If you’re into aromatherapy or chemical-free health and beauty products, you may have come across the term hydrosol at some point and might be a little curious as to what they are.
Hydrosols are basically aromatic and therapeutic waters that are created when plant matter has gone through a steam distillation process. The heat from the steam softens the plant materials which then release all their beneficial compounds into the steam vapour. When the steam condensates and cools, it becomes a mixture of liquidised plant matter and water. The top layer of liquid is extracted and is what we call essential oils. The remaining liquid is hydrosol. It is also known as floral water or hydrolat.
Hydrosols can then be used in a multitude of ways:
- Drink it straight or give some flavour to your soda water
- Put some in your bath
- Use as finger bowls at your dinner table
- Rub on your skin for a gentle cleanse
- Spritz your face with a spray bottle
- Pour straight into your aromatherapy bowl and light the candle
- Add aromatic flavours to your gastronomic dishes
Familiar smelling plants such as lavender and lemongrass are popular for hydrosols as their fragrances are well known as soothing and peaceful. Though hydrosols are becoming popular not only for their aromatic properties but also because of the medicinal qualities that they can offer the user. Herbs and flowers such as lemon balm, chamomile and milk thistle are used because of their known medicinal benefits.
Traditional hydrosols are made in these awesome looking copper distillation set ups called an alembic which were invented in the Arab world around 200AD. These copper alembics perfect a distillation process that has been used to extract plant compounds for around 4,000 years. They’ve always been used for the same purpose – for us to absorb all the natural goodness out of plants.
Hydrosols are now also being used to replace water as an ingredient in some beauty and skincare products with companies talking up their benefits. Keep an eye out on the ingredients lists of chemical free skin creams next time you are shopping.
If you want to know where you can buy hydrosols, check out the Torba Store. They make their own hydrosols right here in Qatar including from local ingredients such as camel grass, frankincense and myrrh. Our store is located in Duhail. Check our instagram for how to get there.