Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Making Your Own Hydrosols

Before I get into the process, let me first explain what a hydrosol is.  Hydrosols are products of steam distilling plant materials. If you were distilling lavender, for example, the concentrated essence from the plant would be the essential oil, and the fragrant water that was steamed with the plant material is the hydrosol.  A hydrosol, just like an essential oil, contains all of the essence of the plant but in a much milder concentration. Hydrosols have a variety of uses including: body splashes, face wash, home fragrance, and some can even be used in cooking. I primarily use hydrosols for skin care purposes. Previously, I had to purchase my hydrosols online because they were not available even in the specialty health food stores in town.  If I had a big order, this was no big deal, but it is sort of a pain to pay for shipping just to buy 16oz or 32oz of lavender hydrosol.  One of my fellow natural mommas gave me a link to a video that shows how to make your own hydrosols at home(Making Your Own Hydrosol Video), so I decided to try it.
  In the video, they made the hydrosol a slightly different way, using a bowl elevated on a brick or a large stone. However, they also mentioned that you could use a steamer basket insert in a pot. This is the method I used and will discuss in this blog.
You will need:
  • Some type of dried plant material some examples include calendula flowers, rosemary, lavender, rose petals(I used lavender)
  • A medium to large sized pot with elevated steamer basket(one that does not fill the entire pot) and a lid
  • distilled water
  • bags of ice cubes
I filled the bottom of the pot with dried lavender; I think it was probably approximately 1 1/2-2 cups of plant material.  I then filled the pot a little over 1/2 way with distilled water. Make sure there is enough water to cover the plant material. I boiled the water and then set the temp to medium. I set the steamer basket inside the pot, and then placed a small glass bowl inside the steamer basket, this bowl is where your hydrosol will collect.  Place the lid UPSIDE DOWN over the pot. I then put a freezer bag full of ice on top of the lid.  The ice makes the steam condense, and then it will run off into your glass bowl.  After about 20 minutes, I had a bowl full of lavender hydrosol! I let it cool and then stored it the fridge. It wasn't difficult at all, and I save money by making it myself:-)

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