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Hydrosols/Floral water


A hydrosol or floral water is the condensate/distilled water that is left over after the process of extracting an essential oil by water or steam distillation. Steam distillation

Hydrosols/floral waters are obtained via plant distillation using a water steam process. Two complementary products are a result of this distillation: the essential oil and floral water. The latter is, in fact, the steam collected, charged with certain molecules from the original plant that was distilled. Finally, once cooled, there is water condensation. The hydrolate (distilled aromatic water) is collected at the exit of the still, just like the essential oil, and it contains, in a naturally dissolved and less concentrated form, active components of the plant as its essential oil.

In conclusion, after the distillation of an aromatic plant (not necessarily floral part in some cases), two products can be obtained: the usually strong smelling essential oil and the subtle smelling floral water which will float on top of the former. This by-product offers a wide range of therapeutic and cosmetic benefits.

The quality of distillation – at a low temperature, low pressure and for a long enough duration – is reflected in the quality of the hydrosol as is the case for essential oils. It is important to verify if it is a genuine hydrosols, not to be confused with certain products presenting themselves in the form of water to which a small amount of essential oil is added, or worse, containing artificial aromas, therefore producing a product of inferior quality, without the same beneficial properties.

Hydrosol history

In some parts of the world, hydrosols have been used for centuries in home remedies and by practitioners of traditional medicine. In the western world until recently, hydrosols were often been treated as an unwanted by-product of distillation and discarded (with the exception of rose water). Their popularity and application is increasing together with the rising popularity of natural remedies and organic skincare.

Technically described as a distillate water, this type of fragrant co-product has been more recently referred to in aromatherapy as a hydrosol, hydrolate or hydrolat. Prior to this in the United Kingdom, all distillate waters were collectively known as ‘flower waters’ or ‘floral waters’, and the availability was usually restricted to just a popular few such as lavender, rose and orange flower.

The historic term of floral water is now seriously outdated since every essential oil extracted by a process of water or steam distillation produces a distillate water as a co-product. There are now a much larger selection of distillate waters produced from herbs, needles, leaves, woods, roots, barks and seeds widely available. So the term floral water is not consistent with these products and the name of hydrosol is being used somewhat inconsistently hence a more suitable name is plant distillate.

Until the Middle Ages the art of water distillation was employed specifically for the purpose of producing these precious aromatic waters, and amazingly, very little attention was paid to the precious essential oil that was produced.

Essential oils were utilised of course, but they were extracted by infusing the plant material in a vegetable oil until it had absorbed all of the healing properties of the volatile oils. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans are all known to have made great use of hydrosols for healing and aesthetic properties along with their infusions and unguents.

The precise time in history when distilled essential oils became popular in Europe is not known, but a renowned publication called ‘Liber De Arte Distillandi’ written by Hieronymus Brunschwig in Strassburg 1507 AD makes reference to only 4 essential oils.

Suffice to say that as essential oils became increasingly more popular, the use of hydrosols began to slowly decline. By the early 20th Century the healing benefits of these miracle waters were generally being ignored, with the precious hydrosols actually being thrown away after distilling the essential oil. The aromatic pendulum had now swung the other way, – but why is this, you may wonder?

Heavy water

It was the logistics of transportation that had caused this decline in interest, because the high shipping costs from the country of manufacture far outweighed any realistic commercial value for this relatively low value co-product.

The only exceptions were perhaps rose and orange ‘floral waters’ which were still quite popular up until the 1950’s, when they began to be replaced with cheaper synthetics in the U.K. Pharmacies had begun to sell a synthetic concentrate of rose or orange flower which was diluted at home and used in cake icing, cooking or salads.

It is only quite recently that there has been an increase in interest for these ready to use products, and this is of course great news. Unfortunately, newcomers to aromatherapy are often confused by the different terms used, leaving them unsure as to exactly what is, and what is not, a true hydrosol. And who can blame them, given the dubious practices of some less knowledgeable suppliers?

A softer substitute

Like essential oils, the aroma of a hydrosol although more subtle may vary from season to season even when it comes from the same geographical location. This is because the weather can have a dramatic effect on the plant whilst growing, and during seasons of extreme heat, rain or drought, the plants delicate chemistry is changed which in turn affects the fragrance of its essential oil.

