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
• 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
- 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.