A hydrolat, often called "floral water", corresponds to the water of distillation of a plant. They are called "floral water" when flowers are distilled, but can be obtained from other parts of plants. When this plant is aromatic, distillation also allows to obtain an essential oil. Hydrolats are nevertheless much easier to use and much better tolerated than essential oils, because they contain mostly water. They therefore present very few risks of use. They have many properties, both therapeutic and cosmetic. They are widely used to care for the skin or hair, especially for pregnant women and babies whose use of essential oils is more delicate.
Hydrolats are obtained by steam distillation, or hydrodistillation, of generally aromatic plants. The name "hydrolat" comes from the milky aspect obtained after distillation, "hydro" meaning water and "lat" meaning milk. In concrete terms, after distillation of an aromatic plant, two phases are obtained:
Some hydrolats are finally obtained by distillation of non-aromatic plants. There will be no essential oil at the exit of the distillation apparatus, only hydrolate. It is the case by the Cornflower, the Lime or the Hamamelis whose hydrolats are well known.
Because of their water-rich composition and very diluted active molecules, hydrosols are much less potent than essential oils, and therefore much more flexible in use. They are sometimes considered a by-product of essential oils, even though they have many benefits. They are described as the gentle version of aromatherapy, and can be used by sensitive users, such as pregnant and nursing women or babies, who often cannot use essential oils.
Hydrolats contain mostly water, and a small amount of aromatic molecules and other volatile water-soluble compounds from the plant. This gives them many properties, but also a great flexibility of use. In the same way as essential oils, they are therefore natural extracts useful for many problems. However, there are hundreds of them: as many as essential oils, or even more since they can be derived from non-aromatic plants.
To help identify the most suitable hydrolate for each situation, The company of the senses has set up a very easy-to-use tool: simply enter the desired use, the user, and if necessary, the properties, the smell, and the desired taste to obtain a list of all the hydrolates that can be used.Which hydrolat to choose for each use?
The cures of hydrolat are interesting to the changes of season in particular, either in cure detoxifying to drain the emunctories, or for the immune system. Indeed, hydrolats are good drainers of the body, they have an action on the entire digestive and metabolic system to restore the ground. Hydrolat cures can also be used for chronic problems such as menopause, fatigue, heavy legs, etc. To make a cure of hydrolat, 2 possibilities:
Used punctually, hydrolats can act on more acute problems, in case of digestive disorders, insomnia, etc. Depending on age, the amount of hydrolat to consume will vary:
Depending on the purpose, hydrolats can be diluted in a glass of cold or hot water or in an herbal tea for example. The main thing is not to boil the hydrolat to avoid denaturing it.
Unlike essential oils, hydrolats are perfectly suited for use in the bath, since they are miscible in water. They can be used to enhance the relaxing effects of a bath, for example! Depending on the volume of water and age, the quantity of hydrolat to be added will not be the same:
Hydrosols can also be used to soothe sore and tired feet. In this case, add 3 tablespoons of hydrosol to a basin to make afoot bath.
Finally, hydrosols can be used in sitz bath against genital infections or hemorrhoids for example. For this, add 5 to 10 tablespoons in a suitable basin.
Many hydrolats can be used for oral hygiene in case of infection, mouth ulcers, gingivitis or bad breath for example. This is the case of Noble Laurel, Clove, Tea Tree or Peppermint among others. To take advantage of their benefits, it is possible to use them in mouthwash:
For a localized application of hydrolats on the skin, it is possible to make soaked compresses. To do this, dilute 4 to 5 tablespoons of hydrosol in 100 mL of water. Dip a compress or a clean cloth in the mixture and apply to the skin. Leave on for 20 minutes for best results.
There is no difference between a floral water and a hydrosol. The name "floral water" is simply reserved to designate a flower hydrolate. It is therefore common to speak of Rose floral water, or Cornflower floral water for example. Some hydrolats are nevertheless obtained by distilling other parts of plants, such as seeds (Carrot hydrolate), bark (Cinnamon hydrolate) or leaves (Witch hazel hydrolate). Thus, all floral waters are hydrosols, but not all hydrosols are floral waters. In the context of hydrolatherapy, it is therefore more accurate to use the term hydrolate, or even aromatic hydrolate, in order to affirm that the product has been obtained by distillation of the plant, and to avoid any risk of counterfeiting or misuse of the term "floral water".
