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What are Essential Waters ?

Essential waters are true partial extracts or by-products of volatile oils of the plant materials from which they are derived by using method of distillation. e.g. chamomile water and lavender water. There is no synthetic fragrance components dissolved in it. They are obtained due to high proportion of water soluble compounds in oils which are retained by the water during the distillation process.

Which plants yield an essential water?

It is considered by many aromatherapists that only plants containing an essential oil gives essential water but this is  not true. Just like the essential oils, essential water reacts according to its constituents. Plantago lanceolata is an example of a non-aromatic plant which is distilled only for its essential water.


The yield of essential water is proportionately limited to the plant weight and usually lie between the limits of one to one and a half and two to five litres per kilogram of plant matter, and vary according to the particular plant. The waters of thyme, savory and rosemary require a less quantity of plant as compared to the lettuce plant.

Appearance and Aroma

They are mildly coloured in appearance and their smell may be the reminiscent of the original plant material.

Shelf Life & Storage

Research has proved that plant waters resulting from the distillation process of essential oils have a lifespan of about two to three years, owing to the presence of soluble compounds from the essential oils. But it is wise to purchase them in small quantities rather than bulk. The maximum storage period must not, in general, exceed one year at a temperature of less than 14 C and should be kept away from light.

Use of Essential Water

Distilled waters when compared with essential oils are useful for the treatment of the young, the elderly and those in a state of delicate health. Some with higher concentration of volatile elements can be a good replacement for tea. Since essential waters work synergistically with essential oils, they can be prescribed as a complement to Aromatherapy.

General Use

Waters being non-aggressive can be used safely for the disinfection of open wounds and on mucous surfaces e.g. eczema, ulcers, bronchitis,  colitis, burns and pain. They are also used as gargles, nasal sprays, skin sprays and vaginal douches.

Skin Care

Aromatic waters play an important role in skin care as they are mild in action, lack toxicity and are free of irritation. They are widely used in baby care, bath preparations, hair rinses, aftershave preparations and facial sprays.


Since it is alcohol free, it is suitable for children, both for external and internal use because they do not irritate the skin or mucous surfaces. Also they may be sweetened with sugar if necessary. 

Eye Care

Essential waters are used to soothe pains due to inflammatory condition of the eyes.

Traditional Medicine

Essential waters are sometimes used to adjust the 'energy balance' and the 'environment' (both internal and external) of the person by alternative healing practitioners. e.g. disorders of the digestive system such as constipation, rheumatism, migraine (from liver irritation), parasites, and ear, nose and throat problems.

Routes of Absorption

There are three routes of absorption namely oral route i.e. through the walls of the digestive tract, the rectal route i.e. absorption across the mucous surfaces of the large intestine and finally the skin where the substance is absorbed from the whole surface of the body.

Methods of Use & Dosage
  • Put some essential water into your bath water to make you relax and provide a soothing effect.

  • Just after cleansing, use few drops on a cotton wool pad as a skin tonic.

  • You may use it as a mouthwash or gargle.


While purchasing waters from shop, it is necessary to obtain a certificate from the supplier to ensure that the proper conditions of harvesting, processing and stocking are done to avoid any contamination mainly by preservatives. As it is safe and gentle, it may also be used to complement other forms of treatment and have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive.



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