Essential oils are well known for their use in aromatherapy practice. However, hydrosols are rapidly rising in popularity too. There are several reasons why you might choose a hydrosol in place of an essential oil for aromatherapy– especially in use with some women's problems, and with babies and children.
What are hydrosols?
Hydrosols are the aromatic plant “waters” which used to be classed as the by-product of the distillation of essential oils. These days, hydrosols are considered of much, or even greater, value as essential oils for aromatherapy practice. Many plants which produce essential oils also produce hydrosols – but plants which don't produce essential oils may produce hydrosols too.
Hydrosols are reputed to possess therapeutic properties, just as essential oils do. However, a plant that produces both an essential oil and a hydrosol may pass on differing therapeutic properties to the essential oil and hydrosol. You need to check individual hydrosols for the therapeutic properties which they possess.
Why hydrosols are preferable to essential oils in some aromatherapy uses
Essential oils are highly potent and you usually only need to use a few drops of a particular essential oil. You should also remember to dilute essential oils in a carrier oil or base before applying to the skin. An essential oil bottle may last you a long time – but some of the more expensive essential oils (such as rose) require a large, initial investment.
Hydrosols, on the other hand, are very economically priced and are suited to smaller budgets. You don't necessarily have to “dilute” a hydrosol before use – because it is already “diluted” in the waters of its making. However, you can still add hydrosols to many skin care bases (in place of distilled water).
Hydrosols are generally more gentle in their actions. This makes many hydrosols suitable for use in pregnancy (except in the first trimester and in contra-indicated pregnancies), and with babies and children. Many hydrosols are great for skincare too – gentle on both baby's and mom's skin.
Examples of hydrosols for aromatherapy skin care include:
Always remember to check for specific contra-indications on individual use, before attempting to use hydrosols and essential oils.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Consult a qualified health practitioner for more advice.
Author is a trained and experienced aromatherapist
Price, Shirley, Price, Len, 2012, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK: Churchill Livingstone