A side benefit of making a steam distilled essential oil is the hydrosol, or hydrolat. This is the aromatic water that separates from the essential oil in the final stages of extraction and contains not only minute particles of the essential oil and plant acids, but, also the subtle energetic signature of the plant distilled. (You can see both in the glass vessel in the photo; the darker layer at the top is the essential oil and the liquid beneath is the hydrosol).
Up until the late 1800’s, there were at least 45 different plant hydrosols which were regularly used in the official pharmacopeias of the time. Essential oils were seen as the by product of the process and were often discarded. Clearly the emphasis shifted as interest grew in essential oils and hydrosols became less important. By the 1960’s there were barely any hydrosols in use medicinally.
I have yet to invest in my own still but, its something I am curious about as I watch my teachers produce homemade batches of beautiful herbal distillates, like yarrow or sassafras. So, it was a great thrill when I was offered the chance, last week to visit a Southern Oregon lavender distiller to see the process at work.
Since hydrosols contain many of the benefits of essential oils but, are less concentrated, they are safe to use directly on the skin, for ingestion and also for babies and pets.
Lavender Hydrosol Uses:
Regenerative for damaged skin, burns and irritations
Cooling to the emotions and hot flashes
Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. Volume 1 …
By Peter Holmes
Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy. By Suzanne Catty