When we distill a plant, we obtain two highly purified products from the passing of the steam: essential oil and hydrosol. Hydrosols have exactly the same properties as essential oils, though in less concentrated form. In contrast, the production yield of hydrosols by distillation is higher than with essential oils. It could be said that the proportion is that of 1000 milliliters of hydrosol for every single milliliter of essential oil.
What does this all mean? Basically, that the hydrosol―a sub-product of the distillation of essential oils―is of very high quality and produces an even higher output.
In industrial productions, the hydrosol tends to be reused for the distillation process, improving the effectivity of the plant to be distilled, afterwards being thrown away, as hydrosols are produced in great quantity. However, in our case it would be foolish to not take full advantage of it. Not only as a component of our perfumes, but as a product with a value of its own.
María, the herbalist from Viladasens who gave me my first lessons about plants and distillations, is enthused by the properties of hydrosols. In fact, for her, the essential oils are the real by-product, which she uses in fabricating creams and other natural cosmetics. Her star products are hydrosols, which she blends into various combinations in function of their utility. She knows many such uses, such as these:
-As facial and hair tonics. Hydrosols have a very similar PH to our skin, which is why they are ideal for children, people with sensitive and delicate skin, and those tending to have irregularities or suffer from irritation. They relax the skin and in general contribute to a balanced blood flow. They can be used as facial tonics on clean skin before going to sleep, or to revive the skin’s freshness after sun-tanning, or just to let it shine. They are also perfect for reviving a tired scalp and tonifying the hair. Hydrosols prevent hair loss, excess hair thickness, and dandruff, as they help to balance out the PH of our scalp.
-For frictions and massages. They can be used to massage or rub the body to improve blood flow, relax the muscles, or prevent varicose veins.
-As a mouth wash. There are ideal hydrosols to fight against bad breath and against the bacteria in plaque.