Category Archives: Hydrosols

Hydrosols Prepared using an Alembic

written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG)

In previous posts I have provided some guidance for creating floral waters at home in your kitchen using common kitchen utensils, cooking pots and ice. Here are some photos of my own alembic, created by a potter who specialises in creating  replicas of ancient pottery pieces used back in the middle ages.

So far I have explored creating floral waters from pine, chamomile, rose, orange, lavender and cucumber; all of which have been unique and wonderful in their own way.

       

Reach for cucumber hydrosol as a facial spray for those puffy eyes first thing in the morning. Lavender is my favorite spritzer for everything – I love the scent!  It provides soothing properties for a sun burn, is an excellent toner to use after washing the face before bed. Orange floral water can brighten the scent of any home cleaning solution or use organic orange floral water added into a fruit salad or desert.

   

 

Hydrosols & Aromatic Waters

Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG)

Stove Top Distillation Method for Floral Waters

Hydrosols aka, aromatic waters and floral waters are an enchanting way of making rose water, orange water and other aromatic waters prepared from fresh or dried plant material, vegetables, barks or roots.
For the easy kitchen preparation all you need is some simple kitchen ingredients.

~ Materials ~
• Large pot with a lid, a pot for canning works great
• Large lid for pot – clear and curved is ideal (so you can see the accumulation of aromatic water in your inside container)
• Small bowl or pyrex glass container to sit inside your pot to collect the hydrosol.
• Something heat-proof to stand the smaller container on inside the large pot, a jar rack works     perfectly for this. A heat-proof ramekin, flat rock or steamer, with legs, with the center removed will also work.
• Water: high quality distilled or filtered
• Zip lock bag to store the melting ice
• Lots of ice cubes (consider even freezing ice in a 250 ml or 500 ml yoghurt container or another large vessel)
• Plant material (fresh or dried) chopped finely
• A heat source: fire, hot plate, electric stove, gas or butane camping stove
• Bottles or a mister spray bottle for storing your hydrosol
• Labels
• Have a dedicated notebook close by for recording your experience and findings

~ Method ~
Place the rack or ramekin in the bottom of the large pot and put the small collecting bowl or container on top of the ramekin. Next fill the bottom of the large pot with plant material. You want the plants to reach up to the smaller bowl. If you would like to record your amount- take the herbs out and weigh them – before returning them to the pot. Then fill with water until the plant material is submersed. Finally put your lid upside down on top of the large pot. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. After it starts to simmer, put the bag of ice on the inverted lid. Replace ice as needed. A clear lid will allow for you to watch the hydrosol condense! Heat up enough for the water surrounding the plant material to steam but not boil, or bring up to a boiling point and reduce to a low simmer. Let the distillation work its magic for about 30 minutes or so.
~ How It Works ~
The water will steam the plant material carrying the aromatic essence from the plant into the air. The steam collects on the lid of the pan and condenses due to the ice cubes. Because the pot lid is upside down, as the steam turns back into a liquid the liquid is directed to drip down into the smaller bowl. This liquid is your hydrosol (aka floral water)! Note that the plant material inside the alembic will be dry, brittle and noticeably void of any color or life force remaining. It has been said that the life force of the plant or vital chi energy, is carried over into the new creation. Store you hydrosol in a dark glass bottle in the refrigerator. Hydrosols are intended for immediate use and have a shelf life of a  one to couple months to a little longer depending upon storage. Use your hydrosols often and enjoy!
Creative Hydrosol Application
Some of my favorite hydrosol preparations are ones prepared from common flowers and fruits. Fresh or dried chamomile, rose petals, lavender, fireweed, cucumber, orange and lemon and some of my fond favorites.

Applications are as varied as your creativity. Aromatic waters have a relatively short shelf life so they are best used daily. Consider using hydrosols for:

  • Skin Care: for skin conditions from acne to diaper rash to oily or dry, mature
    skin. Place  into a spritzer container and use on the skin.
  • Add into creams, use as a skin toner or for wound care, sunburn, rashes or
    poison ivy.
  • Prepare a compress for sore muscles, rashes, bites even hot flushes.
    Add into a bath, foot soak, hair rinse, mouthwash or a neti pot.
  • Use as a humidifier or room atomizer to elevate the energy in a room and uplift emotions.
  • Consider adding into culinary recipes or medicine making; replace the water in your recipe with hydrosol!
  • Home cleaning: car cleaning, yoga mats, massage tables cleaning, ironing, laundry in the dryer.
  • Pet care: hot spots, for washing infected ears, for rinsing fur or dirty faces
  • Digestion support or finger bowls.

