Herbal distillate

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Hydro-Distillation Process in Extracting Of Agarwood Essential Oil. Condensers.jpg
Hydro-Distillation Process in Extracting Of Agarwood Essential Oil.

Herbal distillates, also known as floral waters, hydrosols, hydrolates, herbal waters, and essential waters, are aqueous products of hydrodistillation. They are colloidal suspensions of essential oils as well as water-soluble components obtained by steam distillation or hydrodistillation (a variant of steam distillation) from plants/herbs. These herbal distillates have uses as flavorings and cosmetics (skin care). Popular herbal distillates for skincare include rose water, orange flower water, and witch hazel. Rosemary, oregano and thyme are very popular hydrosols for food production.



Herbal distillates are produced in the same or similar manner as essential oils. However, essential oils will float to the top of the distillate where it is removed, leaving behind the watery distillate. For this reason the term essential water is an apt description. In the past, these essential waters were often considered a byproduct of distillation, but are now considered an important co-product.[ citation needed ] The produced herbal waters are essentially diluted essential oils at less than 1% concentration (typically 0.01% to 0.04%). [1] Several factors, such as temperature and an herb's growth cycle, impact the characteristics of a distillate, and therefore influence the timing of the distillation. Rosemary, for example, should be distilled in the peak of summer before it flowers. [2]


Cosmetics and toiletries makers are finding many uses for herbal distillates. [3] Distillates are also used as flavorings and curables. Herbal distillates have been used historically as a topical agent for cosmetics and medicinal use. Since herbal distillates are less concentrated than essential oils, they are more suitable for some situations, such as for the use of those who are sensitive, such as the elderly or young children. [2]

White tea, rose and witch hazel distillates have become popular for skincare, and there have been many studies into the benefits of these practices. Some studies show that topical use of herbal distillates has been shown to protect fibroblast cells from hydrogen peroxide induced damage. [3] This is caused by the high polyphenolic content and high activities in antioxidant assays. Additionally, there are many medicinal uses for herbal distillates based on their metal concentrations. Rose water and Orange blossom distillates have been found to be high in calcium. [4] Researchers hypothesis that these distillates could be used as a calcium source for those who cannot digest animal calcium. Orange blossom and rose water also have levels of Selenium that would provide the daily recommended dose to decrease cancer rates. [4] Rose water, Crataegus distillate, Peppermint distillate, Pussy willow distillate, have also been shown to have high levels of zinc. [4] Zinc has been found to prevent skin disease and stomach irritation. [5]

There has been numerous studies done to prove the antibacterial activity of herbal distillates. Hydrosols of anise, cumin, oregano, summer savory and black thyme have been shown to decrease bacteria growth in incubation. [6] In particular, oregano and summer savory hydrosols are active against at least 15 different bacteria strains. Since this antibacterial activity occurs naturally, it can be used to prevent the deterioration of food, especially in organic farming. It is also safer for consumers and handlers of these products.


The science of distillation is based on the fact that different substances vaporise at different temperatures. Unlike other extraction techniques based on solubility of a compound in either water or oil, distillation will separate components regardless of their solubility. The distillate will contain compounds that vaporize at or below the temperature of distillation. The actual chemical components of these orange herbal distillates have not yet been fully identified, but plant distillates will usually contain essential oil compounds as well as organic acids and other water-soluble plant components. Compounds with a higher vaporization point will remain behind and will include many of the water-soluble plant pigments and flavonoids.[ citation needed ]

Because hydrosols are produced at high temperatures and are somewhat acidic, they tend to inhibit bacterial growth but not fungal growth. They are not sterile, and should be kept refrigerated to preserve freshness. [7] Herbal distillates degrade over time and will degrade faster than essential oils, which are more stable and will degrade slower. [8] Small-scale producers of hydrosols must be particularly aware of the risk of bacterial contamination and take steps to prevent it. Despite concerns that there may be significant amounts of heavy metals in popular herbal distillates, this has not shown to be the case. [9]

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Related Research Articles

Distillation Method of separating mixtures

Distillation, or classical distillation, is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation. Dry distillation is the heating of solid materials to produce gaseous products. Dry distillation may involve chemical changes such as destructive distillation or cracking and is not discussed under this article. Distillation may result in essentially complete separation, or it may be a partial separation that increases the concentration of selected components in the mixture. In either case, the process exploits differences in the relative volatility of the mixture's components. In industrial applications, distillation is a unit operation of practically universal importance, but it is a physical separation process, not a chemical reaction.

