If you’re not using aromatic waters called “hydrosols”, I strongly suggest you begin. They are affordable, easy to use, versatile and their therapeutic applications are a safe choice, especially for children and animals. I wrote an earlier blog post called What is a Hydrosol that will give you the basics.
Hydrosol Storage Guidelines
Because hydrosols are water-based, they are more fragile than essential oils. In fact, anything that is made of water is subject to contamination and deterioration when improperly stored. Although the shelf life of hydrosols is relatively short – approximately one year – the shelf life can be extended with proper storage and care of your aromatic waters. By the way, never add preservatives or buy them with preservatives added.
Don’t let the delicate nature of hydrosols put you off using them. They offer enormous pleasure and therapeutic benefits; especially you follow the simple guidelines for their storage and handling listed below.
1. Keep Hydrosols in a Dark, Dry, Cool Location
Direct light, especially sunlight, is damaging to hydrosols. Ideally, they should be stored in a refrigerator. I don’t recommend freezing them as I honestly don’t know the effect this will have on their therapeutic properties. You might consider investing in a small apartment-sized fridge just for your hydrosols and essential oils. If the refrigerator is not an option, then store them in a cool, dark location with consistent temperature like a dry basement. In this case, keep your bottles in a cabinet or box, away from the light.
2. Store Hydrosols in Clear Glass
Glass bottles are ideal for storing hydrosols and the glass should always be clear, without any color because hydrosol contamination can often be seen with the naked eye (read “Watch for the Bloom” below). Many companies ship hydrosols in plastic or aluminum bottles or even in plastic bags (like the bags used inside a box of wine). This keeps breakage and shipping to a minimum which is understandable. However, if you receive your hydrosols in plastic or aluminum, transfer them immediately into sterilized glass bottles.
3. Beware of Headspace
When a bottle of hydrosol is partially full, the empty space above the liquid is called headspace. This headspace contains oxygen that, over time, will react with the hydrosol and cause deterioration. To prolong the shelf life of your hydrosol, reduce this headspace. For example, if you have a 16 oz. bottle of Lavender Hydrosol with only 8 ounces left in the bottle, transfer the hydrosol into an 8 ounce clear glass bottle or two 4 ounce bottles. You get the idea.
4. Keep Everything Sterile
It is easy to contaminate your hydrosol with unseen bacteria from fingers, pipettes, a funnel, an unsterilized bottle during transfer and even your nose. Don’t let anything come in direct contact with the hydrosol or its bottle. Pour the amount of hydrosol you need into a sterilize container then work with that, rather than risk contaminating the entire bottle. Sterilize everything that comes in contact with your hydrosol sterile with Everclear Grain Alcohol or Vodka. I like to spray the container with Everclear, then let it air dry.
5. Watch out for the “Bloom”
Sometimes when hydrosols are contaminated they grow a “bloom” (such a lovely word for something so nasty). The bloom can look like a bit of white material or ghostly blob floating around the bottom. It can also be dark. I mentioned above in “Store in Glass”, although dark bottles are nice for storing your hydrosol, they make it hard to see a hydrosol bloom. You can sometimes hold a colored glass bottle up to the light
6. Record the Purchase Date
The date of the distillation should be printed or written directly on your bottle of hydrosol. If it arrives without that information, contact your supplier, get the date and write it on the bottle. Indicate the exact month and year of the distillation and the date you received the hydrosol on the label. You can add this to the side of the bottle and on a sticker placed on the cap of the bottle for easy reference.
In conclusion, I love hydrosols and find many many uses for them in my daily life. Again, don’t let their delicate nature put you off trying them. They offer so many benefits, especially if you take care of them using the guidelines in this article.
[Post was updated 11.17.21]
Would you like to learn more about Hydrosols?
Hydrosols for Health™ is Liz’s comprehensive, step-by-step, online course that will guide you in how to understand and use healing waters called hydrosols.
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