Simply put, hydrosols — also known as hydrolats, floral waters, and plant waters — are composed of water-soluble botanical constituents, microscopic amounts of essential oil, and water. They are an excellent way to get the aromatic properties and a gentle version of the therapeutic properties of essential oils in a water-based solution without the need for a solubilizer.
Hydrosols have been used in cosmetics for centuries and although the best known examples include rose water, orange blossom water, and lavender water, theoretically, any plant material can be used.
The aroma of basil is herbaceous greenness with a hint of anise. When applied to the skin, basil has some antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Peppermint is a very special herb. Not only is it an excellent expectorant and decongestant, it also works wonders for cooling the skin.
Collect a plate full of basil and peppermint. I gathered mine from the garden and took enough to fill up a dinner plate.
In a large pot, add a ramekin or a similar object to the bottom of the pot. You will add a heat resistant cup on the top of this to catch the water that will become the hydrosol.
Arrange the herbs on the bottom of the pan around the ramekin.
Add 1000 ml of water to the pot. Add a heat resistant container on top of the ramekin. This will catch the hydrosol as condenses at the top of the lid and drips back down.
Invert a lid over the top of the pot. I am using glass so you can see what is doing on. The most important part here is making sure there is a good seal between the pot and lid to limit the amount of steam that escapes. But be aware, using this method, you will almost certainly have some steam escape.
Turn heat on low and bring the water in a to to a simmer.
The key with creating a hydrosol is making sure to condense the water with the botanical extracts. We do this by cooling the hot steam that collects in the lid.
When the water starts boiling, place ice in a ziplock bag (or an ice pack) on top of the lid. This will cool the steam and allow the water droplets to drop into the container below.
Be prepared, this may take quite a bit of ice and will require a few refills of the ice bag until all the hydrosol is collected.
Continue simmering until most of the water from the pot has been turned into a hydrosol and is collected into the container below.
When finished, pour the hydrosol from the container in the pot to a sterilized jar. Seal and keep hydrosol in the fridge up to 7 days. Add a small amount of citric acid or a water soluble preservative to increase the shelf life.