As a health and birth professional who has guided many hundreds of vaginal steams in our center, I believe the use of hydrosols in vaginal steams is a missing link in the use of therapeutic plants as a hydrotherapy and phytotherapy tool.
Hydrosols are pure plant magic. Hydrosols or in french Hydrolats, are the water that is created as a result of the steam distillation process. Very simply, a hydrosol is the water that is distilled with an essential oil. When the steam from the distilled water passes through the plant material, it takes with it the volatile oils from the plant, the essential oil is scooped off the top of the steam turned back to water and the water that is left is called the hydrosol and perfect imprint of the plant matter that was distilled.
It takes approximately one pound of plant or flower material to make a pint of hydrosol and much less yield of essential oil. Not only is using hydrosols for vaginal steams and body care more ecologically sustainable but the hydrosol contains all of the water soluble plant magic that the essential oil does not contain this precious water in my opinion is untapped resources of the plant and flower world.
A hydrosol, according to Suzanne Catty, is a chemistry term meaning “water solution.” Hydrosols are also known by a variety of other names:
- floral waters or
- plant waters
Catty goes on to say it is important to note that hydrosols are NOT simply distilled water with essential oils added to them. In this case, the two do not mix. Some of the water-soluble plant oils will combine with the water and impart therapeutic properties. This creates a much gentler, more diluted product which is generally safer to use than an essential oil.
The hydrosol can contain very small amounts of micro essential oil particles giving hydrosols their mild aromatic scent. Hydrosols are water soluble, meaning they go right into your skin, essential oils are not water soluble and require a carrier oil to “carry” it into the skin.
Hydrosols need to be stored properly, preferably in a cool, dark environment (like a refrigerator). Since most hydrosols contain no preservatives, they have relatively short shelf lives of between 6 months to 2 years, depending on the hydrosol.