Artistic Anachronism




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How to Make Hydrosol at Home

By Alison Sheehan-Dion, 2009

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Author's Note: It has been brought to my attention that a few pictures would greatly enhance this information. We will try and improvise a few pictures soon, and when we make our rose hydrosol again next year we'll get better ones!

A Hydrosol is a flower water. It is made by using steam to extract the fragrance from fresh flowers. To make your own at home, try this technique. We use it for roses and it works wonderfully!

Things you'll need:

  • A large pot, like a lobster pot.
  • A brick or flat stone that will fit in the bottom of the pot, leaving space around on all sides.
  • A small to medium bowl that can sit on the brick, in the bottom of the pot, leaving space on all sides.
  • A very large bowl that completely covers the top of the pot and doesn't allow air, or steam to escape.

One to two days before you plan to do the hydrosol, fill the large bowl with water and place it in the freezer. Wait until it is a completely solid block of ice before proceeding.

1. Go out and pick a large bunch of fragrant flowers in the early morning. Roses work particularly well, but any fragrant flowers should work. (Note: Peonies did not work for us. This may be because the flowers do not contain sufficient oil to have their scent steam expressed or possibly because the boil was too hot.)

2. Separate the flowers from any leaves or stems.

3. Place the brick into the large pot, and add water to just below the top of the brick, tThen put the pot on the stove.

4. Bring the water to a GENTLE simmer.

5. Add the flowers (after removing any stems and greenery) to the water, and place the small bowl, with nothing in it, on top of the brick.

6. Place the large, ice filled bowl over the pot and allow the mixture to simmer, again GENTLY. A full bubbling boil will likely take all your precious scent oils away in the steam!

How it works:

The simmering water causes steam to form in the pot. The steam contains the volatile oils from the flowers that are in the water.

As the steam forms, it rises, and it comes into contact with the bottom of the ice filled bowl. Because the ice filled bowl fills the opening, there is no place for the steam to escape. What happens next makes perfect sense - the steam condenses on the ice filled bowl surface, and creates water drips that roll down the surface of the bown, and drip into the empty bowl below.

This is why the small bowl was left empty!

Keep an eye on the entire process, adding hot water if necessary (although it really shouldn't be necessary).

Once the steam-water has nearly filled the small bowl, turn off the heat. Allow the condensed collection to sit and cool, with the large bowl in place above it. This will allow you to trap all the precious flower water as the steam cools.

After the small bowl has cooled, pour the flower water into a clean glass bottle or jar and refrigerate. It may take up to 24 hours before the result smells like don't throw it away before you allow time for it to cool and develop it's scent! (We did this once before we found out that it changes as it cools.)

Keep the flower water refrigerated until ready to use. This will extend it's shelf life.

Try using a cold spray mister of rose water made this way to cool your self off on a hot summer day - it is absolute heaven!

Or save your mister as an after bath splash for an icy winter day. It will transport you back to the magic of your summer garden!

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