THE GREEN GLOSSARY: What is a Hydrosol?

Hydrosols belong to the world of aromatherapy, and they are
also known as hydrolats, floral waters, and plant waters.

Hydrolate uses ‘hydro,’ “water,” and ‘late,’ from the French ‘lait,’ for “milk.” When a hydrolate first comes off the still, and often for some time afterward, it will be slightly milky, owing to the quantity and nature of the various plant substances and essential oils dissolved in the water.

‘Flower water’ isn’t an accurate definition because hydrosols do not come just from flowers any more than essential oils come only from flowers. Roots, bark, branches, wood, needles and leaves, even fruit and seeds can produce both oils and hydrosols.

Hydrosols are the condensate water coproduced during the steam- or hydro-distillation of plant material for aromatherapeutic purposes. Usually the distillation is undertaken is undertaken to obtain the essential oils contained in the plant material, but occasionally the distillation is undertaken specifically to produce the plant water that results.

Hydrosols contain all of the plant in every drop, just like a hologram. Here we have the water-soluble components, the essential-oil molecules, the very fluid that was flowing through the plant cells when the plant was collected. It’s all there in a matrix of water that is so much more than water, one of the most recognized holographic substances in healing.

Adapted from Hydrosols: The New Aromatherapy, by Suzanne Catty. Copyright (c) 2001 by Suzanne Catty. Reprinted by permission of Healing Arts Press.
Adapted from Hydrosols: The New Aromatherapy, by Suzanne Catty.

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Michele Wilkinson

Thank you