When Rachel Carson wrote her exposé of the disastrous effects of chemicals on our agriculture and water bodies, Silent Spring, she caused mass outrage from pesticide lobbyists.
She also did the American public an enormous service. You see, it became clear for laymen, parents, nature lovers, rural citizens, farmers, and those curious enough to read for themselves that we were signing checks we wouldn’t be able to cash someday.
For the first time, citizens were informed enough about chemicals to make a choice about how they voted, what substances they chose to use, and whether or not they were willing to pay in the future for long-term damage on their lands and in their bodies.
As the chemical industry has only grown since then, grassroots warriors have been finding alternatives to the harsh chemicals we use in all forms.
Including your cleaning supplies.
More and more frequently, people are turning to ancient botanical-infused water to help. In fact, this kind of water is older even than essential oils! This water is the first step in separating the essential oils from their botanicals.
We’re talking about hydrosols.
Hydrosols: Sometimes called “flower waters,” hydrosols are waters with therapeutic properties similar to essential oils. They’re made by steam-distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers, and other botanical materials. The final product is less concentrated and more safe for direct application than essential oils.
Let’s start with the basics…
Help Me Visualize
One of the older varieties of hydrosol that might immediately explain what we mean is rose water. Rose water brightened the aroma of a room or a body, was used medicinally, in cooking, and cosmetically.
Here’s how it works: The steam used in the distillation process gently nudges the botanicals to open up and release their essence. The oils float to the top of the water, separating the way oils tend to do.
The process is a bit more intricate than that – we’ll go more in depth in a future issue – but what you’re left with after separating the water from the oil is the distilled water and organic essence called hydrosol.
Hydrosol, at the end, contains some of the essential oils from the herbs used plus any hydrophilic (water soluble) compounds from the plant matter. Essential oils are hydrophobic – they don’t dissolve in water.
And they can do lots of things.
Every drop of hydrosol contains all of the matter existing in the plant at the time of its distillation.
They’re easy to save for long periods of time, as long as they stay out of excessive light or heat.
And they’ve come a long way since ancient queens used to mist their palaces and dewify their complexions…
How Can You Use Them?
Hydrosols are incredibly versatile – they perform plenty more functions than simply aromatherapy.
Any benefits that a plant or botanical or herb has, so too can a hydrosol have. Often, you’ll find hydrosols being used as anti-itch sprays, sunburn relief, acne treatment, car fresheners, immune support, lymph system support, linen freshener, skin toner, insect repellant, anti-bacterial spray for cuts and scrapes, and more.
They work wonders as an antimicrobial surface cleaner base, or laundry detergent base, or other cleaning product base.
Lemon and thyme hydrosols, for example, are great at reducing the volume of microbes while cleaning.
Eucalyptus hydrosols are good for cleaning shower stalls.
Peppermint hydrosols are great as the base in surface cleaners, while lavender does great work freshening linen surfaces.
There are millions of recipes and ways to keep your home clean without affecting more damage than the dirt was doing.
Hydrosols are a simple, effective, and gentle way to keep your home sparkling – and they’re safe for children as well!
In a future issue, we’ll talk hydrosol recipes for building your own fully stocked life-preparedness cabinet.