Now that we know the history of lavender, let’s make something with it!
Flower waters, or hydrosols, are made by distilling the volatile oils out of herbs and flowers. On a large scale, this is done with copper stills, but it can also be done on a small scale with supplies that most of us have in our own kitchens. Although hydrosols are often made as a byproduct of essential oils, their quality is much higher when distilled as a stand-alone product. They contain the same components as essential oils, but in a less concentrated, gentler form that does not need to be diluted for use. Hydrosols are great in homemade herbal concoctions, and I use them often in my natural beauty products.
Lavender hydrosol is refreshing, calming, and cooling. It can be used to soothe sunburns, rashes and other skin conditions, as a facial toner, as an aromatherapeutic room or linen spray, and to calm nerves or encourage sleep at bedtime.
For this project, you’ll need a large pot, a brick (or other heat-safe elevation device), fresh buds, leaves and stems of lavender (enough to place around the brick and just cover with water up to the top of the brick), a heat-safe bowl that will fit under the inverted lid, water, and ice.
First, place the brick in the pot and surround it with your fresh plant material. Fill with enough water to just cover the plant material, but do not fill above the brick.
Place your bowl on top of the brick. It must fit under the inverted lid.
Place the inverted lid on top and fill with ice, then bring to a low simmer. You want it to be hot enough to create steam, but you don’t want to cook the plant material too fast or get residue into the bowl. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, dumping the melted ice out of the lid as needed (being careful not to get the ice water in your hydrosol bowl).
The steam containing the essential oils of the lavender will gather on the underside of the inverted lid, dripping down into the bowl inside.
Pour the contents of your bowl into a glass storage container. The water should be clear, if not it means that either your heat was too high or you distilled for too long. I only ended up with about one cup, probably because I ran out of ice.
You now have your own lavender hydrosol! It will be stable for six months to a year—store in the refrigerator to prolong shelf life.