How to use Hydrolats
Distilled plant waters also known as hydrolats are a product of distillation and can be considered as a partial extract of the plant material from which they are derived. They may be by-products of distillation for essential oils, e.g. chamomile water and lavender water or a specific distillation of plant material which has no or a very little amount of essential oil like cornflower. During the process of distillation the volatile components of the plant are carried over by the steam and after condensation are found in the hydrolat.
The shelf life of hydrolats is relatively low in comparison with essential oils, anything between 6 months and 1 year if stored cool, out of sunlight and in the right containers, made of appropriate material (such as coloured glass or lined aluminium. However I still think they are a hidden gem in the world of aromatherapy. Unlike essential oils which if used incorrectly come with risks, hydrolats are completely safe and can be used by all as they do not have the concentrated strength of oils.
Hydrolats can be used in a variety of ways including:
In Skincare by adding them to creams, lotions and masks or creating facial spray with them or using them as skin toners.
As compresses for burns, aches and pains or for dry and itchy eyes or used as mouthwash which myrhh hydrolat is particularly good for due to its antibacterial properties. Roman chamomile hydrolat is good for pain and inflammation.
Used directly onto the skin for a variety of skin disorders including eczema, nappy rash, ulcers and wounds, they are particularly good for the frail and babies and children as they are so gentle. They also have a very low risk of irritation which why they can be used on open wounds and mucous surfaces.
Added to water hot or cold to aid digestion or added to foods as dressings or in sauces although internal use should be under the advice of a trained aromatherapist.
Used as a ready to go spray for room fragrances or fresheners or in terms of pet care where essential oils are too strong.
Added to baths for small children and babies where essential oils would be too strong
As hydrolats are so versatile I feel they should be a staple in many aromatherapists cupboards like my own, the benefits of them far outweighs the short shelf life and they can be bought in amounts as small as 100ml. They have a subtle effect without the risk of irritation and so are good for the treatment of internal problems, mucous skin areas and on those that would not tolerate the essential oils well. The only thing to be wary of is that other than Lavender, Rose and Neroli many of the hydrolats do not smell as nice as their essential oil counterparts so it is probably best to try before you buy!