Oregano Perennial herb

Oregano is a flowering plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is native to temperate Western and Southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.

Rose water Rose-flavored water

Rose water is a flavoured water made by steeping rose petals in water. Additionally, it is the hydrosol portion of the distillate of rose petals, a by-product of the production of rose oil for use in perfume. It is used to flavour food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia.

Essential oil Hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants

An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile chemical compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, aetheroleum, or simply as the oil of the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An essential oil is "essential" in the sense that it contains the "essence of" the plant's fragrance—the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived. The term "essential" used here does not mean indispensable or usable by the human body, as with the terms essential amino acid or essential fatty acid, which are so called because they are nutritionally required by a given living organism.

Witch-hazel Genus of plants

Witch-hazels or witch hazels (Hamamelis) are a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, with three species in North America, and one each in Japan (H. japonica) and China (H. mollis). The North American species are occasionally called winterbloom.

Lavender oil

Lavender oil is an essential oil obtained by distillation from the flower spikes of certain species of lavender. There are over 400 types of lavender species worldwide with different scents and qualities. Two forms are distinguished, lavender flower oil, a colorless oil, insoluble in water, having a density of 0.885 g/mL; and lavender spike oil, a distillate from the herb Lavandula latifolia, having density 0.905 g/mL. Like all essential oils, it is not a pure compound; it is a complex mixture of phytochemicals, including linalool and linalyl acetate.

Thymol Chemical compound found in plants including thyme

Thymol (also known as 2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol, IPMP) is a natural monoterpenoid phenol derivative of p-Cymene, C10H14O, isomeric with carvacrol, found in oil of thyme, and extracted from Thymus vulgaris (common thyme), Ajwain and various other kinds of plants as a white crystalline substance of a pleasant aromatic odor and strong antiseptic properties. Thymol also provides the distinctive, strong flavor of the culinary herb thyme, also produced from T. vulgaris.

Steam distillation

Steam distillation is a separation process that consists in distilling water together with other volatile and non-volatile components. The steam from the boiling water carries the vapor of the volatiles to a condenser; both are cooled and return to the liquid or solid state, while the non-volatile residues remain behind in the boiling container.

Rose oil

Rose oil is the essential oil extracted from the petals of various types of rose. Rose ottos are extracted through steam distillation, while rose absolutes are obtained through solvent extraction, the absolute being used more commonly in perfumery. Even with their high price and the advent of organic synthesis, rose oils are still perhaps the most widely used essential oil in perfumery.

Peppermint extract is an herbal extract of peppermint made from the essential oils of peppermint leaves. Peppermint is a hybrid of water mint and spearmint and was indigenous to Europe and the Middle East before it became common in other regions, such as North America and Asia.

Fragrance extraction

Fragrance extraction refers to the separation process of aromatic compounds from raw materials, using methods such as distillation, solvent extraction, expression, sieving, or enfleurage. The results of the extracts are either essential oils, absolutes, concretes, or butters, depending on the amount of waxes in the extracted product.

Florentine flask

A florentine flask, also known as florentine receiver, florentine separator or essencier, other shapes called florentine vase or florentine vessel, is an oil–water separator fed with condensed vapors of a steam distillation in a fragrance extraction process.

Eau de toilette

Eau de toilette literally translated as toilet water is a lightly scented cologne used as a skin freshener. It is also referred to as "aromatic waters" and has a high alcohol content. It is usually applied directly to the skin after bathing or shaving. It was originally composed of alcohol and various volatile oils. Traditionally these products were named after a principal ingredient; some being geranium water, lavender water, lilac water, violet water, spirit of myrcia and 'eau de Bretfeld'. Because of this, eau de toilette was sometimes referred to as "toilet water".

