Thursday, August 29, 2013

Do-It-Yourself Hydrosols - Making and Using Flower Waters for Community Health and Self-Care


Herbal Hydrosols (aka Flower Water) 

The process of distilling volatile oils out of herbs and flower in order to make essential oils creates hydrosols, or flower water.  This can be done in fancy copper stills, or we can use supplies that most us already have, or can borrow from friends/family/neighbors, to make our own simple setup.  Hydrosols can be used in homemade herbal concoctions - from cosmetic to medicinal - as well as in community health settings.  We don’t need to buy Rosewater, Lavender Water, or Orange Blossom Water, which may contain sketchy fragrances and pesticides, be produced by companies that treat their workers unjustly or that harm the planet in their harvesting and overall business practices, etc.  We can make our own hydrosols!    

A note on essential oils:  Many recipes for do-it-yourself Rosewater, Lavender water, and other hydrosols/sprays contain essential oils.  Even organic, 100% pure essential oils can be harvested in unethical ways, may deplete a community's resources of a particular (medicinal) plant, and have other negative impacts that are difficult to know about due to the long chain and many middle-(hu)mans from harvest through production and sale.  By capturing the volatile oils directly from the plants which we can harvest ourselves, we can feel more empowered and a part of the process, using plants that grow locally and abundantly, and being able to ensure that the plants (and people!) involved are treated with respect. 



Uses for Hydrosols (aka Flower Water) 

*I have included homemade 
Lavender and/or Rose water in my Street Medic kit to use as a cooling spray at marches, rallies, and other events on sunny days.  It’s also great after-care for hot days out in the garden, working in the fields, and at the beach, as well as for hot flashes.  You can add Lavender essential oil to this for its calming effect, as well as flower essences.  I like to add Yarrow flower essence for energetic protection and clear boundaries, especially if this spray is going to be used at events that are potentially triggering and overwhelming, or if there's simply a large group of people and all their energy. Corn flower essence is also grounding for these situations.  

(I've also carried sunscreen and water in a sports bottle - so it can be squeezed directly into folks' mouths without getting germs on the container - in my Street Medic fanny pack to prevent overheating and protect from the sun.  Prevention is best.  Hydrosols aren't going to prevent a sunburn, but can provide soothing, cooling relief to overheated skin after the fact.  More here: Arnica drops and Lavender Spray: Creating Herbal/Emotional Support at Marches and Demonstrations.)

*If you’ve got a sunburn, you can mix the Lavender and/or Rose water with Aloe juice or gel and/or Lavender essential oil.  I use real aloe that needs to be refrigerated, not the ‘100%’ aloe that often contains sketchy preservatives and colorings.  This is how I make Sunburn Soother.

*You can use homemade hydrosols in recipes that call for distilled water.  I personally don’t want to give a cent to water-commodifying multinational corporations like Poland Springs/Nestle, and I definitely don't want to use their water in the remedies that I make for my loved ones, my communities, and myself.  By making our own flower water, we encourage self/community-sufficiency and we are also capturing some of the healing properties and fragrance of the plants.

I add Lavender and/or Rose water to: Rose Relaxation Bath Fizzies (bath fizzy recipe in The People’s Spa: Reclaiming Relaxation and Cultivating Collective-Care), Honey Rose Facial Cleanser, or use straight as a facial toner or body spray.  Hydrosols of soothing, gentle plants can be used in place of distilled water in recipes to make your own baby wipes as well.

*Hydrosols can be used as a spray to help cleanse and move energy in the home*space, workplace, gathering spot, and other collective areas.  This can be a great way to bring in the healing, moving qualities of plants, especially when you aren't able to burn copal or other resins, herbs, or incense sticks.  Also, it leaves less of a scent for those with sensitivities.

*You can use your homemade hydrosols as a natural alternative to sprays with toxic ingredients to use in the home:  room spray, bathroom air freshener, linen spray, and whatever area needs some freshening up, such as the car.  Even "natural" store-bought sprays may contain sketchy fragrances and other chemicals.  

*You can create a bedtime hydrosol spray with relaxing herbs to help unwind before sleeping and/or have more vivid dreams and remember them.

*You can use Rose water to soothe pink eye so that you don't have to touch your eyes and possibly share your germs (transmitting it to the other eye if it's only in one, or to another person).  Simply close your eyes and mist them with rose water kept in a spray bottle.  (I've also used moist chamomile tea bags and yarrow compresses for pink eye/conjunctivitis)

*Use as freshening up spray for when traveling, camping, or have other limited access to regular bathing.  This is part of community health because if we're so ripe that other folks don't want to be close to us, it makes collaboration difficult, right?!