In addition, the chemistry of a plant is affected by the soil that it is grown in, therefore the aroma of a particular essential oil or hydrosol will be different according to its country of origin. These slight variations can often be an indication that a hydrosol is natural, and not man-made.

Aroma-therapeutic uses

Hydrosols are highly versatile and can be used for personal care and around the house. In skincare, Rose, Orange Blossom (Neroli) and Lavender hydrosols are great for hydrating dry skin and cooling hot and sensitized skin. If you have been out in the sun too long and got burned, Lavender hydrosol is soothing and comforting as well as healing. Used in the final rinse after shampooing hydrosols help to condition hair and add a shine.

We know of no better remedy for puffy, dark circles under the eyes than Chamomile hydrosol. Just soak two cotton wool pads with the hydrosol and cover each eye for around 10 minutes for an immediate and dramatic reduction in puffiness. Regular use can help diminish those dreaded dark circles too.

Perfect for summer

During the summer hydrosols are perfect to use as a cooling body mist, and the most cooling of all is Peppermint. Make sure you take some with you to use on holidays, on the beach and even to cool those aching tootsies when you are out shopping! Hydrosols help to revitalise you when your energies are beginning to flag, and a few sprays onto a tissue makes a handy wet-wipe for all sorts of applications including babies and grubby children.

To calm a restless baby try adding a few tablespoons of Lavender or Chamomile hydrosol into their bathwater. This can be especially beneficial if your baby is suffering from nappy rash or eczema, because the soothing properties of these hydrosols help calm the irritation and speed up the healing process.

Hydrosols are quite safe to use on young children, and since they only contain a small amount of essential oil they do not need diluting much further except as above when using with very young babies.

Hydrosols such as Rose or Neroli can be added to the final rinse water in your washing cycle as well as used as a fragrant linen spray whilst ironing since they smell much nicer than their synthetic counterparts. Around the house, hydrosols are great to freshen the air instead of using aerosols which of course are harmful to the environment.

Hydrosol uses

Hydrosols are essentially used to create facial toners and other skin products. They can also be used for bathing, or as a light cologne or body spray. Some of the most commonly used hydrosols include –

  • Rose
  • Roman chamomile
  • Neroli
  • Lavender

Hydrosols/floral water can all be used as toners, but each has several of its own unique perks as well. The Rose hydrosol acts as a gentle moisturizer for sensitive skin, a mist for skin and hair and even as a home fragrance. Lavender hydrosol can be applied to blemishes to reduce inflammation and, like Rose hydrosol , can also be used to refresh your home with an ultra-calming aroma. Chamomile hydrosol helps reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles and can alleviate itchy eyes when used with a warm compress. Orange Blossom hydrosol calms blotchy, red skin with its vitamin-rich formula.

Storage of Hydrosols

Hydrosols should be packaged in dark/opaque bottles, as, like essential oils, they are sensitive to light and heat.


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Deciding Which: a Hydrosol or an Essential Oil?

Deciding Which: a Hydrosol or an Essential Oil?

Cristin McDonnell has studied Ayurvedic medicine and brings her interest in healing to our work here at Harms Vineyards and Lavender Fields. This is one of a series of her blogs on healing.

I was in the process of writing this blog when my mom called. I explained that I was trying to write about when is it best to use either an essential oil or a hydrosol. My mom said, “Wait, what about people like me who are not familiar with either?”

I was a bit reluctant to write about the difference between an essential oil and a hydrosol, as there is already so much information out there on both. Then I remembered the words of the Ayurvedic practitioner I studied with: repetition, repetition, repetition.  So, if you are already familiar with both, then I guess a little review never hurts, right?

An essential oil and a hydrosol are both products of plant distillation. The essential oil is the concentrated oil from distillation and contains the oil soluble constituents, whereas the hydrosol is the water based product of the distillation process with tiny bits of the oil in suspension within it. It contains the water-soluble constituents.  Consumers will be happy to know that when they purchase a hydrosol, they are getting a 100% distilled product.  Hydrosols can not be manufactured synthetically in a laboratory.

My curiosity in writing this blog came from wanting to understand people’s preference in using one or the other. I love both. The aromatic you chose will certainly depend on your purpose for using the product. Then comes choosing which form, the oil or a hydrosol?

