Nature seems to be, if nothing else, beyond a daily miracle, dedicated to the universal principle that nothing should be wasted or unused. Thankfully, the science of aromatherapy takes full advantage of this principle by a physical and natural chemical process known as distillation ”“ the use of high temperatures to change water into steam while in the presence of herbs, flowers and plants. The steam is used to release the essential oils and other inner properties from plants, but once the separation occurs, the steam is then cooled by an additional stage called condensation. The steam is condensed and transferred once again to pure water, with a lingering flavor of the particular flower or plant that was used in the initial process.
In the art and science of aromatherapy, what remain after the essential oils are separated are called hydrosols, or floral water. Hydro means water and the word sol, in Spanish, means sun. Combined, the words can be looked at as “sun water” or energy of life placed in water. This concept alone is what attracts so many scientist, scholars and health-conscious people to the therapeutic practice of modern aromatherapy. The most familiar example of hydrosols is the subtle diversity and beneficial uses of rosewater. As an aerosol mist, it becomes an excellent room deodorizer or it can be integrated into the therapy for children and the elderly because of its positive skin-sensitive effects. Be aware that simply adding essential oils to water will not produce a hydrosol. One must actually complete the process of distillation and the removal of essential oils to have an authentic hydrosol.
Hydrosols are an ideal complement in phyto-aromatic therapy. They complement the oil soluble component of plant life, represented by the essential oils with a water soluble aromatic component. When plants are steam-distilled to produce essential oils, some very valuable compounds of the plant that are not found in the essence become dissolved in the distillation water. Hydrosols can be used in place of water in creating facial toners and other beauty products. In France, hydrosols are often used when essential oils may be too strong. They can also be added to the bath, used as a body spray, and even used in bowls for elegant dinners. Examples of commonly available hydrosols are orange, roman chamomile, neroli, lavender and rose. Hydrosols remind us that nature is captivated by fragrance, dedicated to detail and to the utility of conservation.
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