*If you have a plant ally that's aromatic, making a hydrosol is another way to connect with the plant.  If there's a plant you're drawn to, a particular one that's caught your attention that you want to learn more from and share time with, making a hydrosol is one of the many ways you can get to know the plant and make medicine with it.  (You can also just sit with the plant, listen to it, notice it, take photos of it, see who else is enjoying it/pollinating it, draw it, taste it (if it's not toxic), sleep by it, etc).  By making a hydrosol, you can capture the plant's vital energy and scent, and preserve it to have with you throughout the year.

*Making hydrosols is a great way to use aromatic plants that you're cutting back in the autumn and/or if you have fragrant plants that are still very vital, but maybe a bit chewed up by bugs or turning yellow, etc.   If you've harvested what you'd like for tinctures, teas, infused oils, etc., and the plants still have a lot of life left, you can use them to create a hydrosol.


Directions for Making Hydrosols (aka Flower Water) 
Thank you to Kami McBride's Healing Power of Aroma.

1. Put a large enamel or stainless steel pot on the stove and put a clean brick or flat stone in the bottom of the pot.

2. Pour enough water into the pot so that the water comes to just below the top of the brick or rock, but you don't want to completely submerge the brick in the water.


3. Add six handfuls of fresh aromatic herbs, or 3 handfuls of dried aromatic herbs, to the water. You can use one single herb or a blend of several. Some aromatic herbs that you can make hydrosols from are: Lavender stem, leaf and flower, Rose petals, White Pine needle, and the leaf and flower of: Tulsi (Holy Basil/Sacred Basil), Lemon Balm, Peppermint, and Catnip. All of these plants can be used in either fresh or dried form. 


4. Put a stainless steel metal bowl or glass Pyrex measuring cup on top of the brick inside the pot.


5. Put the lid on the pot upside downward so that the top of the lid is pointing down into the inside of the pot.  This part is important.  


6. Fill the top of the inverted lid with ice cubes.  You can also make one large ice cube by freezing water in a yogurt or other plastic container.  This larger ice cube melts much slower than many smaller ones.



7. Turn the heat on and once the water has reached a gentle simmer, turn it to low for 20-30 minutes.  The steam that rises to the top of pot and meets the icy-cold lid contains the essential oils of the plant.  It condenses and drips down into the bowl and that's your hydrosol/flower water!  Be sure to keep the heat down - you want the water to be hot enough to create steam, but you don't want it to boil and get plant matter and un-distilled water into your bowl.  
Be sure that lid is on straight too, so that steam (and those good volatile oils) aren’t escaping.


8.  Carefully remove the lid once it's filled with the melted ice and dump that water into the sink, or pour it into another container to cool and then use water your plants, etc.  Take care not to let the melted ice water drip into the bowl.  Replace the lid right away so as not to lose too much of the medicinal properties and fragrance in the steam and the hydrosol/flower water that you've created.

9.  If you feel like the plants still have more essential oils to give, you can put the lid back on (upside down!) and add more ice to continue to the distillation process.  Listen to your intuition - I like to feel like I'm getting all the vital oils from the plant, but I also don't want to dilute the hydrosol by adding steam after the plant has given all its volatile oils.

10.  Once your hydrsol is finished, remove from heat.  Pour the liquid from the metal bowl into a sterilized mason jar or a spray bottle. You now have an herbal hydrosol!
I like to let the hydrosol cool to room temperature with the lid on before pouring it into containers, especially if pouring it into plastic.




_______________________________________________

Notes:  


Your herbal hydrosol will ideally be stable for six months to one year.   I like to keep mine in the refrigerator.  This helps them keep longer and makes them especially refreshing to spray on in hot weather.  If you have Rose and/or Lavender water, keeping it in the fridge will make it even more cooling if you're using it to cool hot/sunburned skin, hot flashes, and other hot skin conditions.  Also, the cleaner that everything you're using is, the less likely it is that bacterial will enter, causing your hydrosol to go off.  So if possible, sterilize or wash well your pot, bowl, and what you're pouring your finished hydrosol into.

In general, you use more of an herb when it is fresh than when it is dried, as the moisture has evaporated out of dried herbs, making it more potent.  If you have less or more of the herbs than what's listed above, use what you've got!  There's no need to pack in tons of herbs, but if you have an abundance, feel free to add more.  Likewise, if you have just a wee bit of a special plant, go ahead and use what you've got.  It may be weaker than if you had more, but it will still capture some of the scent and medicine.