In my Ayurvedic studies, treatment  wasn’t just a matter of learning the patient’s symptom and then prescribing an herb. It was a matter of getting to know your patient as a whole and understanding the patient’s reason for the consultation on both a physical and emotional level.

The same thought process can be applied when deciding whether to use a hydrosol or an essential oil.  Knowing yourself, your skin type, and your purpose for choosing either product, will guide you in your choice. Patients that I have talked with have said that either the hydrosol or oil has given them not only a physical healing, but also an emotional healing. When you make these choices,  you really are thinking of yourself holistically.

Some patients prefer hydrosols because they are typically the more sensitive of the two products.  Both the essential oils and hydrosols are anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, but because of the water component, hydrosols are often more tolerable. Some find the water component makes the hydrosol soothing and refreshing. Examples of sensitive skin issues where a hydrosol may be a better choice, include treating second degree burns,  and treating children and older patients.

Another patient, who typically prefers hydrosols over essential oils, suffers from a wrist injury that has been on-going for months.  In treating the injury to her wrist, she found the essential oil to be a more soothing option.  This is a great example in knowing yourself and what your body needs to heal.

As I mentioned before, I personally use both. There are many reasons that I use lavender essential oil, but one reason is that I am sensitive to perfumes. I can wear a fragrant essential oil without the sensitivity or headaches that perfumes give me. I prefer hydrosols for treating skin conditions that appear on my face.

When deciding between using an essential oil or a hydrosol, first think about your purpose and then give yourself a quick, holistic health examination. Consider your mind, body, spirit and then proceed to the most suitable choice of aromatherapy.

Source: 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, by Jeanne Rose

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Activated Charcoal Face Mask

Below are a few recipes ( actually similar variants) for charcoal face mask Do not wear light color clothing!

Activated charcoal is a well-known toxin remover, making this mask both cleansing and soothing for your skin and pores.

non-metal mixing bowl
wooden or plastic mixing utensil
cosmetic or other brush

1/2 teaspoon activated charcoal  
1/2 teaspoon  bentonite clay   
1/4 teaspoon  virgin coconut oil  
1/4 teaspoon  virgin avocado oil  
1 teaspoon  water   
How To Make A Charcoal Mask
1.In a small non-metal bowl, mix together all ingredients with a wooden or plastic spoon.
2.Use a cosmetic or other brush to apply the mixture to your face. Be careful to avoid your eyes and mouth.
3.Let the mask sit on your face until it dries, then remove it with a warm washcloth, rinse your face with cool water, and pat dry.

I added a drop or two of eucalyptus. I also made more than the recipe called for and put the remainder in the ‘fridge for next week.


Charcoal Mask Ingredients
1 tea spoon bentonite clay
1 teaspoon  activated charcoal powder
2 teaspoon  water
½ teaspoon  raw honey
1 drop each tea tree and lavender essential oil (optional)

How To Make A Charcoal Mask
1.In a small glass bowl add the water and essential oil.
2.Sprinkle the bentonite clay over the top of the water mixture in the bow. Allow it to absorb for a about 10 seconds before adding the rest of the ingredients. This makes the mixture easier to combine.
3.Use a small rubber spatula to mash and mix everything together. The clay will want to stay lumpy, so this takes a few minutes to mix thoroughly. You’ll have enough mixture here for 2 face masks.
4.Once your mask is mixed, apply it liberally to your face. Allow it to dry, about 10 minutes, before washing off with soap and warm water.

Note: This mask is meant to be used in one use and will not store well, as it does not contain preservatives.

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Red Palm Oil

The Oil Palm

The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis jacq.) is a species of palm that originates from West Africa in particular the area between Angola and Gambia. It is a perennial, tropical tree crop that starts bearing fruits in large bunches, weighing between 5-30kg each, after 30 months of field planting.

The oil palm fruitlets from the bunches (known as fresh fruit bunches) are unique as each produces two types of edible vegetable oil; palm oil from the mesocarp (flesh of the fruit) and palm kernel oil from the kernel (seed). Both are edible oils but with very different chemical compositions, physical properties and applications.

Each fruit bunch will produce 20-25% oil at the mill. For every 10 tonnes of palm oil produced at the mill, 1 tonne of palm kernel oil is produced when the kernel is crushed.

