Essential oils, plant extracts, and hydrosols are often times confused. Each solution offers a unique way to experience natural healing and therapeutic benefits. It’s important for you to understand the differences between the three options. For example, how to use each one and specifically at what times to use them.
What are essential oils?
This one is probably the most recognized method out of the three. Essential oils come from different plants around the world. Plants contain microscopic sacs filled with their unique oils which we can extract using distillation methods such as cold pressing or steam distillation. The oils extracted from these plants are famous for their therapeutic and healing benefits. Their healing benefits have been used for centuries and are even mentioned in the bible.
Essential oils had a high value and Frankincense oil was even considered “liquid gold”. A perfect example for essential oils is Lavender. A lot of people use Lavender oil on their neck, temples, and even inhaling the aroma to ease anxiety, tension, and stress.
What are plant extracts?
Essential oils and plant extracts are both similar in terms of natural plant remedies. Although, there is an important difference between the two that you need to be aware of. Plant extracts are taken using a cold press method or soaking the plant in a liquid (most often alcohol) to extract the nutrients from the herbs. These nutrients can later be used therapeutically.
A good example of this method is vanilla for cooking. For the most part, plant extracts are not as pure as essential oils but that does not mean they are not as good. There are ways for you to make your own plant extracts at home. This process includes mixing fresh herbs and alcohol in a jar and letting it sit in a dark place for a few weeks. You can always purchase extracts from a manufacture but making the extracts yourself will save you money.
What are hydrosols?
Hydrosols are a byproduct of essential oils. In basic terms, when essential oil distillation occurs, there is a separation between the water and the oil. This water is hydrosol that comes from the plant.
The concentration is much less than of essential oils but hydrosols still offer benefits that you can take advantage of. Since hydrosols still have therapeutic benefits, they are great for babies or people with sensitive skin.
Hydrosols can be used in conjunction with skin care products because of the acidity that is found in them. The acid makes them astringent which helps with contracting the skin tissues.
Which is the best option to use?
There are times where you will want to use one option over the other. It all depends on the present situation and what your end goal is.
If you are a needing therapeutic or healing solution, essential oils are my absolute favorite method to go with. There are thousands of different essential oils and each with their own set of therapeutic properties. Some are more popular than others.
Before using essential oils, it’s recommended to do some research on how to use essential oils safely and how to use them specifically for the therapeutic goal/ailment/health concern you are looking to resolve.
During your research, you may find that when you look for an essential oil to use for the health problem that is present, you will probably find a list of multiple oils to use. Begin by using the ones most recommended or the more mentioned ones. Everyone’s body is different and some oils will work more effectively on you than others. So this means you may have to try out a couple of them.
Plant extracts are more popular throughout cooking, perfumes, lotions, bug repellants, and other similar products. Always be cautious when using any of the three methods. Make sure to read labels and follow guidelines. For example, some essential oils may be too strong for some people.
Hydrosols would be a great “base” solution. They are more gentle than essential oils and plant extracts. Hydrosols are a good solution for baby skin and people with more sensitive skin. If the hydrosol does not seem to be “strong” enough, you can resort to using an essential oil. If an essential oil is too strong for you, you can use a carrier oil mixed with your essential oil of choice to dilute the strength of the oil.
Now that you understand the differences between essential oils, extracts, and hydrosols… you probably understand why so many people get them confused. All three of them are very similar but different in their own ways. Whichever option you decide to go with, do your research or speak with a professional to make sure you are using each method in the most effective and safest manner.
Meet the Author: Maxx Rattois the CEO and Owner of Essential Oil Advocate, a blog dedicated to offering articles, tips, and educational content to help educate people on essential oils for their therapeutic needs. Subscribe for our email updates and get 2 free audiobooks on essential oils and natural healing.
DISCLAIMER: We've done our best to research the topics on this site and to present accurate, up-to-date information. However, you should always do your own research and consult with a medical professional before making any decisions regarding your health. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.