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Working with Floral Waters & Hydrosols

Of the many herbal products I work with for animal herbal self-selection, floral waters and hydrosols are probably the easiest to use and the most versatile. The term floral waters is often used interchangeably with hydrosols, hydrolats, or aromatic waters. There are variations in the way they are produced. But for the purposes of this article, I will refer to them collectively as hydrosols.


Generally, hydrosols are the water that remains after distilling an essential oil or are the product of steam distillation of the plant in boiling water. Hydrosols contains minute amounts of the essential oil plus the hydrophilic parts of the plant with much of its properties, as well as the beautiful scent.



There are many different hydrosols on the market. So always check that you purchase a pure natural one. There are cheaply made synthetics available which despite having a nice aroma will not contain the active therapeutic compounds needed to be of use in animal self-selection.

Hydrosols are very safe for working with pets so are excellent for beginners in herbal self-selection. They are also good to use with animals that are particularly sensitive to aromas and find essential oils too strong. Hydrosols are even safe for cats to lick (unlike essential oils which cat must never ingest).



The first step is choosing a hydrosol of the herb with the desired properties, for example ginger water for digestive support. Once chosen, you can offer them to your pet in various ways. Hydrosols can be sprayed onto cloth for pets to access and inhale whenever they need to. They can be sprayed into the air to create a calming space; rose, orange blossom, lavender or cornflower water are relaxing aromas. Or try putting a spritz of hydrosol onto your palm and offering it to your pet that way. You can instantly see if your pet is self-selecting by licking it up or sniffling the aroma. My dog loves elderflower water and will lick up a whole palmful from my hand.



Most hydrosols have a very pleasant aroma, rose being one of my personal favourites. There is one hydrosol that is immensely popular with animals, but not particularly nice for humans. Valerian water. Useful during stressful times such as firework night, valerian being a muscle relaxant and mild sedative, it can help take the edge off your pet’s fear. Don’t let its very pungent aroma put you off using it.


When storing hydrosols, always keep them in dark coloured glass bottles away from direct sunlight. They do not contain preservatives and therefore can get contaminated if left open too long. If you spot any bits floating around, throw it away. Stored correctly and used cleanly they should last a good year or two.


For more information or questions on using or purchasing hydrosols, just contact Rita who will be happy to help you.

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