Distilling the essential water from plants
We all love essential oils. They are so powerful, so concentrated, have so many benefits for the body and mind and are easy to store (until your son drops a bottle on the floor ;) ). But did you ever see how much plant material is needed to distill a few drops of essential oil? I have. A friend has a home distiller. We collected a few big bags of Eucalyptus leaves to distill and we literally got 30 drops. Out of the other end of the machine, we got a big bottle of hydrosol- the essential water that is distilled from the plant.
At the home scale level distilling, essential oils are not where I want to spend my time or backyard space. But I do harvest a lot of herbs from the garden, more than what I need for dry remedies and infused oils. There are also many herbs that can be collected from parks or community gardens. Here is where the hydrosol comes into play. It is another way to interact with plants and to distill a plant’s essence in order to incorporate it into body care products and remedies.
Hydrosols can be incorporated into body care products at any time in the water phase.
Lotions and soaps: When making lotions and soaps the hydrosol can be used as part of the water phase before emulsion.
Spray Deodorant: The hydrosol can replace all or part of the water and the alcohol.
Bath bombs: Use a hydrosol such as witch hazel, rose or eucalyptus to mist the mixture with while mixing. Results in fragrant and hard bath bombs.
Face toner: Mix infused apple cider vinegar with hydrosol and water to create a wonderful face toner.
Face/ body spray: a great refresher for the hot sticky days of summer. Mix together a strong herbal infusion, hydrosol, and essential oils, or use hydrosol alone.
Air/ bedding freshener: Mix with some rubbing alcohol and essential oils to create a room or bedding freshener.
So how do we distill essential water- Hydrosol- from our plants?
Collect and wash your plant material: leaves or flowers.
Place in a tall pot.
Place a heatproof bowl upside down in the center of the pot (move the leaves around a little to get it into place).
Almost cover the plant matter with water.
Place another heatproof bowl or jar on the upside-down bowl.
Turn on the heat and simmer the plant and water mixture. Don't allow the water to reach a boil.
Cover the pot with the cover upside down and place ice in the cover. *I recommend ice packs or ice in bags because it was very uncomfortable to remove the cover one the ice melted.
The hydrosol condenses on the covert of the pot and rolls down the knob of the cover into the bowl.
Collect the hydrosol from the bowl and store it in the fridge.