The oil palm keeps producing the fruit bunches until the end of its economic lifespan of between 25-30 years. This remarkable agronomic characteristic allows the oil palm to provide a consistent and uninterrupted supply of vegetable oils to meet ever-increasing global demand

What is palm oil?

Palm oil, like olive oil, is a fruit oil. It is the only vegetable oil that contains an equal proportion of unsaturated and saturated fatty acids. It is particularly rich in saturated palmitic acid (44%), and monounsaturated oleic acid (40%). Palm oil is also naturally very stable because of its low content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (10%), in addition to its Vitamin E content.

Is palm oil similar to palm kernel oil?

No. Palm oil comes from the mesocarp or flesh of the oil palm fruit while palm kernel oil comes from the kernel or seed. In terms of uses, palm oil is mainly used for edible purposes, while palm kernel oil is generally used for non-edible purposes such as making soaps, cosmetics and detergents. In addition, palm kernel oil has specialised applications in confectionery fats, or cocoa butter substitute (CBS) and cocoa butter equivalent (CBE).

Red Palm Oil (RPO)

Why are certain palm oil products red in colour?

Crude palm oil is very rich in plant pigments called carotenoids, which give the oil a natural distinct orange-red colour. In conventional refining process, all the carotenoids in crude palm oil are removed; giving the refined oil a golden-yellow colour. Thanks to an innovative technology introduced by the Malaysian palm oil industry, the healthful natural carotenoids (along with Vitamin E) in the oil are retained in the refined product marketed as red palm oil.

Red palm oil (RPO) is the only commercially-available vegetable oil that contains substantial amounts of carotenoids (about 550 μg/g) and Vitamin E (600 μg/g) comprising tocotrienols (65%) and alpha-tocopherols (35%).

Some of the carotenoids in RPO are converted to vitamin A in our body; the rest of the carotenoids, together with vitamin E (particularly tocotrienols), are reported to play a vital role in advanced nutrition – boosting the immune system, scavenging damaging reactive oxygen species in our body, and are involved in complex mechanisms, which have evolved to protect the body from chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancers of the breast and skin.

How much red palm oil (RPO) does it take to supply the RDA for Vitamin A?

 The carotenoid content of RPO is higher than that in tomatoes, with beta-carotene (60%) and alphacarotene (30%) forming the two main pro-Vitamin A carotenoids. As a potential source of Vitamin A, RPO provides about 7,000 retinol equivalents (RE) per 100 grams. This means that one teaspoon (6 grams) of RPO will supply the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A for a child (350-400 RE), while double this amount (12 grams) would supply the RDA for an adult (800 RE).The body converts whatever Vitamin A it needs (on top of pre-formed Vitamin A from foods of animal origin) from pro-Vitamin A carotenoids, so there is no danger of excess conversion.


Tocotrienols, like tocopherols, are members of the Vitamin E family. Both can exist in the alpha-, beta-, gamma- or delta-forms called isomers.Vitamin E (both tocotrienols and tocopherols) in food can have any combination of these eight isomers.

Polyunsaturated edible oils are liquids and would need to be first “hardened” by hydrogenation in order that they may attain the semi-solid nature for manufacture of food products such as margarines, shortenings, vegetable ghee, confectionery, and bakery products.

During the hydrogenation process carried out at high temperatures, the fatty acids in these oils are transformed into the trans fatty acids (TFAs) which are harmful to health. Such hydrogenated fats, containing TFAs, are also referred to as “trans fats”.

What are the dietary sources of tocotrienols?

Palm oil is rich in Vitamin E tocotrienols. Tocotrienols are also found in rice bran oil. Corn oil, soybean oil canola oil and sunflower oil do not contain Vitamin E tocotrienols.

What is so special about tocotrienols?

Tocotrienols act as more powerful antioxidants than tocopherols. Scientific research conducted in the United States and elsewhere has demonstrated that tocotrienols have remarkable health effects. Tocotrienols protect against free radical – induced oxidative stress.
Consumption of tocotrienols is associated with cardioprotective effects, skin health, anti-cancer and cancer suppression properties, and neuroprotection.

1.      Palm oil is one of Nature’s richest sources of Vitamin E tocotrienols and pro-Vitamin A carotenoids.

2.    It is cholesterol-free. Studies have shown that palm olein (liquid portion of palm oil) and olive oil have similar beneficial effects on plasma cholesterol levels.