When making a hydrosol, it’s good to have lots of ice on hand.  I like to fill a large freezer bag filled with a few batches of ice cubes so I have plenty on hand.  Or make a larger one as written above.

You don't need to go get a special hydrosol-making pot.  You can use a large canning/lobster pot.  Be sure to clean everything well so that you’re capturing the scent and properties of the plants you’re using, rather than the chili/tamales/lobster that have been cooked in the pot!

Large ice cube made in a yogurt container on top of inverted lid, 
while making fresh Catnip hydrosol using a glass Pyrex measuring cup.

(Post updated 10/19/15 and 9/30/16)

59 comments:

  1. thanks for this! could the inside bowl be glass instead of metal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! As long as it's heat-proof. The last time I made a hydrosol I couldn't find the metal bowl I normally use, so I used a glass Pyrex measuring cup and it worked great! And one less thing to wash as I always had poured the hydrosol from the metal bowl into a measuring cup for easy pourability. Just be sure to use an ovenmitt or towel to grip the measuring cup or bowl so as not to get burnt!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing! I cant wait to try it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it! And I hope you experiment and make some fabulous hydrosols!

      Delete
  3. Is it a dumb question to ask why I have to distill the hydrosol? Can't I just boil the flowers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are no dumb questions! A tea will go bad with days or hours, depending on the herb. A hydrosol distills out the aromatic oils and lasts much longer than a tea or decoction (see Mike's reply below). Thanks!

      Delete
  4. Boiling the flowers for a little while makes a tea, for a long time makes a decoction. A hydrosol is something a little bit different. They are close, but not the same. They have different characteristics & properties.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If I wanted to make an orange hydrosol, could I use peels?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! That sounds amazing! I haven't made a hydrosol with (organic) citrus peels, but maybe I'll start freezing or drying them til I have enoughto make a hydrosol!

      Delete
  6. Hi - I love this method and have used it a few times now to make lavender tonic for my face. For this use, I'm wondering if it's necessary to buy organic dried flowers. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use organic/unsprayed herbs. They do cost more, money-wise, if you are buying them instead of harvesting them yourself, but it's better for the environment, for the folks working the fields, harvesting, and processing the herbs, and for your herby creations.

      Delete
    2. Also, what you spray on your skin goes into your body. Why wouldn't you use organic?

      Delete
  7. Love this. Shared it on my Pinterest and reblogged it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for sharing! Glad you enjoyed it.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for sharing this. How long do I simmer for? It has been an hour and I only have about 1/2 cup hydrosol . I use 20 tablespoon of dry lavender buds.
    Thank you
    Claudia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just follow my intuition as to amount of herb and length of time to simmer it for. I don't have a set time really. I've read 20 minutes, but definitely do more like 40-60 minutes. I usually end up with around 8-10 ounces of hydrosol. Perhaps you could use less herb or simmer longer? Good luck!

      Delete
  9. Thank you for sharing. I wanted to add a tip for the process please...I used a turkey baster to remove the water from the lid before adding more ice. This way I didn't lose any of the precious hydrosol by removing the lid.
    Thanks again for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm unclear as to the position of the lid. Does the lid go on the bowl or pot?

    ReplyDelete
  11. It goes on the pot.. not the bowl. Turn the lid upside down on the pot :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I made a lavender hydrosol, very aromatic, but molded after 3 weeks. What could I have done wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, glad your lavender hydrosol came out well. Sorry to hear it went off. I would make sure that the pot, bowl, and container are all sterlized or washed really well. And you could also keep your hydrosol in the refrigerator. Good luck!

      Delete
  13. Did you sterilize everything you used to make your hydrosol?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, I do not have a stone at home. I was wondering if you need a floating devise on the water. Can I just put a glass bowl in the water? If not, I have a peice of bamboo that goes on a canister. If I sanitize it would that be suffice? And when you say sanitize do you mean boil in hot water?

    ReplyDelete
  15. I also have a glass pie pan. Will that work?

    ReplyDelete
  16. After I reread and did other research, it looks like you're saying the brick should fit at the bottom of the pan, not floating on it (haha, I did think that was odd). So the higher the stone or brick the more hydrosol you can accumulate. I guess I will have to force myself to take a trip to a hardware store! And I am supposed to hard boil everything to sanitize it?

    ReplyDelete
  17. I used the sweet woodruff for an air fresher spray, fresh leaves. Sweet but weak.. this year I will dry them first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did the same, will try with dried also.

