There are occasions where using vegetable carrier oils may not be ideal. A few other ‘water-based’ carriers can be used due to their beneficial effects on the skin include apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, and hydrosols. The benefits of these options can increase the versatility of essential oils use, increase therapeutic activity. These ‘water-based’ options could be used as an alternative or in combination with vegetable carrier oils.
The term hydrosol derives from the Latin word hydro, meaning “water” and sol, mean “solution”. Hydrosols are byproducts of the steam distillation of essential oils. They come from the same parts of the plants that essential oils do; the same procedure produces both essential oils and hydrosols. Hydrosols are the “waste” product from steam distillation.
Hydrosols are softer in aroma and gentler to use than essential oil which you can splash them in your skin as a skin toner, spritz your face to freshen your skin, mist into the air to alter the atmosphere so to impart a delightful aroma to any space. Not all hydrosols have the same aroma as the essential oil, for example, lavender smells like wildflowers or weeds, it does not have the characteristic lavender aroma.
Other names for hydrosols include aromatic waters, floral waters, hydrolats, hydrolats and plant waters.
You can use hydrosols as a base for your aromatherapy blends by adding a few drops to several ounces. You will be able to find some of the recipes include the use of hydrosols or suggestions of how to use them as a substitute for water in remedies and other uses, where they add value due to its therapeutic benefits and are a complementary addition to aromatherapy.
Hydrosols lack of stability of essential oils thus often distillers put preservatives in them before shipping. Hence, be sure to check the label as some companies add 15% of ethanol as a preservative which can be dying to the skin and will sting if applied to the wounds. The shelf life of a hydrosol is normally one year, it is best to buy them in a smaller size and to use them quickly. Light and heat can degrade the hydrosols and cause them to spoil so it is best to keep in a cool, dark place. They can be refrigerated and return them to the refrigerator immediately after use.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar provides a good base for many aromatherapy formula. Because it is acidic by nature, it can maintain or restores the skin’s natural acid balance. It is antiseptic and cleansing, both internally or externally. Its many therapeutic topical uses include minimising age spots, blemish, fine lines, and wrinkles. It soothes burns, including sunburn, and rashes. It can relieve the discomfort of skin disorders, such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and seborrhea. It calms itching and redness of insect bites.
Essential oils disperse fairly well in apple cider vinegar. You can use it to create facial toners, soaks for athlete’s foot, splashes for skin disorders, sunburn relief treatments, tonics to banish blemishes. You can make soothing treatments for almost any skin disorder, such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, red or inflamed skin, or seborrhea. You can also create hair tonics to stimulate growth or prevent hair loss, to diminish dandruff, to soothe seborrhea, or to minimise oiliness. Generally, add 2 to 8 drops of an essential oil or a combination of essential oil to 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar.
The most popular use for witch hazel is on the skin, since its strong antioxidant and astringent properties are perfect for killing bacteria that lives within skin’s pores, stopping the cellular damage that can lead to skin cancer, preventing signs of aging, and speeding up healing.
An active constituent called tannins are extracted from the bark, twigs, and leaves of the plant and added to either alcohol or water to make a concentrated product called witch hazel water.
Tannins are responsible for making witch hazel extract a natural astringent as they remove excess oil from the skin. Witch hazel offers benefits over other beauty products because it is completely natural, free of environmental pollutants, irritating ingredients, fake fragrances and other contaminants.
Witch hazel can be used to dilute with a vegetable carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba oil) and apply it directly to the skin, either as a serum, lotion, toner or any homemade facial wash. Doctors and holistic healers recommend witch hazel for itching, pain, redness, swelling (inflammation) and other wounds, even for people with sensitivities to most topical treatments.
Water can be an excellent carrier for essential oils, however, it is very important to remember that water and oil don’t mix. If you decide to use water as a carrier, the essential oils in your mixture will not be adequately dispersed and undiluted and this can lead to skin reactions and burns. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use water as a carrier, you can add the essential oils to the distilled or filtered water and use dispersing agents like alcohol i.e vodka, aloe vera or products like glycerin as natural emulsifiers.