3.    Additionally, animal and cell-culture studies have found that palm tocotrienols inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer.

4.    Stable at high temperatures, palm olein is the ideal choice for household and industrial frying as it is less prone to oxidation.

5.     Palm oil is also odourless and neutral in flavour, thus preserving the natural taste of food.

6.    Unlike other vegetable oils, palm oil is naturally semi- solid at room temperature; it does not require hydrogenation and is therefore free of trans fats.

7.     Used in popular shampoo, conditioning and soap products, toothpaste. Palm oil derivatives can be found in body lotions, night creams, deodorants, shaving products and other cosmetics.

8.    Palm oil is one of the 17 edible oils cited by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) / World Health Organisation (WHO) Food Standard under the CODEX Alimentarius Commission Programme.


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African Black Soap & Skin Care Tips

You may be wondering what is special about the African black Soap whether it’s in bar, paste or liquid form. By the way, similar to Shea butter, it used to be a must have back then in west Africa until the quest for modernization and the fact that the producers then did not evolve quickly pushed it off the shelves.

It was usually sold in cake form and depending on household size, you could buy a half kilo form wrapped in leaves or paper that our mother would then cut portions for use.

The natural black soap is not black in color , it is usually a kind of dark brownish color as a result of the ash used instead of lye.

Typical ingredients include : Shea butter, palm kernel oil, palm oil, cocoa pod ash/banana skin ash/palm bunch ash, coconut oil, wild honey, cam-wood etc.

The plant ash serves as the natural lye (Potassium carbonate) which is very gentle on the skin and hair.

Now the choice of oils or plant ash depends on the what is available locally hence the variation in hardness, lather and sometimes color but it does not take away the fact that it’s 100% natural.

There are modern day variants like Dudu Osun which include Aloe vera, Lime Juice and Fragrance. Otherwise, African black soap should not have artificial colors added and should not be solid black color.

The African black soap helps deep cleans, nourish, protects and refreshes the skin. It is used for bathing and hair wash.

And if you find the bars drying, then try the paste or the liquid forms as they are made for more sensitive skins.

Will leave you with below formula from one our esteemed customer (thanks Dessi!). In her own exact writing;

“Absolute must have!!! I can’t imagine using anything else as a face wash. Here is how I prepare my Black African Soap FACE WASH:”

200 ml Distilled water/Rose water
2-3 TBSP Black African Soap
3 drops Tea tree oil
5 drops Lavender

Enjoy is and Pass it on.

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Shea Butter Experience

It is only natural that the first blog should revolve around our premier product. Two years ago (August 2014), we started this online portal with unrefined Shea butter (Ivory & Yellow) and African black soap.

Growing up in West Africa, Shea butter is a must for any household, applied on new born babies instead of modern formulas. After sustaining light injuries while playing in the neighborhood it applied on strains and muscle aches and my grand parents like to apply it all over the body before going to bed usually mixed with mint/eucalyptus oils especially during the cold weather.

Yes, you might say it is not so soft, yes back then it’s mostly softened with coconut oil and applied on all parts of the body (hair & body).

Briefly, I will try to answer a few questions we often get about Shea butter, first is about the colour. The most “natural” colour of Shea butter is the ivory/off white or beige colour. To make the yellow, a root dye is from borututu tree (Cochlospermum angolensis) is added. By the way this tree has tremendous medical benefits also. When only this dye is added, then the ivory and yellow have the same qualities. However, some unscrupulous individuals add some other chemical additives to create deeper yellow color, which in any case changes colour after a few months.

Second question is about Shea butter being organic or not. Shea butter (Karite tree) grows in the wild hence there is no concept of organic farming. What you can have is “organic” collection of the nuts. More importantly for me is the fair trade where the local communities usually women that produce the shea butter are adequately compensated.

I will leave you with below simple recipe based on what I grew up with that is good for both the hair and dry skin type

170gm Shea butter

50gm Virgin Coconut oil

Any choice of essential oil (20 drops)

Empty clean jar

Melt unrefined Shea butter on the steam using double pot.  Put it out of the steam and add the coconut oil while mixing it. When cooled a little bit, Use a hand mixer to whip in Air. Put it in a clean jar and let it cool down on the room temperature. The  Shea butter recipe is now ready to use. Keep it in an airtight glass container.

Do leave comments with formulas that work for you.