      Delete
  18. Thank you so much for this tutorial. A recipe had called for Rose Water Essential Hydrosol but I could not locate it in any store. Happy to know I an now make my own.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi there!
    I ran across your article just now (excellent read, VERY informative) and I am getting ready to possibly create and possibly sell Hydrosols on Etsy to help make a bit of extra money while I go to school. I have a question regarding something sort of silly - color. I have seen only Rose Water, and the fluid itself is clear. And as a gift from my mom, she got me a bottle of locally made Jojoba essential oil, which is a lovely amber-orange color.
    Would a few drops of Jojoba oil make a good addition to Hyrdrosols? And would its color pass on well to the floral water? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would recommend experimenting with hydrosols before selling them. Especially to see how long they last so that you can let your customers know the expiration date. I have never seen a Jojoba essential oil. Is it a Rose or other essential oil diluted in Jojoba oil? This is common for the especially precious/expensive essential oils. In my experience the essential oils carried in Jojoba oil do not integrate into the water. But you could shake it up. I have never had an essential oil affect the color of a hydrosol. As they are oils, they stay separate from the water unless you possibly add other ingredients. Or you can just shake it each time before using. Good luck!

      Delete
  20. Very good article thank you for sharing!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am going to try this to make some Lotus Hydrosol!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Enjoying my second batch of lemon balm hydrosol thanks to you. Followed your instructions to the letter and it works great. Incidentally, I live in Colorado and it is very dry here so I use the hydrosol as a facial spritz any time my skin is feeling parched, thank you so much for sharing!! -Deb

    ReplyDelete
  23. Glad that folks found this info helpful and love hearing about hydrosol adventures!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is such a great technique! And as this isn't using any additional oils, I presume I could put this flower water in drinks to add flavour and offer floral notes/medicinal benefits of the herbs used? Or would that not be advised?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hey how much water does 3 handful of herbs make?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Fun post! I'm looking forward to experimenting w this!!! Suzanne Catty in Hydrosols says it takes several weeks for a hydro late to stabilize. Any thoughts on how to know when it's ready to use? I just purchased a fresh batch of frankincense hydrolate from a distiller and I'm wondering if resins from hydro distillation require any length of wait time until it's used?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Another informative blog… Thank you for sharing it… Best of luck for further endeavor too.
    Rated #1 Herbal Incense Super Store - LegalAromaTherapy.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is a good common sense Blog. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.
    Herbal Potpourri

    ReplyDelete
  29. I just wanted to add a comment to mention thanks for your post. This post is really interesting and quite helpful for us. Keep sharing.
    Rated Top Herbal Incense Potpourri - legalherbalspice.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Premature Ejaculation and Herbal Medicines?
    herbs learning

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you for sharing your hydrosol recipe. I'm very exited to try this with the large bags of dried chamomile and calandula flowers that I have, and haven't used very much of it up. I'm also thinking of getting some lavender flowers to toss into this healing mix as well.

    I have a question concerning the ingredients, specifically, the source of water for the hydrosol. I'm all for avoiding the bottled "spring" water, but I would assume that tap water in some locales would not be preferred due to the high presence of chlorine and other disinfectant chemicals found in tap water. I would therefore think that distilled water would be better then tap water, as fetching fresh, from the source, spring water is not feasible for most people. Though, I do live in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and can find sources of spring water with a little effort.

    What are your suggestions or thoughts on this topic of tap water?

    Thanks,
    Flavia

    ReplyDelete
  32. I just made a few hydrosols on 11/4/16, and when I took them out of the fridge to make soap, I noticed that both my roman chamomile and german chamomile hydrosol has a few white specs floating at the bottom of the bottle. I used completely sterile pans, distilled water, and plant material I grew and harvested myself. They are in 4 ounce glass ball jars, with no headspace. It's been about 2 weeks that they have been in the fridge. Are the little white specs a "bloom" (its gone bad/moldy?) Or is it just small fragments of plant material that entered the steam and hydrosol? Please help! Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  33. What a fantabulous post this has been. Never seen this kind of useful post. I am grateful to you and expect more number of posts like these. Thank you very much.
    Rated #1 Herbal Incense Super Store - LegalAromaTherapy.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. I found very informative blog when I was reading this. I was searching this kind of information since a long time. Thank you for sharing it.
    Herbal Potpourri

