Hydrolate uses hydro, "water" and late, from the French Lait, for "milk". When a hydrolate first comes off the still, and often for some time afterward, it will be slightly milky, owing to the quantity and nature of various plant substances and essential oils dissolved in the water.
All of these terms are basically interchangeable, and to avoid boredom they will all be used throughout these pages. However, I should say that I am less fond of the term flower or floral waters for a number of reasons. First, hydrosols do not just come from flowers any more than essentials come only from flowers. Roots, bark, branches, wood, needles, and leaves, even fruit and seeds can produce both oils and hydrosols. thus hydrosols are not strictly "flower" or "floral" waters.
I would propose the following definition for aromatherapy purposes "Hydrosols are the condensate water coproduced during the steam -or hydro-distillation of plant material for aromatherapeutic purposes" A longer definition would add : "Usually the distillation is undertaken specifically to produce the plant water that results.
Hydrosol production should use certified organic or pesticide- and chemical -free, plant material harvested in a sustainable manner and composed of one distinct identifiable botanical species only.
The distillation should be slow and under low or atmospheric pressure over sustained periods and use pure uncontaminated water to preserve all the therapeutic components of the plant material, with an intention that the products produced be for therapeutic use without further processing."
Although hydrosols have been around for as long as distillation has and may even have been the intended product for which distillation was invented, their use in aromatherapy is still quite new. But bearing in mind that all essential-oil production has hydrosols as a coproduct, it is safe to assume that as interest continues to grow the variety and availability of these products will also grow
I have received samples of no fewer than twenty "new" hydrosols in the past six months alone.
I also think of hydrosols as holograms of the plant. The concept of the inte-rconnectedness of the entire universe is not new, and it shows up everywhere, from quantum physics to Amazonian shamanic practice.
Viewing this inter-connectedness as one big hologram, where every tiny part actually contains all the information of the whole, seems perfectly reasonable. In holistic health we view the body as a whole, all parts affected by each other and all parts equally affected by the world in which we live.
Now go one step further and consider that the world in which we live is, in turn, affected by the universe in which it exists, and the universe is affected by whatever may be next up the ladder.
These are the basic concepts found throughout the religious and philosophical history, of humankind, even throughout our evolutionary history, some might say.
The term Holistic is derived from the word hologram. And the hologram is so clear that acupuncture has, for nearly five thousand years, seen the whole of the body in the ear; reflexology sees the body in the feet and hands, iridology in the eye; and researchers in Germany have developed a database that can scan the fingerprints of parents to look for any, nearly fifty distinctive patterns known to be linked to hereditary health problems.