Hydrosol vs. Floral Water: what's the difference?

Hydrosol vs. Floral Water: what's the difference?

Hydrosols and floral waters are often used interchangeably in the beauty and wellness industry, but there are some differences between the two in terms of their quality and potency.

 Floral water is an all-encompassing term used for any waters with plant extracts. Hydrosol on the other hand, is a specific term used for the steam-distilled water formulated during the essential oil distillation process.

While hydrosols can be considered floral waters, most floral waters cannot be considered hydrosol. For the purposes of this blog post, I will separate the terms into 1) hydrosol and 2) floral water (as it pertains to all other non-hydrosol floral waters).

 Here are the primary important distinctions:


1. Composition:

  • Hydrosols: Hydrosols are the water-based byproduct of the steam distillation process used to extract essential oils from plants. They contain a small amount of essential oil along with water-soluble plant compounds. The aromatic components in hydrosols are much gentler compared to essential oils, making them mild and suitable for direct use on the skin.
  • Floral Waters: Floral waters are typically made by infusing water with fresh flowers or petals, often through methods like steam distillation or the enfleurage technique. They do not contain the same concentrated essential oil content as hydrosols.

2. Potency:

  • Hydrosols: Hydrosols are less potent than essential oils but more concentrated than floral waters. They retain some therapeutic properties of the plants they are derived from, making them gentle and safe for use on the skin without dilution.
  • Floral Waters: Floral waters are the least potent of the three. They have a milder scent compared to hydrosols and essential oils and are generally used more for their pleasant fragrance than for therapeutic benefits.

3. Scent:

  • Hydrosols: Hydrosols have a subtle and delicate aroma that is less intense than essential oils but more pronounced than floral waters. Their scent is closer to the natural aroma of the plant from which they are derived.
  • Floral Waters: Floral waters have a light and refreshing fragrance, often capturing the essence of the flowers they are made from. However, their aroma may not be as true to the plant's natural scent as hydrosols.

4. Uses:

  • Hydrosols: Hydrosols are versatile and can be used in skincare as gentle toners, facial mists, or as a base for beauty formulations. They are also used in aromatherapy and can be added to baths or used as room sprays for a subtle aroma.
  • Floral Waters: Floral waters are commonly used as natural fragrances, body mists, or room sprays. Some companies will use floral waters in place of hydrosols, however, floral waters do not retain the same concentration of plant compounds as hydrosols, and are often less potent and less effective.

5. Shelf Life:

  • Hydrosols: Hydrosols have a limited shelf life compared to essential oils, typically ranging from 6 months to 2 years. Proper storage in a cool and dark place can help extend their freshness.
  • Floral Waters: Floral waters generally have a shorter shelf life than hydrosols, usually lasting for about 6 months to 1 year. Like hydrosols, they should be stored in a cool environment to maintain their quality.


In summary, hydrosols are more potent and contain a higher concentration of plant compounds compared to floral waters. They offer a wider range of therapeutic benefits and are commonly used in skincare and aromatherapy. On the other hand, floral waters are less potent and are primarily valued for their pleasant fragrance opposed to their effectiveness and beautifying properties. 

At Artisana, we handcraft our own hydrosols and essential oils using our hand beaten copper distillers. The result is essential oils and hydrosols of impeccable quality. 

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