This post was written by Cortney Herrera, Founder of Wildcare, for Wildcare's website.
What is a Hydrosol?
Hydrosols, also referred to as distillates, hydrolats, or floral waters, are the subtle and often aromatic waters resulting from slowly distilled plant material.
The Distillation Process
For our size of still, the actual method of performing our distillations has about a 5-8 hour duration depending on the plant utilized, a much slower process compared to more commercialized modes of skin care production. We do both steam-distillation (the plant is held above the water) and hydro-distillation (the plant is submerged in the water) depending on what suits the botanical best.
First, the still which is holding the freshly collected spring water and plant material is slowly heated. As the steam rises, it passes through the plant material in the form of vapor, carrying vital nutrients, plant acids, and suspended particles of essential oil. As this energetic vapor reaches the condenser and cools, through this alchemical process it emerges in the form of an aromatic water (now a Hydrosol) along with its essential oil counterpart. In most cases, the essential oil will rise to the top, leaving the Hydrosol with roughly 0.1% micro-particles of essential oil.
The Hydrosol may be aged as the scent shifts after distillation, and is then ready to use as a holistic and energetic tool. In addition to it carrying the nutrients and healing benefits from the specific botanical distilled, many believe it also carries the plant's life essence and memory imprint. You may even notice that given thoughtful attention, the individual vibration of the plant's landscape and the unique charge of where and when it was harvested, the smell that was in the air and the elements that encouraged its growth may come through. These waters are precious and capable of great healing, containing all of the plant in a single drop.
Hydrosols in History
Alchemists from all over the world have performed transformational, healing distillations for well over 3,000 years; an artful process we are humbled to participate in and carry forward today. The first stills we know of were created from clay, using the sun and/or fire to heat the still, gently extracting a plant's oil and aromatic waters. Used in healing modalities and cooking, the most prominent Hydrosol in ancient texts has been the use of delicate rose water, which is remarkably still used today! In the 16th century, the design of the copper still was improved, allowing for a more effective process as well as to increase the yield, and by the 18th century, Rose, Orange Blossom, and Geranium Hydrosols were most commonly used to to nourish the skin. When the essential oil industry became more commercialized for their potency and scent offerings, Hydrosols were left on the back burner and slowly became a forgotten gem. Thankfully today, we are seeing Hydrosols return, with a renewed interest in its precious mist.
How to Use
Hydrosols are incredibly gentle and subtle waters. Contrary to their essential oil counterparts, they have virtually no health contradictions and warnings, and are well-suited for beings of all ages and sensitivities (including babies and pets alike). Wildcare Hydrosols are recommended as a daily facial toner and energetic mist, playing an important role in protecting and nourishing the skin from everyday pollutants.
In addition to tonifying the skin, your Hydrosol may also be used as a holistic and energetic mist for mood, as a scalp tonic, added to baths, and used in conjunction with our Clay Masks. Hydrosols are precious ancient remedies, and some of natures most pure antioxidants for the skin. Mist as often as desired for a boost of hydration and refreshment. Our favorite method is misting as a toner after washing the face, and misting again after moisturizing with an oil to lock in the hydration. Your daily consistent use restores the skin’s natural PH balance and allows for a more hydrated complexion.
Hydrosol + Oil
Because the skin is made up of water in the form of sweat and oil aka sebum, utilizing a hydrosol and a facial serum or oil together aids in establishing the skin’s inherent rhythm. Essentially, you’re creating your own fresh moisturizer without the fillers and preservatives of a common face cream. When layered in your ritual, the Hydrosol carries in the moisture from your oil, while your facial oil helps to hold the hydrosol waters close to the skin. This means that those pH balancing plant acids, healing nutrients and potent antioxidants found in both are able to penetrate more efficiently leading to dewy, healthy skin that is properly hydrated and moisturized.
Shop Wildcare Hydrosols, here.