Homemade Hydrosols

After removing the oils from my diet I saw a huge improvement in my overall skin health. I seem to heal minor abrasions better with less infections and I have a lot less acne, dry skin, and scaring. Still I’m seeing more wrinkles and freckles as I age and while my dry skin is better it is not gone. I also have a fairly constant allergic rash on the back of both hands in the place between the thumb and the forefinger, that gets worse when my allergies flare up and calms when they settle down but never really goes away. The picture doesn’t show it very well.

My constant allergic rash.

My constant allergic rash.

Because of my sensitivity to oils, and the skin being the third largest organ to package up fats to be utilized in the bloodstream I am reluctant to use anything on my skin that I wouldn’t eat. I still use a topical ointment for scratches, which is petroleum based but wonder every time if its a good idea. I do not use bug creams or hydrocortisone. There are many skin oils that I avoid because I don’t know how they are made and I don’t want to make them at home myself. (Argon oil, coconut oil, neem oil, grapeseed oil, black current oil, chamomile oil, rosehip seed oil, marula oil, dilo oil, caster oil, tee tree oil, shea butter, and palm oil.) I also avoid most commercially available lotions for dry skin that almost invariably contain processed oil or their derivatives.

I have a bottle of emu oil and I do use it or very fresh chicken fat, lard or butter on my hands or elbows when they are extremely dry because I worry that rancid fats will be broken down just enough to set off my sensitivity. While fats do work to moisten the skin I do have to be careful not to touch any paper soon after an application or I will mark it with a greasy stain.

During the winter I read a book called Farmicology by Daphne Miller, where she talks about hydrosols. Rose water is a common example of a hydrosol. Traditionally it has been used for skin care for century’s. Basically a plant is simmered in water and the steam is reformed (distilled) to create a clear water that holds the essential oils from the plant in suspension. It sounds very complicated, but it is actually pretty simple to do at home.

A very simple illustration of distilling hydrosol with a pot.

A very simple illustration of distilling hydrosol with a pot.

Here is a picture of the general way of making hydrosol.

In Farmicology Dr. Miller talked about noticing an age spot on her face. It bothered her enough that she started treating it with a medically prescribed bleaching cream, only she broke out with a horrible rash (medically called periorol dermatitis) which she treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics only worked until she stopped taking them. In the end she resorted to hydrosol. Within minutes of her first application the burning of her rash eased. After using the hydrosol regularly her skin recovered and started to improve.

She went on to talk about the way that water removes the complex chemicals from the plant allows them to be utilized directly by the skin in a way that they can’t via digestion. Also the complexity of the chemicals work better for skin problems than the simpler breakdowns that chemists have been creating for beauty products over the years.

The doctor never said if the original blotch that set off her journey was improved but I figured if hydrosol could fix a rash and probably the subsequent dry skin, that was good enough for me and swore once the nice weather hit that I would make some hydrosol for my skin.

When I noticed the wild roses come into bloom a few weeks ago I decided it was time to make hydrosol. Hydrosols can be made out of anything apparently but I thought that I would start with something traditionally good for skin. The pink wild roses have a wonderful scent so I gathered enough rose petals to fill a quart sized bag and when I got them home I removed all the stems and bugs before soaking the petals in a bowl of cold water to rinse them off.

Project tools

This is a picture of my basic equipment.

You can see the large stainless steel pot with a good domed lid to hold ice. The first recipe I read said not to use a metal pot but other people said that stainless works just fine and I had no problems with it.

There are also two small glass ramekins. I tried to use two, two cup, Pyrex glass dishes at first, one pointed upright and one upside down underneath it. The upside down glass bowl picked up water and held onto it so that there were two cups of pink water collected in it which would then not evaporate into the air of the pot. I had to switch to a smaller ramekin which I then placed upright under the Pirex glass dish. I believe the small ramekin can be placed either upright or upside down but remember that if it is upside down it will collect water. I have also seen recipes that use a ring of tinfoil instead of a ramekin and I imagine a steamer basket could also be used. What is important is that the dish be above the bottom of the pot and stay cool enough that the water will not evaporate out of it as water drips into it.

The jug of water is filled with reverse osmosis water rather than distilled but I think either would work fine.

Pot placement

I placed the two ramekins in the center of the pot. Then I spread the rose petals around the ramekins and put in an inch of water to cover them. I placed the lid upside down on top of the pot and put ice on top of that. I brought the whole thing to a boil on my stove and then turned it down to a simmer. The ramekins did move around a little and I used some tongs to move them back into position a few time during the simmering process. I also had to dump the melted ice water off the pot of the lid every ten to fifteen minutes.  It took an hour and a half to make about 5 oz of hydrosol.


The two 4 oz brown bottles are hydrosol. The square one was full and the round one was only a third full.

I could have gotten more hydrosol if I’d had a bit more patience and some more ice. As it is the pink water in the large bottle is what was left when I strained out the now white rose petals from the large pot and poured in it the big bottle.  I keep all of them in the fridge except a small portion that I have in a mister bottle in the bathroom to use after showering.

The vanilla scent in the hydrosol was due to the bottles former use as a vanilla container. Rose and vanilla go very nicely together I think.

I’ve used the plain hydrosol for several weeks now after my showers, both on my face and hands. Rose water has a pleasant scent that does not linger. It is light and very cooling to spritz in in 100 degree weather.  My rash does seem to have gotten better overall but it still gets worse whenever I have an allergy attack so I can’t really attest to it’s skin healing powers.

One problem cropped up: I was surprised when I switched over to the pink water a week ago that my face broke out almost instantly. My reading said that the pink water would work the same as hydrosol, but I think that that may not be the case.  I’m going to take some time with a smaller pot and try and make some more hydrosol out of the pink water soon.

Overall I think it was a successful project. I am very happy using it and it is nice to have a skin care product I can make at home that shouldn’t upset my oil sensitivity.

This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Health, Oil Intolerance, Oils, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Homemade Hydrosols

  1. Pingback: Essential Oils | Silver Pen Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.