March this year, during the IFA jubilee conference (International Federation of Aromatherapists) in London, I met again colleague and friend Joe Nasr. Joe is a herbalist and distiller who was invited to give a lecture during this conference. He is also the owner of a small family business 'Avicenna'.
While explaining the benefits of natural and pure products during his lecture he also talked about the refinement and use of his ‘aromatic waters' and aversion against fake products. The term ‘aromatic waters’ in his product-line could be a little confusing as usually in aromatheraphy the word ‘hydrosols’ is used for this product. Hydrolats are one of the ‘half’ of the two products obtained while distilling plant material. Essential oil is the most common known other one. Hydrosols contain, beside a very safe percentage water- soluble essential oils, also phytotherapeutic particles. This makes the hydrosols easy and also powerful in use.
According to Joe the term ‘hydrosols’ does not cover the sophistication and quality of his aromatic waters. Hydrosols are in his view only the by-products of the distillation of essential oil. He distilles only to obtain aromatic waters. Also 'aromatic waters' are not to be mixed up with 'floral waters’. Floral water is water with addition of a drop of essential oil (and often also preservatives).
In his homeland Lebanon, he was raised with the use of aromatic waters. All seasons round alembics (distillation units) appeared from the village houses to transform spices, herbs and other plant material into healing essences. They where part of daily life and diet. This in contrast to the ignorance of use of aromatic waters and hydrosols in other (European) countries. In the years that he has been working as herbalist and distiller in the UK, he has seen many changes. For the better, as the interest in the use of aromatic waters and hydrosols are increased, and more and more literature on this type of extract have appeared.