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Hydrosol Storage Tips and Guidelines

Hydrosols are the natural aromatic water (condensed vapor turns into liquid called distillate or hydrosol = hydro solution), resulting from the steam distillation of plants to obtain essential oils. Like essential oils they carry the beneficial properties of the plant they are distilled from but have only traces of essential oil and  less natural preservative molecules. Hydrosols are also used for their molecular characteristics, their phototherapeutic benefits.  They have many applications in wellbeing, natural skin care and are used in cooking.

Hydrosols come charged with the plant hydro soluble aromatic molecules. Hydrosols are 99,9% water-based natural extracts and,  compared to their essential oil’s counterparts, they are less stable, more prone to bacterial contaminations and must be properly handled and stored. 

Store your hydrosols away from direct sunlight and ideally in a dark location
Direct sunlight, UV rays and heat are especially degrading to hydrosols. Ideally, keep your hydrosol bottles in their eOil original packaging and in a cool cupboard.

Keep your bottle tightly closed and use the spray to apply.
Oxygen and bacterial contacts are a contamination risk to your unpreserved high-water content products and hydrosols are no exception. That is why all our eOil’s hydrosols come in a spray bottle, with a cap. A convenient and safe way to keep the integrity of your product. To use your hydrosol, simply remove the cap and directly spray onto the skin, a cotton bud, or in a clean spoon. That way you don’t have to constantly open and close your bottle and your fingers, cotton balls or other items will not come into direct contact with the bottle content.

Refrigerate or keep your hydrosols in cool places away from heat sources.
Hydrosols can be refrigerated (not frozen) not only to prolong their shelf life, but also to provide you with a fresher feeling on application.

About Unpreserved/Preservative-free vs Preserved Hydrosols.

A properly made hydrosol- that is, obtained by steam distillation of the plant - is bottled under sterile conditions. When extracted for commercial distribution by reputable, responsible, and respected producers/distillers, the hydrosol must also be microbiologically tested to ensure the absence of contaminants. Under those strict conditions, a hydrosol can naturally last from 12 to 36 months from manufacturing date, depending of course on the nature of the plant it is extracted from and, if dispatched swiftly and locally, does not need further preservation.

But most growers, distillers and producers distribute their high-quality natural extracts nationwide or even globally. For them, selling preservative-free, fragile hydrosols is often not even viable. In EU countries and in the UK, Hydrosol must be sold with added preservatives, by law.

Some of our Hydrosols are preserved directly after distillation, on site, by the producers. Aromatics distillers do so to extend the shelf life of this highly valuable, but more fragile natural plant extract, and to guarantee their integrity. 

We have selected producers who choose citric acid, plant alcohol (grain ethanol) or Euxyl K712, all natural preservatives and all Ecocert and Cosmos approved. 

eOil’s hydrosols that are not preserved at the distillery, remain preservative-free. 


SO, which one is better?

It depends on the end use. 

To take the easy example of fresh pressed orange juice vs preserved orange juice

If you buy a fresh pressed orange juice from a reliable source, or even press it yourself at home, you will want to enjoy it on the spot or, if not, you will keep it refrigerated, drink or use it within the next day before it loses all its vitaminated properties or/and turns bad.

If you buy a fresh bottled  orange juice from your grocery shop, to keep and enjoy at your leisure, that “fresh” orange juice contains preserving agent(s) of some kind. It will also come with recommendations to be consumed under a week once opened, kept refrigerated and tightly closed.

Conclusion: All fresh products, especially those with a high-water content have a  limited shelf life. Ensuring their safe consumption for longer periods of time requires preservation.

Unpreserved hydrosols, are good for direct end users, for regular or daily personal applications, in aromatherapy diffusions and in sprays

Unpreserved hydrosols come with the recommendation that they must be used in 6 months’ time after opening (contact with air). This is easily achievable since hydrosols are meant to be applied regularly and used daily (as face toner, refresher, for diffusion or steam inhalation…) 

If your aim is to use the most untouched, unadulterated plant extracts, you may prefer to choose unpreserved hydrosols. It is then very important to look for the highest quality available, use the hydrosol (or the blend created with it) daily and apply good hygienic standards (clean hands and supports).

Preservative-free Hydrosol can last you up to 2 years, provided they are handled and stored in a proper and hygienic way.  Use them within 6 months.

Preserved hydrosols are better for applications or in formulations that are meant to last longer. 

From a home or small-scale business/formulator context (making cosmetics to resell), using unpreserved hydrosols it is simply not safe nor is it viable. It would require constant testing to control signs of contamination in the final products. It would be costly in terms of resources and time. It would require selling cosmetics the same way fresh juices and fresh products are sold, from fridges and over very limited periods of times.

Preserved hydrosols are a good choice if you want a product that will have an extended shelf-life. 

Important Note About Hydrosols vs. floral waters and other plants “Waters”:

Marketing confusion has been ingrained into the general public’s minds to the point that people now assimilate any fragrant water with a Hydrosol.

1.The term Hydrosol refers exclusively to the product obtained when steam-distilling aromatic plant material. Leaves, stems, roots, or flowers. At the end of the distillation process, 2 products are obtained: One is the highly concentrated Essential oil of the plant, the other is the hydrosol, which is in fact the condensed steam turned into an aromatically charged liquid, the distillate or hydrosol.

2.Although some hydrosols may come from the distillation of flowers, not all Hydrosols are “floral” distillates.

  1. The terms Floral waters, infused waters or Fragrant waters often indicate a blended product, created by combining distilled, spring or tap water with essential oils and a solvent or a dispersant (alcohol, glycerin). Water with added fragrances, even natural and organic, must not be mistaken with hydrosols. “Waters” aromatized or scented are used to make face & hair mists, body splashes, linen sprays, and other water-based fragrant products. 

A lot of floral water found on the market is made by mixing synthetic fragrances with water.

Check your product labels.

A pure, natural Hydrosol (and its label) should contain just the name of the plant (Common and Latin name), the plant part it is extracted from along with its unique method of obtention, that is steam-distillation.

A  natural aromatized water will read: water(Aqua), essential oil(s) with the plant name(s) and, since water and oil don’t mix, the name of the agent used to bind the two or to dissolve the essential oil(s) ( it could be Ethanol/alcohol or Vegetable glycerin).

Enjoy your Hydrosol,

The eOil Team


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