    ReplyDelete
  35. Wow, absolutely fantastic blog. I am very glad to have such useful information. Thanks.
    Welcome to Super Strong Incense - SuperStrongIncense.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. Anything containing water intended for keep without preservative would readily go bad. It might take as long as 2 weeks or longer for specs to show but the spoilage would have begun by the 5th day at most.
    It is more responsible to preserve a hydrous product than to not. Do not sell the product until you've gained some mastery of this.
    Contact your supplier to know what might be the best choice of preservative fir a hydrosol as well as its suggested use rate.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Great work. Truly speaking I never seen a blog like that. Absolutely superb work. Good luck. Thanks for such an informative post. legal potpourri

    ReplyDelete
  38. This is wonderful. I am not quite much with the internet, but I believe that what I just read is some good material. Thanks for writing such wonderful article. God bless.
    buy herbal incense online

    ReplyDelete
  39. Could I use Vitamin E Oil as a preservative to maybe make the hydrosol to last longer?

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hello Everyone out there,I am here to give my testimony about a Herbalist called Dr CAMALA, who helped me in my life. I was infected with HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS 2 in 2010, i went to many hospitals for cure but there was no solution, so I was thinking how can I get a solution out so that my body can be okay. One day I was in the river side thinking where I can go to get solution. so a lady walked to me telling me why am I so sad and i open up all to her telling her my problem, she told me that she can help me out, she introduce me to a doctor who uses herbal medication to cure HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS 2 and gave me his email, so i mail him. He told me all the things I need to do and also give me instructions to take, which I followed properly. Before I knew what is happening after two weeks the HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS that was in my body got vanished . so if you are also heart broken and also need a help, you can also email him via; dr.camalahivaidscure@yahoo.com or watsapp him +2349055637784

    ReplyDelete
  41. Wow, absolutely fantastic blog. I am very glad to have such useful information. Thanks. Fashion Clothing

    ReplyDelete
  42. I was haven herpes 2 on my private part. I have had them for about 2 and a bit years. I am so scared what my mates are going to says if there should fined out i have herpes on my private part and due to the virus my girlfriend broke up with me. I have been to the Doctors 9 times to get it treated. They all come back. I have been using Tee Tree Oil and Wartner (You freeze them at home) and they seem to be keeping the smaller herpes small but they can't seem to treat the larger ones. They don't get any bigger, but then they can't shrink as much. They get smaller a little part at a time. At least they are getting smaller! As soon as I see a new herpes appearing, then I treat it. At the moment I have been using Tee Tree twice a week and then using Wartner every 2 weeks. I was wondering if there was any other information about how to get rid of it. I am only a teenager and I hate it most when it get pi-chins me to scratch it, it get sweets when scratching it most times! I want to get rid of it so bad! DR.OBA website has been a huge help and has helped me realize a lot more about me and my family of genital herpes! so that was when i switch for natural remedy to see if there could be any help by herbal remedy, i search and i saw a great posts by Sarah devise adebayo ehijactor and shanttel Merritt on about the great herbal doctor that get them rid of there disease infection. and this great herbal doctor was called DR.OBA so that was when i contacted him for my own treatment and he prepared me some herbs which i takes for some couples of days, and i take it as he says before i am to no me and my family was perfectly cure for it and never experience it again. please friends if you have herpes virus and you really wants to get rid of it, please contact this great DR.OBA for herbal treatment and you will get rid of it. EMAIL. drobaspellhome902@gmail.com

    cell phone contact +2348154692747
    his whatsapp contact is +2348154692747


    THANK TO YOU ALL FOR YOUR TIME OF READY MY TESTIMONY AND MOST ESPECIALLY YOU DR. OBA I PRAY TO GOD TO NEVER LET ME AND MY FAMILY FORGET YOU IN OUR LIFE'S

    ReplyDelete
  43. I have been suffering from (HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS) disease for the past two years and had constant pain, especially in my knees. During the first year,I had faith in God that i would be healed someday.This disease started circulating all over my body and i have been taking treatment from my doctor, few weeks ago i came on search on the internet if i could get any information concerning the prevention of this disease, on my search i saw a testimony of someone who has been healed from (HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS) by this Man Dr Ero and she also gave the email address: dreroherbaltreatment@gmail.com of this man and advise we should contact him for any sickness that he would be of help, so i wrote to Dr. Ero telling him about my (HERPES Virus) he told me not to worry that i was going to be cured!! hmm i never believed it,, well after all the procedures and remedy given to me by this man few weeks later i started experiencing changes all over me as the Dr Ero assured me that i have cured,after some time i went to my doctor to confirmed if i have be finally healed behold it was TRUE, So friends my advise is if you have such sickness or any other at all you can email:: dreroherbaltreatment@gmail.com.

    ReplyDelete