Below are answers to some common questions about my hydrosols. If you have a question or concern not addressed here, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can and may add your question (and our answer) to the FAQ. Thanks!
What is a hydrosol?
Known by many names including floral waters, plant waters, hydrolates, and hydrolats, hydrosols are produced by distilling an array of plant materials -- from seed to root and everything in between using a still. Distillation transforms fresh plant material into a therapeutic water that captures phytochemicals, antioxidants, plant acids, and oils. It is stronger, perhaps more complex than an herbal infusion (tisane), but much gentler than an essential oil, making it safe to spray directly onto skin without further dilution. Each hydrosol carries its own unique benefits to the skin (and beyond) that can include: nourishment, hydration, restoration and soothing, anti-inflammatory and/or anti-bacterial properties, and much, much more.
All of my hydrosols are slow-distilled in very small batches using a hand-forged copper alembic that looks something like a relic from the past. And in fact, it is! While my still was handmade less than a decade ago, its design dates back to ancient times!
What's the difference between a hydrosol and an essential oil?
Technically, both hydrosols and essential oils are produced via the process of distillation. However, in essential oil production, the oils and water are separated and sold separately. Many commercial hydrosols on the market are just the leftover water or byproduct of this process. In the case of my hydrosols, I bottle the whole product, the oil and water are never separated.
There are other differences as well. What makes a good essential oil doesn't necessarily make a good hydrosol. Essential oil production tends to be a much hotter and faster distillation. My hydrosols are produced at very low temperatures, at an extremely slow pace, coming out drip-by-drip rather than in a stream. I believe that this slower, gentler process coaxes out plant constituents that would be lost otherwise, producing a more balanced product. When the plant material is harvested and the parts used is also a consideration that differs. For these reasons, hydrosols that are distilled with the focus on producing a balanced, gentle, whole hydrosol are superior to those that are made as a byproduct.
How do I use hydrosols?
Usage varies depending on the therapeutic qualities of the individual plants. Suggested uses of individual hydrosols are listed on their product page.
Are your hydrosols organic?
Yes, always yes. I am very committed to producing exceptionally good hydrosols and am fastidious about how the plants are grown and where they come from. Some plant materials have been sourced from certified organic farms. However, some are from smaller producers or my own garden, which are too small to afford organic certification. However, they are all being produced organically, or, when it comes to my own garden, "moreganic" in the sense that I don't use any sprays or products whatsoever, even the "safe" stuff that qualifies under organic practices.
Are hydrosols gluten free?
Yes, and I take great pains to package them using dedicated tools that have not touched glutinous products (or nuts).
Do you use preservatives?
No, my hydrosols do not have added preservatives. As a result, they do have a shorter shelf life. I keep all of my hydrosols refrigerated from the moment they are made until the moment they are packaged to ship. I have also indicated the month and year of distillation on every bottle so you know how fresh it is. You can increase the longevity of your hydrosol by storing the bottle in the fridge or in a cool, dark cupboard away from heat and light. Many hydrosols will last 1-2 years in a fridge. Hydrosols kept on the shelf, or in a car or bag should be used within six months of purchase. Monitor for fungal growth with your nose and eyes. I've packaged most of my hydrosols in clear, glass bottles so that you can see whether any growth has occurred.
Are there any hidden ingredients?
No. Every ingredient contained is listed on the product page and packaging.
Are your bottles made of glass?
Yes, all sizes of bottles -- even the smallest ones -- are made of glass. Of course, the spray tops and hoses are plastic. They are also refillable, allowing you to clean and repurpose them for further use once the hydrosol is used up.
How strong do hydrosols smell and how long does the smell last?
This is a tricky question to answer because it varies depending on the plant and your sense of smell. Most hydrosols smell as you would expect based on the plant material that produced them. Resinous plants such as lavender and rosemary produce a strong fragrance that is not as an intense as an essential oil diluted by a carrier oil, but stronger than a cup of herbal tea. However, some highly fragrant flowers such as peony and lilac produce unexpectedly light hydrosols that may not remind you of the blooms in your garden. A lack of fragrance does not mean a poorer product -- some of the most subtle hydrosols are the most supportive!
Many hydrosols are robust enough to use as a gentle perfume that is not overwhelming or lingering -- I find that they do not offend those (like me) who are particularly sensitive to strong smells. I've never found myself in the position of over-doing it with a hydrosol, whereas that has certainly occurred with essential oils.
Do you use synthetic fragrances in your hydrosols?
No way! These are all the real deal, 100% steam distilled plant blossoms, leaves, or roots.
Are your hydrosols water mixed with essential oils?
No way. there are many products marked as hydrosols on the market that are produced in this manner. Mine are not. They are all 100% steam distilled plant matter.
Can hydrosols cause an allergic reaction?
Yes. While they are 100% natural, any plant material, even the safest, edible ones, can cause reactions in some people. For that reason I recommend doing a patch test somewhere that is not on your face before diving into using a hydrosol.
Which hydrosol is your favourite?
That's a hard question to answer since it seems that my favourite is the one I'm using in the moment! It really comes down to the individual since even in polling those who have tried them, answers vary wildly.
Are your hydrosols safe to use during pregnancy?
Unless otherwise indicated, I stick with safe, well-known plants. While there are trace amounts of naturally occurring essential oils in my hydrosols that are extracted in the distillation process, hydrosols are significantly less potent than their essential oil counterparts. That said, White Cedar is the oiliest and most intensely-scented of the hydrosols I produce and may contain micro amounts of thujone. If you want to be extra cautious you may consider avoiding use of it during pregnancy.
Can I apply hydrosols directly to my skin?
Yes. Hydrosols are much less concentrated than essential oil, even essential oils that have been diluted by a carrier oil. They contain water soluble constituents that are not present in essential oils. For this reason as well as differences in the distillation process, I find them to be a more balanced, subtler product.
That said, there is one hydrosol in my line-up (white cedar) that I advise against using on the skin. I find it to contain a higher percentage of oils and to be much more potent than the others. While there are others who would disagree with me, I have sensitive skin and am sensitive to scent and use these sensitivities as the default in terms of how I approach usage.