Hydrosols vs Floral Waters – What’s the Diff?

Please check out my new book REVELATION! – Reveal Your Destiny with Essential Oils

Amazon USA      Amazon AU      Amazon UK

Hydrosols vs Floral Waters – What’s the Diff?

A lovely selection of rosewater

A lovely selection of rosewater

Recently one of my wholesale suppliers sent an email lamenting about the short shelf life of hydrosols and how difficult it is to maintain great standards for their customers.

I would have to agree. I absolutely love hydrosols but their scent doesn’t last long and it’s always disappointing when you open up a bulk container to find it has “turned”. The scent goes a bit dull and brownish and it simply isn’t right. So what’s the difference between hydrosols and floral waters?


Hydrosols are the water left over from the steam and water distillation of a plant or flower. They contain many water-soluble constituents from the plant and therefore have a different make-up to the essential oil they come from. Hydrosols also have the beautiful scent of the plant, but at a more softer, rounder level. They contain minerals, cellulose and aromatic compounds. According to Wikipedia they “contain essential oil compounds as well as organic acids..…. and will include many of the water-soluble plant pigments and flavonoids.”

Hydrosols will be harder to find in a retail environment, mostly everything will be a floral water- either the essential oil infused into the water, or the plant boiled or infused in water. If you can buy a true hydrosol its definitely worth a try.

Hydrosols can be used in skin care and as a therapuetic treatment. I remember taking a weekend class with an Indian Ayurvedic doctor and rosewater was used for an eye bath to soothe the infection and used when any kind of heat or inflammation was present. Rose water has been used in Ayurveda as a treatment for centuries and is also used by woman in their skin care regimes.

If it’s a real hydrosol it can be amazing when its fresh. If it’s not a real hydrosol it could be a floral water.

Floral Waters

The most well-known would be rose-water, orange blossom (neroli) water and pine (kewra) water. Check out this article for some fabulous Oregon scented alcohols.

Pine water (essence)

Pine water (essence)

A simple hand made rose water sneakily holistichealthherbalist.com

A simple hand made rose water – pic sneakily holistichealthherbalist.com

Hydrosols could be called floral waters (because they are), but this usually refers to a water that has been scented with essential oils. The best floral waters use a process that breaks essential oils into tiny droplets and forces them into de-ionised water. In this process no extra chemicals are used and the scent is true to the essential oil. The scent will also last longer and floral waters can still be used for everything that a hydrosol is used for.

If you go into a middle eastern or Indian shop and find a bottle of rose-water, for example, it probably wont be a hydrosol. It will be a floral water made in another way. That’s not to say they aren’t fabulous but always check the label to find if there are any chemical preservatives or nasty ingredients.

You can use your stunning floral water in these ways:

  • Misting your face before moisturising to soften and hydrate
  • Misting your body after the sun
  • Use in place of a facial toner for a more gentle clarifying and cooling treatment
  • particularly lovely for misting kids to help cool them down
  • add to a cocktail for a delicious scented drink
  • add a splash to a glass of water
  • use in cooking with sweets and salad dressings

I’m sure you can think of many more so don’t hesitate to use hydrosols and floral waters in your daily regime.

copyright suzanne

13 thoughts on “Hydrosols vs Floral Waters – What’s the Diff?

  1. Hello. I don’t know if you can help me or not. I’m going to make rose hydrosol using the inverted lid with ice method to collect the steam that drips down into a bowl. So this is the distilled hydrosol. My question is how long will this last without preservatives since it is distilled? Thanks Simone

    • Hi Simone I’m excited you’re making your own hydrosol that’s fab! If you keep it in the fridge it will last longer but you’ll find the scent will be fleeting and may only last a few weeks. You’ll know when it has turned so before each use just have a sniff. The water soluble elements will degrade quite quickly and this is why even producers of hydrosols have quite a short expiry date on them. Best wishes and good luck!

  2. Pingback: Rosewater Benefits For Hair And Skin - Coconut Beauty

  3. Hi. I recently went to a healthfood store to buy rosewater as I would like to use it to flavour a fruit smoothie that I make. They only had rose essential oil but the naturopath at the store assured me I can put a drop of it in my smoothie. I decided to read up on this a bit first and think maybe she was mistaken. Can you comment on whether or not this is safe to do? It does have a warning on the bottle about it being for external use only so I am concerned.

    • Hi Mia thanks for the time to ask the question – and it’s a good one! Officially no Aronatherapist will agree with ingesting essential oils. It is an issue that has come to light more recently with MLM companies instructing their sellers to recommend drinking essential
      Oils. So for your purposes rose water is the perfect addition to your smoothie; just like a rose water lassie in India. If the rose oil is diluted in jojoba (which it probably was in a retail environment) then it’s less toxic but all in all, avoid drinking essential oils. Thanks so much, Suzanne

  4. I have used rose water as a facial toner for years. I would like to get be assured that it’s got some good therapeutic essential rose in it, but there are so many “rose water” and now “rose hydrosols” out there….is rose water better for this or the rose hydrosol? which would allow for my essence of the rose for as a tonic when I use it?

    • Good question. Hydrosols have water soluble nutrients as well as some part of the scent – but it’s not necessarily the essential oil as that is extracted during the process. An infused floral water will just have water and the essential oil, so technically this has rose oil in it but the hydrosol will only have some of the oily scent molecules. It’s my recommendation you try both and see what works best for your skin. You make like a hydrosol better? It’s a good idea to find out more information about the product you are actually using so you can make a decision. If you like what you’ve been using for years then keep using it.

  5. Pingback: My favorite traditional--and new--herbal preparations for roses for skincare

  6. Pingback: DIY Rosy Glow Facial Toner - Live Joyfully Inspired

  7. Pingback: DIY Rosy Glow Facial Toner – Live Joyfully Inspired

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.