a backyard setup of copper steam still in the process of distilling hydrosols

Hydrosols, Aromatherapy, and Steam Distillation

I was introduced recently by a friend of mine to the world of hydrosols, I came across this one website that sells hydrosols and they have quite a plethora of information.  there is a very interesting phenomena whereby through the process of steam distilling certain plant materials a very fragrant and potent solution is created. This can be applied to many plants and is becoming somewhat of a popular thing, if my research is correct. I spent quite some time digging in the site and thought I’d put together a small guide here for anyone who might be interested in learning more themselves.

woman holding a jar containing freshly distilled hydrosol

What Is A Hydrosol?

One question I was immediately met with is what exactly a hydrosol is, and how it’s made. SO basically you take a bunch of plant material and remove all the bits that you don’t want, for instance the bark or stems. Usually what is used is the leaves or flowers, the most fragrant parts of the plant. These plant materials should be of a very high-quality to ensure a great finished product, but they are then distilled using steam to produce a watered down concentration of the oils from the plant material.

This can then be used in all sorts of manners, a few common examples include sprays, creams, lotions, fragrances, and even cleaning products. I’ve enjoyed using some for aromatherapy purposes, calming and soothing at times and especially after a stressful day.

What Are Some Common Plants Used In Hydrosols?

There are quite a number of plants used in making hydrosols as they all possess different smells, and have different therapeutic effects associated with them. Some of the most common are:

  • Rose
  • Cucumber
  • Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Balsam fir
  • Cedar leaf
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Pear
  • Lemongrass

Each of these plants have unique characteristics that they possess, some are claimed to have healing powers other promote relaxation due to their calming fragrances. These plants are often made into hydrosols and then mixed together to form products of sorts that address specific needs. For instance yoga mat cleaner, skin creams, and more. There are a great number of people that are concerned about using chemicals on their bodies and hydrosols are one very unique way to avoid harsh chemicals, though many should still be aware that plants themselves can be hazardous if used improperly. There is some stories of people having eye damage after using an ointment in their eye that contained the distillation of a specific plant. So make sure, if you do get into hydrosols, that you read up on exactly what you’re getting into before you hurt yourself.