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Copper Alembic Still and Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy book

Hydrosols used to be quite a popular item – even more so than essential oils, if you can believe that! You’ve probably heard of rose water, lilac water, lavender water; these are all hydrosols if produced through the distillation process. Hydrosols are not limited to flowers alone; most herbs can be made into a hydrosol to draw out its medicinal properties. The instructions below come from Rosemary Gladstar’s book I referenced in the video, but I’ve also experimented with a slightly different method, which I’ll also talk about. Spoiler: I found the second method made a stronger scented and tasting hydrosol, but produced much less quantity.

Making Hydrosol at Home (1st method)

Equipment

  • non-reactive pot (I used a stock pot)
  • brick, flat rock, or, in my case, a small fine mesh strainer/flour sifter)
  • glass lid without a vent hole
  • glass bowl small enough to fit into the pot, to catch the hydrosol water
  • stove top burner

Ingredients

  • purified water
  • herb(s) of choice (I did several distillations: mint, lemon balm and comfrey. I also experimented with a combination of mint, lemon balm and hops)
  • 2-3 trays of ice (you can place these in baggies, just keep an eye on them while they heat up)

Directions

  1. Place brick, rock or strainer (anything that is heat resistant to keep the bowl up will work) in pot
  2. Place herb around the brick until it is just above the level of the brick
  3. Place bowl on brick
  4. Carefully pour the water into the pot (not the bowl) until the herbs are submerged
  5. Cover with lid and place ice on the lid
  6. Heat water until steam begins to rise (the water will not be fully boiling, just simmering)
  7. You will see the water evaporate, hit the lid, cool down, and drip into the bowl

The distillation process took me about 20-30 minutes to complete. I discovered that if I let it go too much longer my water was much weaker. Once you are satisfied with the amount in the bowl, turn off the stove and allow the pot to cool. Remove the bowl carefully and pour contents into a glass jar (you can use amber or cobalt jars, but it’s not necessary). Label with the name of the hydrosol and date it was rendered, and store in the refrigerator. They say these can last for up to a year, but honestly I don’t think mine will be around that long!

Voila! Homemade hydrosol!

2nd method:

Equipment

  • steamer pot
  • glass lid without a vent hole
  • glass bowl small enough to fit into the pot, to catch the hydrosol water
  • stove top burner

Ingredients

  • purified water
  • herb(s) of choice
  • 2-3 trays of ice

Directions

  1. Fill bottom pot about 1/2 way
  2. Place steamer pot on top and add herbs, leaving a small “hole” in the middle for your glass bowl
  3. Place lid upside down and fill with ice cubes
  4. Bring water to a boil, then turn to low and continue to simmer

The steam will work its way through the herbs, hit the cold lid and drip into the bowl. I found this to be very effective, but it does capture less water. Repeat directions above once you have captured enough hydrosol.

I’ve decided I like the hydrosols so much that I purchased my own still for home use. Check out the video above to see this beauty in action! 🌼🌿

P.S. I read and recommend these books for their educational purposes, not the author’s religious beliefs. Please ignore what you don’t like and find the gems within.