Making Hydrosol at home
After watching many youtube videos on the subject and reading some articles, I decided to attempt to make hydrosols this weekend. This is one of the articles and used very similar equipment that I did. How to Make an Essential Oil Distiller from Kitchen Equipment.
Hydrosols are usually the byproduct of steam distilling essential oils, the hydrosol being the steam water that contains some of the plant properties. Hydrosol shouldn’t be confused with the water that the plant has been steeped in, which is really more of a very strong tisane. Wikipedia describes hydrosols as:
Herbal distillates are aqueous solutions or colloidal suspensions (hydrosol) of essential oils usually obtained by steam distillation from aromatic plants. These herbal distillates have uses as flavorings, medicine and in skin care. Herbal distillates are produced in the same manner as essential oils. However, the essential oil will float to the top of the distillate where it is removed, leaving behind the watery distillate. For this reason perhaps the term essential water is more descript. In the past, these essential waters were considered a byproduct of distillation, but now are considered an important co-product.
The basic concept is that as the plant matter heats and the steam rises, you want to be able to catch that plant infused steam somehow. By placing a bowl in the steam basket of my vegetable steamer, the bowl worked as a vessel to collect the droplets. The lid I used was not the one that came with the steamer (because it had a plastic handle) but a glass lid (like a crockpot lid) with a knob handle on top. The lid is placed over the steamer upside-down with the knob facing down into the steam pot right over my collecting bowl.
As the steam rose and hit the glass lid, droplets ran down to the knob handle then dropped into the bowl. As directed, I did placed bags of ice of top of the lid to help with condensation but with the equipment I was using it didn’t seem that necessary, probably because it was not a deep pot and the steam didn’t have to travel that far.
The first batch I made was from a big handful of Spanish Lavender cuttings. At the time I cut them, the lavender was so sticky with essential oil that some of the purple buds were sticking to my hands — it felt like honey. I know – HOW did I get a handful of lavender this time of year? Here in Nashville, March brought us a surge of hot weather that felt like June (when lavender usually blooms) and brought out many flowering plants ahead of time.
I brought the water close to a boil then immediately turned it down just below simmer and let it do its work for approximately 3 hours. The lavender produced enough hydrosol to fill an 8 ounce jar half-way. The next day when I repeated the process with rosemary, it seemed to yield about an ounce less than the lavender.
Now I have to decide whether I want to refrigerate the hydrosols or add about 20% alchohol (vodka or everclear) to keep them.