I have recently started making my own Rose and Lavender Hydrasols, which is steam distilled essence of the plant or flower, for use on the skin. Like all homebrew it is a bit of an experiment, consider it an Aromatherapy Moonshine.
Now you may read this post and think;
“Holy Smokes, that just sounds a bit fiddly and time consuming for some flower water. I’m just going to sit here and eat Chipsticks and drink Irn Bru.”
And that’s fine too. I’ve tried it out so you don’t have to. It is convoluted process but the results were light, fragrant and nourishing for the skin. So stick that up your Hydrasol.
First up, Rose and Lavender hydrasols are both astringents so make great toners or refreshing facial sprays. If you apply them after cleansing they can soothe blotchiness, close pores and reduce inflammation of the capillaries. There is approximately .02% of essential oil in a Hydrasol, making it useful for applications for which a pure Essential oil would be too strong. Both Rose and Lavender have anti-bacterial properties so are great for problem skin or minor breakouts. Additionally Rose is considered very good for ‘mature’ skin as it is rejuvenating and the scent is considered to be good for lifting your spirits or your libido. I’ve been beating men off with a stick for weeks now.
Lavender fragrance is a brilliant sleep aid and de-stresser and although I haven’t tried it yet I’ve been told you can add the Lavender water to your laundry when washing bedding so that is has a subtle lavender-y perfume. Madonna once said that when she went on a date with Prince he smelt strongly of lavender.
“Like a woman. I felt like I was in the presence of Miss Elizabeth Taylor. He reeks of lavender. It turned me on actually.”
(Prince you teeny tiny hot patootie, tone it the heck down! Slap on some hydrosol, keep it low key baby. No, I don’t want to buy a Watchtower but yes, I will have sex with you if you sing ‘Purple Rain’.)
So now that you’re practically begging me for the make-your-own-Hydrasol technique, here it is. Have fun with it.
You want to remove all the flowers from the stems and place them in a wide bottomed (snigger) saucepan. I used about thirteen roses for the Rose Hydrasol and a heap of dried lavender flowers for the Lavender. You can cheaply buy bags of dried petals in health food shops but fresh works best I think. You will need a lid for this saucepan, one which can be inverted in order for the water to collect into the bowl.
Place a flat stone (or brick if your saucepan is big enough) in the bottom of the pan. If you have neither of these things to hand you can use an upturned heatproof bowl. It has to have a flat surface because you are going to balance another heatproof bowl on this, turned the right way up, to catch the distilled water.
Cover the flowers with water and place on the hob. Stone inside, bowl inside, lid on but upside down. Make sure the bowl does not touch the lid or you will loose all your lovely hydrosol. Make sure also that the lid is a snug fit so no steam escapes. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
A big bag of ice would be best but if you’ve got five or more full ice cube trays that you haven’t put in your gin yet (you lush) then that would be about right. You want lots of ice. Put all this ice onto the lid and keep replacing it as it melts down.
Once the water is rolling turn it right down to a gentle simmer. You don’t want to boil it too fast, just sweat it out a bit. When the steam hits the cold lid it evaporates and drips down the inverted lid to collect in the bowl. This is your hydrosol, and when you take it out at the end you will see a filmy layer on top of it which is the essence of the flower. Awesome huh ?
You need to give it about twenty minutes or so depending on the amount of flowers you have – your kitchen will start to smell heavenly pretty soon and I think you’ll know when it’s good and done. I wouldn’t go longer than half an hour personally; if you overdo it you will have a very weak hydrosol.
I have also kept the water the flowers were cooking in (pictures in last photo – your hydrasol will be clear). I strained it through a muslin into a bowl and then decanted it into jars. Not sure what I’m using it for yet – it is good for skin so as a facial refresher in a spritz spray or just a mild toner. It can be used for cooking too – there is an amazing looking recipe for Rosewater, Cardamon and Ginger biscuits I’ll post up soon.
Finally I use the hydrosol as a toner but it can be used as a very mild cleanser in between nights off from the Oil Cleansing Method which – if you didn’t know about it already – is a fantastic skincare routine which I’ll detail soon.