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Hydrolats "Healing Waters"

So many people have asked me "what are these Hydrolats" you speak of and how are they made? You distill them? What does that mean? Well I have decided to go a little deeper into the explanation of what these "Healing Waters" are and how they are made.  So take a read through and enjoy!

Hydrolats, also known as hydrosols or floral water are a pure water-based product (often considered a byproduct when extracting essential oils) created in the process of steam or alembic distillation of plant material including but not limited to plants, resin, roots, seeds, flowers, leaves, grass and bark. Fragrant with the sweetest natural scents and loaded with skin, body and emotionally beneficial properties, Hydrolats are an excellent way to safely receive the therapeutic benefits and countless healing properties from plants. They are gentle and a wonderful alternative too, or used in conjunction with essential oils in aromatherapy.  

Pictured above: A small harvest of Altar of Roses Geranium getting ready to distill.

Hydrolats are created using a still. The first known still discovered is estimated to be over 6000 years old. These stills were originally designed by the ancient Greeks and were adopted, altered and perfected over time by Roman and Arab people and quickly gained popularity all over Europe.

Pictured above: Urban Country Organic's Alembic Copper Still with Hydrolat Blend Yoga Spray

So what is a still? A still is an apparatus used to extract essential oils and Hydrolats by steaming plant matter and capturing the steam (think of the aroma you can smell when steeping tea or cooking a delicious meal. Imagine capturing that essence. That is essentially what distillation does!) then cooling and condensing it back to liquid form. The idea is not to allow the steam to evaporate into the air.

First the plant matter is added to a steamer basket (or copper pot in antique alembic style stills where the material is boiled in the water instead of steamer basket) and then water is added and brought to a boil. The steam carried through the plant material contains a high concentration of chemical constituents, with the lowest boiling point from the plants. The steam then goes through a condenser where it is cooled and condensed back to a liquid which contains concentrated chemicals from the plant including essential oils and other nutrients and molecules. Since water and oil are not soluble, they naturally separate thus making it possible to easily remove most of the essential oil from the Hydrolat.  Stills are made of different materials including copper, glass, stainless steel and ceramic and are available in vastly different sizes depending on the needs and desired outcome of the operation.  

Take a look at this diagram for a visual of what the process looks like:

Diagram from lisaliseblog.com

Yielding any substantial amount of Hydrolat requires a lot of plant material. As a point of reference, to create Lemon Verbena Hydrolat, I harvested 12 small lemon verbena plants, approximately 350grams of leaves  and made a total of 900ml of Hydolat and approximately 1ml of essential oil (about 20 drops from a dropper bottle).

Pictured above: Lemon Verbena harvest 2022

As you can see, it requires a LOT of plant material to create a substantial amount of product. 

My process of distillation is one filled with patience, peace, love and gratitude. It takes several hours to produce just one litre of Hydrolat. Each drop is precious and filled with an array of properties with the ability to calm, heal and inspire. 

Pictured above: Sarah from Urban Country Organics getting started on a small batch of Hydrolats.

Using a beautiful alembic copper still, I create our Urban Country Organics Hydrolats. Every year I grow different herbs and plants which I distill and will continue to expand the variety Hydrolats each year. To date, I have distialled the following plants: Lemon Verbena, Altar of Roses Geranium, Lemon Geranium, Sage, Eucalyptus, Lemon Thyme, Lavender, Rosemary, Peppermint, Pine and Orange Peel. Once I have my Hydrolats, I bottle them as pure sprays or create a blend to bring even more beneficial properties to you. These sprays are incredibly gentle and can be used for a wide variety of products. 

Pictured above: Custom designed Hydrolat based Altar of Roses Oil-Free Makeup Remover for poshlashpro.com

Hydrolats have many uses and each specific Hydrolat will have its own unique therapeutic benefits. They contain different chemical constituents with various properties like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, decongestant, stimulating, cleansing, pain relief, hydrating, softening, soothing, toning, wound healing, antibacterial, aphrodisiac, sedative, calming, uplifting, anti-anxiety and the list goes on. You can see why I called this blog “Healing Waters!”. Hydrolats can be used topically, aromatically and some internally (though I don’t recommend ingesting them unless you consult with a medical professional).  

Pictured above: Collecting Hydrolat from the condenser at the end of the distillation process (a thin layer of essential oil floats on top).

Since Hydrolats are water based and pure with no preservatives (unless added in a blend), it is important to keep them fresh.  Their average shelf life is 12-24 months and will last longer when kept in a cool dark place (out of direct sunlight) or in a refrigerator.  

Pictured above, the bottling process.

At Urban Country Organics, we have a variety of products that contain our Hydrolats. Whether it’s in its purest form or combined with other plant-based natural ingredients, there is a use for everyone for all sorts of needs. You will find a description on our labels for what the spray is specifically designed for and how to use it however most of them are dynamic and multi-use. 

Here are some practical uses of Hydrolats:

  • Face and Body Sprays (for energizing, hydrating and uplifting)
  • Facial Toners
  • Cleansers
  • Make-up remover
  • Surface Sprays
  • Cooling Spray
  • Sun-burn relief
  • Bug-bite relief
  • Headache relief (specifically peppermint)
  • Energy boosting
  • Decongestant 
  • Aromatic Bath tonics
  • Calming (anti-anxiety)
  • Room Spray 
  • Linen Spray
  • Hair Care
  • Yoga Spray
  • Surface Spray
  • Meditation Spray
  • Diaper Rash relief
  • You can even diffuse them!

These are pretty amazing "Healing Waters" aren't they!?  When you decide to use a Hydrolat in your daily routine, whether on your skin or simply in your space, you are making a safe, natural and healthy decision. If you are like me and aim to avoid synthetic chemical laden products, but love love love fresh scents, Hydrolats are the way to go. They are good for your skin, you can liberally breathe them in and benefit from all of their therapeutic properties. The next time you need a boost of energy, go ahead, spray yourself with our Lemon Geranium Hydrolat. If you feel congested and sick, spray the air and yourself with Eucalyptus or Peppermint.  Why not add our Rose & Lavender facial toner into your daily regimen of cleaning and toning your face? Maybe prepare your space and wipe down your yoga mat with a fragrant and cleansing Hydrolat yoga spray? Or wipe the day away with an oil-free makeup remover?

 

Hydrolats are still not very well known but they are mighty! I am sure, over the next few years, as people learn more about them and lean towards natural alternatives to skincare, mental health and wellness, they will become top of the list for products to use for all walks of life.  So spread the word about Hydrolats, and hey, why not give them a try!?

Thanks for reading!!

Sarah xox