower and Rose being almost the same as their essential oil counterparts.

Hydrosols can be used anytime as a cooling body mist.
They really come into their own during the hot summer weather.
The most cooling of all Hydrosols are Peppermint, Moxa (Artemisia Argiye), Aloe vera and Bamboo.
A quick spray on tired and aching feet feels like heaven after a long walk!
During a hectic or busy day when your energy levels begin to drop, just a few sprays of a refreshing Hydrosol of Orange flower, Rose or Geranium really revives you.
To calm a restless baby add a tablespoon of Lavender or Geranium Hydrosol into their warm bathwater. This can be particularly beneficial if your baby is also suffering from nappy rash or eczema, because the soothing properties of these Hydrosols calm the irritation as well as speeding up the process of healing.
Hydrosols are perfectly safe to use on young children because they only contain a tiny amount of essential oil and therefore they don’t need further dilution.
We add Orange, Kaffir Lime/Bergamot, Lemongrass or Rose Hydrosol to the final rinse water in our washing cycle or use themas a fragrant linen spray while ironing since they smell much nicer than their synthetic counterparts.
In fact, you can use Hydrosols all around the house to freshen the air instead of using chemical aerosols, which of course are harmful to you and the environment.
Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2021. Written by Sue Charles. Edited by Cory 2024
NOTE : We mainly steam distillate organic Thai Herbs for their beautiful Hydrosols which we also consume orally for their therapeutic benefits…
Our most popular Hydrosls are :
Peppermint, Aloe vera, Artemisia argiye (moxa), Clove, Citronella, Lemongrass, Ginger, Turmeric, Plaai, Cardamom, Kaffir Lime /Bergamot (Makrud in Thai), Orange Mandarin, Bitter leaf, Patchouli, Eucalyptus, Vetiver and Black Pepper.
Just imagine adding a few drops of these marvels to your juices and foods…
During the dry and hot season, when the PM2.5 air particles are quite high, we also use the Hydrosols in our Air diffusers and humidifiers… or we just let them evaporate naturally in a ceramic bowl to facilitate our breathing !

They may look like water but they sure do not taste like it and they carry a real punch.