Hydro-what? Don’t worry, I didn’t know what they were either. It wasn’t until I attended aromatherapy school that I learned about hydrosols. In my blog post, Using Kid Scents with Common Sense, I mentioned the use of hydrosols for children. It has been a godsend since hydrosols came into my life. What do I like about them?
1. They are cheaper than essential oils.
2. They are better suited for children.
3. Since they are so gentle, they are easier to use.
Hydrosols are aromatic waters with healing benefits. The name is derived from Latin hydro, meaning water and sol, meaning solution. “Hydrosols are the condensate water coproduced during the steam-or hydro-distillation of plant material for aromatherapeutic purposes.” [i] Basically, it’s the water leftover from the distillation process after the essential oil has floated to the top and has been collected.
Hydrosols do not have the same aroma as their corresponding essential oil. This is because hydrosols only extract the water-soluble components of the botanical material. Some of characteristic aromatic components are oil-soluble, therefore only found in the essential oil. For example, Lavender(Lavandula angustifolia) hydrosol has more of a grassy aroma than the floral smell of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil.
“Already significantly milder than essential oils; water-soluble for ease of application, absorption, and [sic]; and dilutable down to homeopathic proportions, they are the obvious choice for these special conditions. Everything about them is gentle-the smell, the chemistry, and the potency-but they remain highly effective.” [ii] “Aromatic hydrosols are often very similar in composition to their parent essential oils. They represent a naturally available hydrophilic form closest to the composition of the respective essential oil.” [iii]
What makes hydrosols a good choice for children? They are already diluted, therefore a fraction of the concentration of essential oils. Remember, a child’s body is smaller and doesn’t metabolize things as well; therefore not much is needed to bring things back into balance. Hydrosols are also convenient. Just spray on the skin and let dry. Pour into the bathtub. Spray in the room and inhale.
Let’s look at the possibilities. “For children, hydrosols can be used to address: fungus, skin abrasion, acne, dry skin, rash, burn, and mild skin irritation.” [iv]I have personally had success using Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) hydrosol to soothe my one-year-old’s sunburn. I also have used it for diaper rash and any other skin irritation on my children. You can spray the hydrosol on a child’s pillow or crib linens to help sleep. Or just spray it in the room to induce a calming effect. I use it as “monster spray” for my toddler.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) can reduce swelling and skin irritations. It is useful for a child’s eczema flare-ups. It can also be used for teething. Put a few drops on your fingers and rub it on teeth. When your child needs to calm down, spritz it on the back of your child’s neck.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), just like Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), can be used in bath water for calming. It can be used for diaper rash, in homemade wet wipes, and for calming rashes. Since it is fairly astringent, so do not use on overly dry skin. It can be used on the belly to calm an upset stomach.
Not all hydrosols are suitable for use on children and they should not be used in the same manner as adults. According to Suzanne Catty, “For children less than two years of age, use only Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and German Chamomile. After that, use your common sense and be guided by the child.” [v]
Sounds good, doesn't it? Don't know where to start? I would suggest speaking with a qualified aromatherapist (one with 200+ hours of education from a NAHA/AIA approved school). Or I recommend Suzanne Catty's book, which is listed in the references below. Or both! Either way, just because they are more gentle than essential oils, doesn't mean you shouldn't learn how to use hydrosols properly. As always, education is the key!
Disclaimer: Certified Aromatherapists do not diagnose, prescribe, or treat disease. Information on this website is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA. Aromatherapy is not a replacement for medical care. Please seek advice from a medical professional before seeing a qualified aromatherapist.
[i] Catty, Suzanne (2001), Hydrosols: the Next Aromatherapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
[ii] Catty, Suzanne (2001), Hydrosols: the Next Aromatherapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
[iii] Schnaubelt, Kurt (1998), Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
[iv] Black, Cindy. and Butje, Andrea. (2016b), Body Butters and Lip Balms Class; Datasheets. Retrieved from: http://www.aromahead.com/online-course/body-butters-and-lip-balms.
[v] Catty, Suzanne (2001), Hydrosols: the Next Aromatherapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
Picture credit goes to Aromahead Insitute of Essential Oil Studies @ www.aromahead.com