Monday, March 28, 2011

Try DIY: Make your own hydrosol at home

While doing research on hydrosols for my own personal interest, I found out that I could make them at home.  Sounded easy, so I gathered the ingredients and went to work. 

Many ounces of herbs, the destruction of one pan and many squares of cheesecloth and coffee filters later, I got the hang of it!  Seriously, it is not hard to do and you could have your very own hydrosols in as little as an hour. 

The instructions make it seem harder than it really is, so do not be discouraged. 

I Googled this topic to find the instructions before I ventured into making them, but after a series of trials and errors, I can give you MY instructions, tell you what to expect and what NOT TO DO.  More after the break...

Here we go!  I will try to make it as short and to the point as I can.  Make sure to read all the way through the directions before you start.  I give you two ways to do things.  With one set you can start making hydrosols right now and with the other set you prep now, but cannot follow through until the next day. 


  • Dried herbs/dried plant material of your choice. I use 2 ounces. 
  • A large stainless steel or enamel pot.
  • A smaller stainless steel or enamel pot.  This has to fit over the opening of the larger pot like a lid.  The fit has to be snug so that no steam escapes.
  • A small enamel, stainless steel or glass bowel.  Make sure it is heat safe.
  • A brick or flat rock.
  • Distilled water.
  • Ice.
  • Coffee filter or cheesecloth.
  • Couple of clean jars or bottles.
  • Potholders. 

  • Inside the large pot place the brick/flat rock.
  • Place the dried herbs/dried plant material around the brick/flat rock.
  • Pour in enough distilled water to cover the dried herbs/dried plant material.
  • On top of the brick/flat rock place the small bowl.
Now here is where the directions can go one of two days:
  • You can take the stainless steel or enamel bowl/pot (the one to be used as a lid) and fill it with water and put in the freezer overnight.  This is what I do.
  • You could take the stainless steel or enamel bowl/pot (the one to be used as a lid)  and fill with ice.  Do not use ice cubes as these melt too fast. 
Directions continued....
  • Put pot on top of the larger pot.  There should be a good space between the bottom of the "lid" and the small bowl inside.  Make sure that the fit is snug.  You do not want any steam to escape. 
  • Simmer the herbs.  This process can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on how high you have the temperature.  I always use a low to medium heat. 
  • After the allotted time has passed, turn off the stove eye, but do not remove the "lid" just yet.  Condensation will continue to form until the pots have sufficiently cooled down.
  • Be careful when removing the "lid" from the pot.  There will be steam inside.  Use the potholders to remove the bowl from inside. 

When the water simmers it creates heat.  This heat hits the bottom of the pot filled with ice.  Since this pot is cold, it creates condensation and drops back down into the smaller bowl that you have put on the brick/rock.

This liquid inside the smaller bowl is the hydrosol. 

When you look at the liquid inside of the bowl, the oil floating on the top is the essential oil from the plant. 

  • You may want to take the liquid and pass it through the coffee filter or cheesecloth to make sure that all plant matter is removed.  If this plant matter is left in the hydrosol it can mold and ruin your hydrosol. 
  • You can place the hydrosol in a jar and apply to your face with a cotton ball, or you can place it in a bottle with a sprayer.  Keep refrigerated. 
  • Make sure that you use dried herbs/dried plant material.
  • Make sure you keep an eye on the pots.  Check the level of the ice. 
  • If you smell something amiss, make sure to check the pot.  I once did not put enough water in the cover the herbs and burned the herbs to the pot.  I did not realize this until I started smelling something burning.  This will affect the smell of the hydrosol, so I had to discard that too.
  • Make sure your pan is "thick" enough.  If you have a stainless steel pot that is on the thinner side, I would not use it.  Ice expands as it freezes, so it could make your pan bow out in places or crack it.  I destroyed a good stockpot this way.
  • You do not have to use expensive pots.  I use a $6.00 enamel pot that I got from a dollar store.  It makes a great "lid" and can withstand my freezing water in it. 
  • Lastly, do not get discouraged!!  If your first try fails, try it again.  It is quick, easy and best of all CHEAP!  I have made many hydrosols this way.  
If you decide to give it a try, I would love to hear how it turned out.  If you need a clarification on my directions, feel free to comment here and I WILL respond. 


  1. hi easy to follow recipe.
    I will try it tom ").
    what if i use fresh vegetable like cucumber? it has a tightening effect on the skin. are lemon and orange peels ok to use? what about guava leaves? guavas have anticeptic properties.

  2. Hi!! Thanks for your comment. I have never tried to make cucumber, lemon or orange peel hydrosols. I always use dry plant matter/herbs, so I can only speak to that.

    If you do try this, please let me know. I am very interested in hearing how this turns out

  3. Peel and slice the cucumber. Dehydrate it in the oven or in a dehydrator. Use that.

  4. I am making a batch as we speak. I needed 1 cup to make a face cream and since its the dead of winter, I used what I had on hand, based on a list I saw elsewhere. I have read dried and fresh herbs can be used. I picked sage out of my garden, used about a foot-long piece of dried rosemary, zest (no pith) of one orange, and one grapefruit, some dried lavendar, a few large sprigs of eucalyptus, and some dried rose geranium. I broke it all u with my fingers and tried to "bruise" it as best as I could. I meant to add some cedar, but I forgot. I know its a big mix, but I didn't have enough of any single plant. I also had to start with ice cubes because I didn't plan ahead enough. I have it on low, been about 20 min. Ice hasn't fully melted yet. Have more freezing in the freezer. So far I seem to have maybe 1/3-1/2 C. in the inner bowl? I am finding it difficult to get an estimate of how long I should simmer the herbs or how much I should expect to get?

  5. Thanks for checking out my blog! I am sorry that it has taken me awhile to get back to you. Life has been rolling right along and sadly, no matter how hard I try, I do not have as much time for my blog as I previously did.

    I have not made any hydrosols in quite some time, but when I did I found the resulting amount to differ with each batch. It would range from a few ounces to half a jar.

    I simmered the herbs until the ice was melted.

    I think the amount of ice determines how much hydrosol you will get. If you use a handful of ice that melts quickly, you will get a smaller amount of hydrosol. If you use a larger amount of ice that takes longer to melt, you will get more hydrosol.

    Trial and error will be your best teacher. I hope this has helped. Please let me know how they turned out!


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