Today I am in the process of making patchouli hydrosol. I have lovely big, fragrant, bush in my garden which seems to be at it's peak so I harvested some around noon and will be distilling in an hour or so. I thought I would just share some information about hydrosols in general as they seem to be coming into my world in a big way. As I'm discovering more about them I'm realizing how useful they can be.
David Crow of Floracopeia describes them as, "the aromatic waters that condense in the collecting vessel during steam distillation. Because they contain only minute amounts of the essential oil, hydrosols are very safe and gentle. Many hydrosols can be sprayed directly into the eyes, taken as drinks, used for washing the skin, and other uses. Although they are mild in nature, hydrosols contain a wide range of therapeutic compounds which makes them highly effective for treating various health concerns. In Ayurvedic medicine aromatic waters are called arkas; they are consumed as drinks for their therapeutic benefits, especially for digestive disorders." He also cautions that because hydrosols are water-based they have a shorter shelf life than essential oils. Each hydrosol is unique in its longevity. They advise that you keep them refrigerated. Many hydrosols should have a shelf life of at least a year. If any signs of mold appear over time, the hydrosol should not be used.*
Herbalist James Green says that these fascinating waters carry both some bit of the volatile oils that are the essential oils along with many mild and soothing water-soluble components of the plant that are not present in the volatile oils. And he adds that where the essential oils carry components which can cause irritation to the skin if not adequately diluted the hydrosols do not irritate. Instead they present soothing, anti-inflammatory acids and other compounds that heal the skin and are exclusive to the aromatic hydrosol. *
Hydrosols can be thought of as sort of a homeopathic version of the essential oil. They are safe and gentle for topical use, and for use with children and animals. They are highly effective with few contraindications. There are several ways to use these healing waters in skin and body care, and in the home. The most common are: as a refreshing skin care mist or toner, as an air freshener, as a compress, added to water for hair rinse; as an additive to clay masks and creams; as a subtle and natural perfume. They gently counteract the drying effects of the air as well as adverse conditions in offices, schools, on planes and in institutional settings.
Other ways to use hydrosols:
Use as an additive to a humidifier; a tablespoon will add a refreshing, subtle aroma and more, up to a cup, will increase the aroma strength. Some hydrosols can also provide anti-microbial properties to mist.
They make excellent base waters for syrups and can be used in cooking, for flavoring drinks or making flavored ice cubes.
The Patchouli Hydrosol is excellent for use in both skin care and hair care. It has a rich, sweet-earthy fragrance which is a much softer version of the deep, earthy scent of the essential oil. The hydrosol can be used for stress related conditions, sexual dysfunction and nervous exhaustion alone or in formulations.
Patchouli has a long history in Asia, specifically India, China, and Malaysia, where it is still used to treat skin related diseases. Patchouli is known to be antiseptic and anti-fungal, and has been shown to stimulate cell regeneration. It is recommended for use in caring for mature, dry, and chapped skin also for acne, and eczema. It is truly a unisex aroma, so it makes a wonderful skincare toner for men and woman. In perfumery patchouli is known as a fixative which means that it acts to bind other ingredients together to prolong their activity and enhance their therapeutic value.
I know last blog I said that I was going to talk more about the Greenaissance and about Elizabeth Sahtouris in particular, and I will get to that. Essentially everything I talk about is about the Greenaissance but I don't always lay it out that way. Over time this will all become more apparent so be patient and stay tuned. All will be revealed in this marvelous unfolding process.
David Crow from the Floracopeia website
James Green from The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook p. 118-119