Hydrosols have many benefits for the face, and are particularly interesting and suitable for taking care of the skin. On the one hand, they are very soft, have many useful properties for all skin types (astringent, soothing, healing, purifying, etc.), and have a slightly acidic pH,appreciated by the skin whose pH is around 5.5. They can therefore be used pure or diluted, directly on the skin :
Top 5 hydrosols to care for the skin and face:
Hydrosols have several beneficial properties for the hair. In the same way as their various actions on the skin, they also act at the level of the scalp in order to resolve certain problems, or simply to hydrate or parfume the hair. They can be used in a variety of ways:
Top 5 best hydrosols for hair:
For a very long time considered a by-product of distillation, hydrolats are now much more valued and are experiencing a real revival of interest in both cosmetics and aromatherapy. Whether in specialized stores or on the internet, there is now a wide choice of hydrolats, but not all qualities are equal. While it is difficult as a consumer to evaluate the distiller's expertise, it is possible to check certain elements to ensure the quality of the hydrosol purchased: you should favor an organic, preservative-free, concentrated and microfiltered hydrosol.
Choosing to use hydrolats is already choosing to opt for a natural alternative to more conventional products, either to take care of the environment or to take care of one's health. Distillation is a technique that allows the release of the aromatic molecules of the plant, but the process means that some pesticides are also carried away, and can end up in the essential oil or hydrosol. Favoring the BIO certification seems essential on the one hand to limit the use of pesticides during the cultivation of the plant, and on the other hand avoid finding some in its hydrolat.
As hydrolats are mainly composed of water, they are very sensitive to microbial contamination. To overcome this problem, preservatives can be added. The disadvantage of these preservatives, although they are generally of natural origin, is that they must be added in high concentration to be effective, and they must not be ingested. Therefore, hydrolats with preservatives should only be used dermally. To get the most out of the benefits of hydrolats, and to be able to use them in hydrolatherapy, it is therefore best to opt for hydrolats without preservatives. To find out if a hydrosol contains preservatives, simply look at the list of ingredients. Hydrosols without preservatives are thus more susceptible to the risks of microbial contamination. It is best to store them in the refrigerator.
The 1:1 ratio means that 1 kilo of distilled plant yielded 1 liter of hydrosol. Lower quality hydrosols often come from a higher yield, where 1 kilo of plant has yielded 10, 20, or even 50 liters of hydrosol. These are then considered very diluted, and are of little interest. Indeed, although the content of aromatic molecules is not systematically analyzed in hydrolats, the 1:1 ratio is a guarantee of quality because it allows to obtain a concentrated hydrolat. However, this is rarely specified on the labeling of the bottles, and can therefore be difficult for the consumer to control. In this case, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer for more information.
Microbial contamination is very common in hydrosols. Although they are sterile when they leave the still, since the distillation temperature is around 100°C, germs can develop during storage, and thus alter the quality of the hydrosol. To control this risk, a microfiltration step is carried out before each packaging, whether in large cans or small bottles. To do this, the hydrolat passes through one or more filters containing filtering membranes of different diameters. The final filter is usually0.2 microns to retain a maximum of microorganisms, and ensure a clean and healthy hydrosol. Microbiological analyses are then carried out to ensure proper microfiltration, to ensure that no germs have passed into the hydrolat and thus that it is not contaminated. During storage, natural white deposits may form at the bottom of the bottle. Other deposits can nevertheless testify of a contamination, causing an unpleasant odor of the hydrosol. It is then preferable not to use it and to throw it away.
Some hydrosols smell divine and can be incorporated into various cooking recipes to flavor preparations. In smoothies, cocktails, sorbets or fruit salads, hydrosols flavor and provide their benefits at the same time. They can also be added to vinaigrettes or dishes in sauce to take advantage of their digestive properties. In order to preserve all their properties, it is best to add them cold to the dishes, or to spray them just before serving. The cooking would risk to denature them, to make them lose flavour.
The most used hydrolats in cooking are Orange Blossom and Rose, especially in oriental pastries such as loukoums and gazelle horns. However, there are many others! Let your imagination run wild and let yourself be carried away by the delicate aromas of Basil, Savory or Verbena hydrosols to bring a little originality to your dishes.
Hydrosols are particularly flexible to use. They are not dangerous or nearly so, which is why they are highly valued and often recommended for sensitive users such as pregnant and nursing women, and babies. As a precautionary measure, however, and due to a lack of data on their composition, a few warnings are given for information and especially prevention:
It is recommended to be aware of all the potential risks of using a hydrosol before use.