The Alchemy of Hydrosols

How to Prepare Floral Waters, or in ancient terms: Preparing Hydrosols using Alembics
Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG)
Copyright 2017
www.katolenyardley.com

The art of distillation dates back past 5000 BC. Herbal waters or hydrosols even predate
the preparation of essential oils by hundreds of years. If you are interested in creating
floral waters, aka, hydrosols, then learn the basics of plant distillation. Becoming familiar with the words used in the process and the rituals associated with historical use immediately aligns us with historic practices and the magic of transformation itself. When creating hydrosols, know that you are tapping into ancient wisdom and transformative alchemical processes.

Deciphering Terms:

  • Floral water creates a useful visual but is not the most accurate representation, as hydrosols can be steam distilled from other plant parts, barks, seeds, fruits, roots as well as flowers, vegetables, even beeswax.
  • Aromatic water or plant water are descriptive terms – painting the picture of an ‘aroma filled’ water; however water from plants do not always bringing forth the familiar characteristic scent of the plant, but take on there is a fingerprint of the plants’ essence.
  • Hydrosol The term hydrosol was first recorded around 1860, the term comes from the Latin hydro, meaning ‘water’ and sol, which means ‘solution.’ ‘Hydrosol’ indicates any water-based solution or distillate waters.
  • Hydrolate or hydrolat may be the most accurate words to use. Sourced from the Greek word ‘hydor’, and Latin word ‘hydro’, means ‘water,’ and lait, meaning ‘milk’ referring to how the liquid appears when it comes off the still.

Distillation The process of purifying a liquid by volatilization or evaporation and subsequent condensation of a liquid, as when water is boiled in a retort and the steam is condensed in a cool receiver. (Dictionary.com) The process of heating a liquid until it gives off a gas and then cooling the gas until it again becomes liquid (Mirriam Webster Dictionary Online). The word ‘distillation’ comes from the Latin word ‘destillare’ meaning ‘to trickle down drop by drop.’

An alembic is an apparatus or piece of equipment used in distillation, an agent something that refines or transmutes as if by distillation.  There are many types of Alembics, also known as distillation units or stills which can vary in design, purpose and materials used. There are clay pottery alembics, stills made from  brass, iron, copper and stainless steel. If you are using equipment for medicine making ensure you choose food grade equipment.

How Hydrosols are Created
Hydrosols are created from the steam distillation of plant matter which produces both essential oils and a water component (hydrosol). Steam distillation can occur in a large, tall pot (alembic), containing plant matter and water. As the pot is heated the water will break through the plant material and loosen the volatile constituents. Steam, intermingled with the aromatic essence of the plant material, will rise to the top of the alembic. A tightly fitting lid, with a secure seal ensures that no steam will leak out of the vessel and instead allows for the steam to rise to the top of the alembic. As the steam cools it transforms into liquid which is collected at the top of the lid and as the steam cools it transforms back into aromatic water, seeping down the sides, into the spout and  and into the collecting bowl container.

For kitchen preparations- the steam collects on the lid of the pan and condenses due to the ice cubes (the ice cools down the steam), turning the steam back into water (hydrolat), with small amounts of oil (essential oil). Because the pot lid is upside down, as the steam turns back into a liquid, the liquid drips down into the smaller collecting bowl. Small amount of essential oil also transfer into the hydrosol. Aromatic waters and essential oil do not mix, so any the essential oil, may be seen on the top of the water where it can be siphoned off or mixed into the final product. As hydrosols are a water-based product; pay close attention in both the distillation and preservation processes to preventing bacterial contamination. First and foremost is the cleanliness of the still, tubing, high quality water, collecting vessels, and work surfaces used in the distilling process. For more information on kitchen preparations of hydrosols, continue reading.