first of all, what is a hydrosol?
if you’ve heard of an “essential oil”, a hydrosol is kind of like an “essential water” and it contains diluted essential oils.
technically, it is an herbal distillate, obtained by steam distillation from aromatic plants. These herbal distillates have uses in flavorings, medicine and in skin care. they go by many other names including floral water, hydrosol, hydrolate, herbal water and essential water.
because hydrosols are produced at high temperatures and are somewhat acidic, they tend to inhibit bacterial growth. they are not however sterile. they are a fresh product, like milk, and should be kept refrigerated.
so, how do you make it?
it’s actually quite easy. you will need:
- a large stock pot with a lid
- a small glass bowl that will fit in the pot
- a clean brick or something else that can withstand heat and act as a pedestal for your bowl inside the pot
- fresh or dried herbs
make sure everything is extremely clean, then:
- place the brick inside the stock pot
- fill the pot with water up to about 1/2inch below the top of the brick
- place as many herbs as you can fit in the water around the brick
- place your glass bowl on top of the brick (make sure everything fits inside the pot when the lid is on. if it doesn’t, you need a shorter “pedistal”
- place the lid on upside down.
- fill a ziplock bag(s) (any size) with ice and fill the lid, covering as much of it as you can.
- bring the water to a boil
- once boiling, turn the heat down to just a simmer
- the hydrosol will collect on the underside of the lid and drip down into the bowl
- keep the lid on, and let it steam 4-6 hours, or until you have the desired amount of hydrosol in your glass bowl.
that’s it! store your hydrosol in a sterile dark glass bottle with a tight cap in a cool, dark location.
keep bottles full by transferring hydrosols to smaller bottles as needed. when a bottle of hydrosol is left only partially full, the oxygen that also lives inside the bottle reacts with the hydrosol and begins to oxidize it. this process can cause the hydrosol to deteriorate more quickly.
don’t allow unsterilized items like your fingers, cotton balls or other items to come into direct contact with your hydrosols. instead, pour off the quantity that you need or measure it into a different container. then, work from that container, leaving the integrity of your original hydrosol intact.
the shelf life of hydrosols is 6-24 months, depending on the specific hydrosol, but you may be able to extend the shelf life by adding 2% high-proof vodka.