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Herbal Waters or Distillates (Hydrosols)

Sagescript Institute will be offering herbal waters distilled from plants harvested from our own Antero Gardens this year. Our new stainless steel stills are able to capture this wonderful product from the plants. Herbal waters, sometimes called hydrosols are obtained by steam distillation of herbs or flowers. These herbal waters have been produced and used for centuries by many cultures.

Although they go by many other names (floral waters, hydrosols, hydrolates, herbal waters, toilet waters, aqua vitae), I use the word distillate because it represents the process by which these waters are obtained as well as  the alchemy that surrounds it's history. Also, in chemistry, the term hydrosol has other meanings. Much of the process of making and using herbal distillates was documented in Grace Firth's 1983 book entitled “Secrets of the Still. Currently, herbalist Jeanne Rose is championing the product.

The science of distillation is based on the fact that different substances vaporize at different temperatures.  Unlike other extraction techniques based on solubility of a compound in either water or oil, distillation will separate components regardless of their solubility. The distillate will contain compounds that vaporize at or below the temperature that water boils. The actually chemical components of distillates have not yet been fully identified, but distillate will contain essential oil compounds as well as organic acids. Compounds with a higher vaporization point will remain behind and will include many of the water soluble plant pigments and flavonoids.  

Herbal waters contain the beneficial products of essential oils plus more and in a less concentrated, safer form. Besides aromatic chemicals, these distillates also contain many of the plant acids making them skin friendly. With a pH between 5-6 they are great to use as facial toners. Cosmetics and toiletries makers are finding many uses for herbal distillates. Use them as part of your aqueous portion of lotions, creams and soaps. They can be used alone as toners or room sprays. Distillates are also used as flavorings and curables.

Because hydrosols are produced at high temperatures and are somewhat acidic, they tend to inhibit bacterial growth. They are not however sterile as many producers claim. They are a fresh product, like milk, and should be refrigerated. Distillates from Antero Gardens contain potassium sorbate, a food grade preservative to extend shelf life and to protect the consumer.  

Plants used are grown organically at high elevation then distilled at high elevation. High altitude distilling has been said to produce better distillates because the lower pressure allows lower temperatures which is more protective to the volatile phytochemicals.


Distillates currently available:

Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens Engelm) - a subtle woodsy (masculine) smell.   
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) Lemon balm should have a sweet, light, lemony aroma without being citrusy.  Lemon balm distillate has many skin benefits or it can be enjoyed diluted in a drink (but make sure to order it fresh without a preservative for drinking).

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Comfrey distillate, although not very aromatic, it has many skin benefits. Try spraying it on burned or irritated skin.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) This distillate has a potent catnip smell! It should be a great base for formulating insect repellants.

Coming Soon or available by special order:
Clary Sage
Winter Savory
Hyssop Officinalis
Sage
Juniper
Ponderosa Pine
Fennel

Distillates are shipped with potassiums sorbate/citric acid as preservative.
Supplies are limited during winter/spring months.

Price: $4.00 per 4 ounce
           $6.00 per 8 ounce
            $4.00 for 2 ounce blue spray bottle of distillate
Shipping/handling will be flat rate priority pricing at $8.10. (more for larger orders)
Payments can be made by PayPal to sagescript@earthlink.net or by check. Please contact us.
Large orders can be discounted.



For more information on distillates follow these links.
From Aromamedical by Martin Watt:
http://www.aromamedical.com/articles/hydrosols.htm
From Jeanne Rose:
http://www.aromaticplantproject.com/hydrosols.html

No much is known about the actual contents of distillates. But besides containing small amounts of essential oils, they also contain acidic aromatic components of the plant. Here is a link to the results of an assay on the contents of rose hydrosol:
http://www.aromamedical.com/articles/herbspreg.html