Natural, holistic, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, all buzzwords that have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Yet, these words are not actually new at all. All of the food and products that the earliest humans used were natural, organic and non-GMO, without effort. As the need for faster processing time arose and there was less money and materials available, people had to discover ways to make food cheaper and yield more quantity in a shorter amount of time. This resulted in taking shortcuts in the way things were made and unnatural materials added to food and products.
As a world, we are moving further and further away from that natural state in the foods we eat and products we use, causing our bodies to become more and more out of balance, which leads to physical illness and mental and emotional challenges. We then seek health care to treat the conditions. Traditional medical care treats the diagnosis and illness, not the person. Whereas, holistic health care focuses on the the whole person – mind, body and spirit, and observes the illness in relation to how the body is working as a whole, instead of focusing on one specific symptom. One aspect of holistic health is aromatherapy, which is a form of alternative medicine that uses plant material for both physical and mental well-being. The process of creating a product from that plant material is referred to as hydrosols and essential oils.
What is a hydrosol?
A therapeutic and aromatic water that is the product of steam distillation of plant matter.
What is an essential oil?
A highly concentrated extraction of the fragrance properties of plants.
How do hydrosols differ from essential oils?
A hydrosol is the leftover water in the process of making essential oils. In essential oil production, the hydrosol is considered waste and is discarded, yet the hydrosol is equally beneficial and effectively uses the majority of the plant matter, resulting in less waste. Hydrosols are much less concentrated than essential oils. They can be used directly on the skin without any further dilution and can even be taken internally, unlike essential oils. Hydrosols do not give off the same fragrant smell as essential oils, but do contain the same therapeutic qualities.
Due to their gentle nature, hydrosols are an excellent choice for:
- Babies and children
- People with skin sensitivities
- People who are sensitive to fragrances and scents
Hydrosols can be used as:
- Aromatherapy spray
- Bug spray
- Skin condition relief
- Skin toner
- Air freshener
- Cleaning product
- DIY lotion ingredient
Since water and oil do not mix, hydrosols cannot be put directly into carrier oils like essential oils can. Another alternative to using essential oils is by infusing the carrier oil directly with herbs. Carrier oils that are best for infusing include: olive oil, sunflower oil, and jojoba oil. The infused oils can then be used to make balms and salves.
You can purchase pre-made hydrosols or make your own. When purchasing pre-made hydrosols and infused oils, or products to make your own, make sure you are getting it from a reputable company. Mountain Rose Herbs and Pompeii Organics have a wide variety of healing products and ingredients and can verify where their products come from.
Strongly scented herbs produce the most aromatic waters and infused oils, yet, almost any herb or plant can be used.
Some plants that are best to use when making hydrosols are:
Hydrosols should be stored in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place where the temperature is regulated. The shelf life varies depending on the type of plant used, but generally ranges from 6 months to 2 years.
Learn how to make your own here!
I am not condemning the use of essential oils! Essential oils are a healthier, safer alternative to synthetic and chemical fragrances. In my search to live a holistic, natural lifestyle, I am always trying to find ways to use products that are closest to their natural state. Hydrosols are a more natural way to use the therapeutic plant qualities and for that reason, my preference and suggestion.