I love hydrosols. I use them more often than essential oils nowadays and I love distilling plants from my garden to gather their hydrosols. A few batches of fresh distillate each year give me more than enough hydrosol to stock my apothecary for the season. Do you like to use hydrosols too? Are you still learning about how you can use them?
Let’s look at 10 really simple ways that you can incorporate hydrosols into your routine for their therapeutic benefits this year.
P.S. Want to learn how to make your own hydrosols at home? I’ll teach you several ways to distill them with or without a still or fancy equipment (and with or without a large garden space) in our Herbal Aromatherapy™ Certification Program. It’s opening for enrollment soon. You can find more details here.
Add them to bathwater
Whether you’re making a simple hand or foot bath to help you with your headache or to help you de-stress after a long work day or you’re filling up the whole tub for a good soak, adding a bit of hydrosol to the water can help enhance the therapeutic effects of your bath. Experiment with different hydrosols to see how they affect you. If you’re wanting to calm down and relax before bed, try some chamomile or lavender hydrosol in the bathwater. If you want to soothe sore muscles, try rosemary hydrosol combined with lavender.
Hydrosols can be mixed with herbal bath teas or added directly to the bathwater. If you’re doing a hand or foot bath, a quick splash will be plenty. If you’re planning a full bath, try using up to a cup of hydrosol. If you’re making your own hydrosols with plants from your garden, even using hydrosols in the bath occasionally can be economical and very effective for helping you to feel more relaxed!
Use them in lotions and creams
I love to use hydrosols in place of distilled water in lotion and cream recipes. Try experimenting with a hydrosol that will complement the overall purpose of the cream. Are you making a lotion to help soothe your back pain? Try adding some douglas fir hydrosol or St. John’s wort hydrosol to the recipe. Are you making a luscious face cream? Incorporate some rose or orange blossom hydrosol into your recipe.
Add them to herbal or aromatherapy steams
Add a teaspoon of hydrosol to your steam applications to add another layer of benefits to your formula. Whether you’re using herbs or essential oil to do your steam, adding a splash of complementary hydrosol can help enhance the overall effect of the steam and deliver some additional constituents to your respiratory system quickly.
Add a teaspoon to your herbal tea
Some hydrosols are appropriate for internal use and can be quite lovely added to herbal tea or other drinks. Do you like hot chocolate? A splash of peppermint hydrosol can take it to the next level! A dash of fennel or tulsi hydrosol can make chai tea lattes taste lovely. Chamomile hydrosol can also be nice when added to other herbal teas or even on its own.
Unlike essential oils, hydrosols are safe to ingest in water as long as the hydrosol is pure, with no additives, and is safe for ingestion (some plants/species are not appropriate for ingestion).
Add a tablespoon to your desserts...
Hydrosols don’t always have to be exclusively medicinal. Sometimes they can be used just because they taste good and the therapeutic effects are an added bonus! Try adding a bit of rose hydrosol to your fav ice cream or popsicle recipe. A sprinkle of lavender hydrosol in sorbet or lemonade…There are many ways to use hydrosols in food to add flavor and therapeutic benefits.
Using hydrosols internally in food and drinks is definitely a treat – not an every day type thing. Remember, it takes a lot of plant material to make hydrosols too! If you can use the herb itself instead of the hydrosol, do so.
Use them as a facial toner
I stopped using commercially prepared facial toners years ago. They didn’t seem to be doing much for me, no matter which brand I tried or how much money I spent on them. When I started using hydrosols in my skincare regimen, I saw an improvement in my skin. Hydrosols help to restore our skin’s natural pH after cleansing and, when followed up with a good moisturizer or face oil, can help seal in moisture and soothe the skin. They also smell lovely and make wonderful body splashes! Spritz a bit on your hairbrush to make your hair smell wonderful all day. I spray some on my neck and décolletage and I can often still smell it on my skin when I’m getting ready for bed in the evenings.
Add them to poultices and compresses
Hydrosols can be used on their own (as a wash) and applied via compresses or they can be mixed with other herbal preparations in all kinds of poultices and compresses. Yarrow, lavender, St. John’s wort, and peppermint hydrosols are all wonderful for wounds and injuries and contain constituents that can help reduce pain and swelling. Helichrysum hydrosol can be especially nice if the skin has been compromised. I like to combine hydrosols with herbs, tinctures and sometimes essential oils to formulate really effective poultices and compresses. You can learn about the differences between poultices and compresses and learn how to make them here.
Use them in spritzers to help you energetically
While they do smell nice, hydrosol spritzers are far more than just room sprays meant to make the room smell nice (though you can use them that way). If chosen well, they can help you to calm your mind, de-stress, or re-energize yourself throughout the day. Think about the energetic, mental, emotional effects of the hydrosol you’re working with and then try to think about how you can use those effects to your advantage throughout the day. Blend up a few hydrosols in a spritzer and use it regularly to see if it makes a difference for you. I like to keep a bottle of sweetgrass hydrosol by my desk so I can reset my mind when I start to feel a bit boggy after a session of intense writing. It works like a charm! Lavender + rose + chamomile hydrosols make a great combination to spray around the room while I’m getting ready for bed.
Diffusers aren’t just for essential oils. If you’re using an ultrasonic diffuser (the kind that has a chamber for water), you can add a splash of hydrosol to the reservoir and diffuse that instead. I especially like this option for littles. While an essential oil might be too strong, diffusing a touch of hydrosol can be just as effective, but much more gentle for little systems. They’re also really nice for scenting the room without overwhelming the olfactory and nervous systems since they’re far less concentrated than essential oils.
Add them to herbal syrups
Remember how I like to substitute hydrosols for water-based ingredients in creams and lotions? I like to do it in herbal preparations too. Syrups are one of my favorites. Add a tablespoon or two to your decoction liquid before adding your sugar to layer in even more therapeutic effects.
What is your favorite thing to do with hydrosols? Have you ever made one at home yourself? Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!