Loading the still to distill aromatherapy essential oils

Feb 21, 2023 3:01:03 PM | achs 5 Essential Tips To Know When Using Hydrosols

Discover the revival of hydrosols in aromatherapy with essential tips for safe and effective use. Learn why hydrosols are gentler, versatile, and a valuable tool for health and wellness.

Throughout your aromatherapy studies, you will have come across reference to aromatic waters, hydrosols, hydrolats, and floral waters.  Essentially, these are all the same thing: the alluring aromatic waters that result from the cooling of the steam process during the distillation of essential oils. I prefer the term hydrosol.Long thought of as a by-product of distillation, hydrosols are enjoying a revival. Hydrosols are an important tool in your aromatherapy toolbox for health and wellness.

Here are five essential tips to get you started:

1. Gentler? More Balanced?

Ever wonder why hydrosols are said to have a more gentle and balanced action?  Hydrosols are jam-packed full of therapeutic constituents, but at a fraction of the concentration of an essential oil. Captured in their aromatic waters are tiny amounts of the volatile aromatherapy essential oil, most of which has been separated off.  Plus, the water-soluble volatiles that don’t make it into the essential oil are captured in the hydrosol. So hydrosols contain a more broad spectrum of constituents and can offer a gentler tool for health and wellness than an aromatherapy essential oil. Hydrosols are yet another way to harness the health and wellness potential from aromatic herbs and botanicals!

Loading the still to distill aromatherapy essential oils
Loading the still to distill aromatherapy essential oils at the ACHS campus distillation lavender open house. Pictured here ACHS President Dorene Petersen, ACHS CIO Erika Yigzaw and local massage therapist Donald Toomim. Copyright ACHS 2012.

ACHS CIO Erika Yigzaw using a pipette to separate lavender essential oil from the hydrosol from distillation of L. Angustifolia. Copyright ACHS 2012.



2. Aromatherapy Essential Oils versus Hydrosols: 

You know that old saying oil and water don’t mix? Well, in an aromatherapy grade hydrosol, a small amount of essential oil is already diluted and mixed in water. You will learn throughout your online aromatherapy classes at ACHS and your holistic health careers that wellness is something we should ideally do everyday: Hydrosols make it easier to accomplish daily health and wellness. No need to dilute or create blends - the hydrosol can be used as a room and body spray right away. Plus, the fact that the essential oil is physically dissolved in the aromatic water assists the body to absorb it.

separator separating the essential oil from the hydrosol
ACHS separator separating the essential oil from the hydrosol at the ACHS 2012 Lavender Open House.

3. But is it safe? 

Safety is always key so this is always a good question to ask. Hydrosols are safe and have been used for many centuries throughout many civilizations and still are.  For example, the aromatic water of Sage Salvia triloba is liberally drunk in many Middle Eastern countries. In Turkey, when you are invited to someone’s home, you'll often be offered a glass of iced sage hydrosol is usual  - an instant and effective antibacterial and antioxidant refreshment.  Rose water and orange blossom water are two other hydrosols that have a long history of culinary use.

4. What about external application?

Splash on and leave to dry – yes, hydrosols are an ideal, quick, and easy external application. Remember they don’t contain alcohol which can be drying and sting if the skin is cut, grazed, sensitive or inflamed. When concocting an unguent or cream, think about adding a hydrosol rather than a tincture; it is milder on the skin. Preparing a hair tonic? Think hydrosol!

5. Inhalation: This is one case when you want to inhale! 

Spray and breathe deep – yes it is that easy. Unlike infusions, lotions, essential oils and tinctures, which all need a level of preparation before the client can use them, aromatic waters are mostly instantly available for a range of internal and external uses. For example, a spray bottle of chamomile Matricaria chamomilla water in your purse or kept at home can be sprayed too soothe skin after a little too much sun or a brush with some irritating plants after a day in the garden. Or use the chamomile Matricaria chamomilla hydrosol as a facial toner, inhaled in hot water or added to a baby’s bath . . . the list is endless. You can even add a teaspoon of chamomile Matricaria chamomilla hydrosol to your chamomile tea for a relaxing end to the day or after a big meal. Need a calming and soothing skin tonic? Spray with Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia. Musty smell in the garbage or anywhere around the house? Spray Lavandin Lavandula intermedia. (What? Aren't they the same? No! Lavandula angustifolia is very different from Lavandula intermedia - more on that in another blog post!) Freshen up the laundry while drying by soaking a cloth in  Lavandin Lavandula intermedia, and toss it in while the clothes are on the dry cycle. Feeling out of sorts because it’s that “time of the month”? Spray your face and wrists three times a day with Vitex Vitex angus-castus hydrosol! As you can see, there are many choices of hydrosols for health and wellness!

The American College of Healthcare Sciences’ Apothecary Shoppe College Store provides a small select range of boutique, hand-distilled therapeutic hydrosols available in 2-16 ounce sizes.

Watch Dorene Petersen distilling Lavender Lavandula intermedia at the ACHS campus during the 2012 ACHS Lavender Open House: 

Learn more about aromatherapy preparations with ACHS's comprehensive, accredited, online diplomas, certificates, and courses. Click here to request more information today.

U-pick lavender at the ACHS Campus 2012.


This information has not been reviewed by the FDA. This information has been provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease.  ACHS has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by ACHS.

Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Written By: Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Dorene is the Founding President of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). She has over 45 years of clinical teaching and lecturing experience in aromatherapy and other holistic health subjects. She has presented papers on essential oils and clinical aromatherapy at the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades Annual Conference (IFEAT) in California, USA; the Aroma Environment Association of Japan (AEAJ) in Tokyo, Japan; the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress (AAIC) and Expo in Bali, Indonesia; the International Center of Advanced Aromatherapy (ICAA) at the WonGwang Digital University in Seoul, Korea; as well as the AAIC Expo in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Dorene is a founding member of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and served as its chair until 2023. Dorene is also involved in the distance education community and has served as a volunteer, committee member, and standards evaluator for the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Dorene is a travel junkie, and has led ACHS Study Abroad programs to India, Indonesia, Greece, and Hawaii!