Jeanne Rose is an herbalist/aromatherapist who changed the current practice of American herbalism when she began her public work in 1969 with the publication of her first book, Herbs & Things, Jeanne Rose's Herbal. She began her herbal career in California as an undergraduate with studies in botany and science and a degree from San Jose State College. She went on to graduate work in Marine Biology and Ecology. In 1969, she wrote the first modern book of Herbalism, Herbs & Things. She taught herbs and aromatherapy at the University of California Extension throughout the 1970s and privately throughout the United States. She has lived in San Francisco since 1967 and established a herbal/aromatic garden and study center. Becoming concerned about the environment and the production of aromatic plants, she organized the aromatherapy industry and a group, The Aromatic Plant Project, to support local and organic production of aromatic plants; to provide resources for growers and distillers; to ensure high quality aromatherapy products and to educate consumers as to the appropriate and beneficial uses of these aromatic products.

Ittar Types of essential oils

Ittar, also known as attar, is an essential oil derived from botanical sources. Most commonly these oils are extracted via hydro or steam distillation. The Persian physician Ibn Sina, known as Avicenna in Europe, was first to derive the attar of flowers from distillation. Attar can also be expressed by chemical means but generally natural perfumes which qualify as ittars are distilled with water. The oils are generally distilled into a wood base such as sandalwood and then aged. The aging period can last from one to ten years depending on the botanicals used and the results desired. Technically ittars are distillates of flowers, herbs, spices and other natural materials such as baked soil over sandalwood oil/liquid paraffins using hydrodistillation technique involving a still (deg) and receiving vessel (bhapka). These techniques are still in use today at Kannauj in India.

<i>Cymbopogon citratus</i> Species of plant

Cymbopogon citratus, commonly known as West Indian lemon grass or simply lemon grass, is a tropical plant native to Maritime Southeast Asia and introduced to many tropical regions.

Aromatherapy Usage of aromatic materials for improving well-being

Aromatherapy is a pseudoscience based on the usage of aromatic materials, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds, with claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. It is offered as a complementary therapy or as a form of alternative medicine, the first meaning alongside standard treatments, the second instead of conventional, evidence-based treatments.

Cinnamon leaf oil

Cinnamon leaf oil is obtained by steam distillation of leaves from plants in the genus Cinnamomum, whose bark is the source of the spice cinnamon. The oil yield ranges from 0.5 to 1.8%. More than 47 chemical compounds have been identified as present in the leaf oil, the most significant being eugenol, which constitutes 65–92%. Cinnamon leaf oil is less expensive than bark oil and is used in the flavor industry and, to a lesser extent, to flavor confectionary. It is also used as a source of eugenol for the preparation of synthetic vanillin. Cinnamon oleoresin obtained by solvent extraction is a dark brown, extremely concentrated ,and viscous liquid, closely approximating the total spice flavor and containing 50% or more volatile oil. It is used mainly for flavoring food products such as cakes and confectionary. In many applications, ground spice has been replaced by oils and oleoresin in food industry.


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The organically prepared Steam distilled water of fresh plant material like petals, roots, stems, buds, bark and leaves is also known as hydrosol. This is produced through the steam distillation method just like the earth’s natural rain process. Distillation removes the impurities, bacteria and other contaminants, so no preservative is required when stored properly in a clean sterile container. Hydrosol benefits the human body and skin when consumed and applied for desired benefits.

These herbal distillate, floral/herbal water-soluble nutrients rich water can be used as natural & healthy food flavours, aromatherapy, face toners, make- up remover, perfume, replace the facial mask recipe water with Hydrosol, linen spray etc.

And as per the herb benefits – the hydrosols can be used to treat indigestion, cramping, cold and cough and many more human body disorders. [1]

  1. "Ayurvedic Skincare Products - SNAANA". www.snaana.com. Retrieved 2020-12-09.