Essential Oils and Hydrosols

Essential oils are extremely concentrated. A gallon of peppermint leaves, well packed, will yield 10 or 15 drops of oil. Consider the strength of a cup of peppermint tea that only uses a teaspoon of the herb. That should give you some idea of the concentration of a single drop of oil.

At one time it was considered safe to use lavender, tea tree, patchouli, and a few other essential oils neat (undiluted). Now we consider it to be unsafe to use ANY essential oil neat, as over time sensitization occurs. The concentration of these materials must be respected. You can browse more here if you want to get more details about hydrosols.

Hydrosols are the re-liquefied steam that results from the distillation of plants. They contain minuscule droplets of oil suspended in water. Because of the concentration of pure essential oils, some of the hydrosols are gaining popularity for use where water is acceptable – in hydrous applications.

They can be used for cooking (rosewater and orange blossom water are examples), for external applications (witch hazel is a hydrosol), and for various uses in cosmetics and toiletries.

Some useful essential oils:

Lavender – The oil of lavender brought about the birth of Aromatherapy, when (as the story goes) chemist Renee Gottefosse burned his arm in the lab and plunged the burn into the nearest liquid – a beaker of lavender oil. He discovered that it caused the pain to cease instantly, and there was no blistering or scarring. This oil does indeed work well on burns. It is also a relaxing oil, flipping switches in the limbic brain, and helping some to release anxiety and stress.

Tea Tree Oil – Called "First Aid in a Bottle", entire industries have been built on this oil. Said to be antiseptic, anti-viral, and anti-fungal, some even claim that it works on warts and skin tags with regular application. A little toothpaste is amazing!

Patchouli – An earthy scent that people either love or hate – few in-betweens. It is sometimes worn as a bug repellant and is a moth repellant in the closet. It is good for the skin, especially mature skin.

Eucalyptus – Clears sinuses and sinus headaches. Also can be used in a house full of sick people to clear the air and get rid of germs.