Hydrosols are a by-product of steam distillation. They are also called floral waters or hidrolats and basically consist of distilled water and small amounts of essential oil. Cistus Ladanifer Hydrosol is not any different; it is obtained by distilling the leafs and twigs of Cistus Ladanifer by steam distillaton. To be more precise, Cistus Ladanifer hydrosol can also be called a hidrolat, but not floral water, as the Cistus flowers are usually not distilled.
As described in the chapter regarding the Cistus Ladanifer essential oil, the process of steam distillation uses heat, water and plant material. The steam passes through the condenser to cool and liquify and then it flows into the essencier to separate the essential oil from the water. The water that remains after the separation from the essential oil is the hydrosol.
Hydrosols can contain more or less essential oil, depending on the type of plant used, the lenght of distillation and the distillation process itself. The hydrosol mentioned above is the regular hydrosol, which has been separated from the oil. This separation is never absolute, as any hydrosol always contains small traces of essential oil. However, one can also produce hydrosols that do not go through the separation process. Instead of using a essencier, the distiller simply collects – and filters – the liquid that is flowing our of the condenser. In this case, all the oil is left within the hydrosol, thus enriching the final product.
Another relevant factor in producing hydrosols is the ratio of plant material used. Depending on the type of hydrosol that we wish to produce, we can use more or less plant material. Some aromatherapists only want hydrosols produced on a 1:1 ratio; this means that for every 1 Liter of hydrosol 1 KG of plant material is used. Other aromatherapists may prefer hydrosols with a regular ratio of 1 KG to 4 Liters or even other ratios.
Last but not least, the distillation time is also important. The longer the process takes, the less intense the hydrosol will gradually be. With the passing of time and the passing of steam through the plant material, the aromatic compounds contained in the plant material will become less and less. It is crucial to know when to stop the distillation process so that the hydrosol will be of good quality.
Hydrosols have been gaining popularity in recent years by both aromatherapists and individual users alike. They are good alternative or complement to essential oils because they are not as concentrated as essential oils. Most hydrosols can be applied directly to the skin without the need to be diluted. Furthermore, at least in our case, we do not add any preservatives or additives to the hydrosol. For this reason, our hydrosols should always be kept in a dry and cool place and away from sunlight.
With regards to Cistus Ladanifer hydrosol in particular, we recommend that you consult your aromatherapist and/or the book by Susanne Catty “Hydrosols-The next Aromatherapy”, from which the following quotes are taken:
[Cistus Ladanifer Hydrosol is] “… Herbaceous, quite dry, and warm in both scent and flavor, it’s difficult to describe but I ilke it.”
Regarding stability and shef life, Catty mentions: “ Very stable. Generally rock rose has a long life, two years or more without problems…”