When I first began distilling botanicals, I'd assumed my greatest pleasure would be derived from a) Creating my own oils, b) The oils themselves, and c) Creating product with the oils I made. Little did I know that the by-product, the waters, aka hydrosols, would capture my imagination as they have. I no longer look at a botanical and think, "How much oil can I get from that?", but, "How nice would THAT hydrosol be?"
Over the years I've been gifted with large apothecary and liquor glassware ~ one and two liter glass stoppered decanters, big corked jugs, decorative hand thrown earthenware decanters, and a few monstrosities -- old gallon Gallo jugs with screw lids. I remember thinking 'what the hell am I going to do with this?' a time or two. Some were too pretty to mess up storing finished perfume or compositions; others too big. Now nearly all are filled with hydrosols. They took some cleaning, those jugs and bottles -- hot soapy water baths, boiled in big industrial pots, swirled with alcohol. The one major setback to creating hydrosols is the issue of sterility -- if the containers aren't properly cleaned the hydrosol goes wonky. Basically, little microscopic creatures begin to grow in them and render them useless. And they need to be refrigerated. Nothing feels quite so nice as a little shot of refrigerator-cold botanical water on a hot summer's day.
Today the still is taking a break. There are lemons to distill, but the timing is off. It'll wait until tomorrow. And I'm in the process of inquiring about violet flowers to distill. There isn't a snowball's chance in hell I'll get even a drop of oil, but that's not what I'm after. The hydrosol may turn out smelling like rotted garbage, but I won't know until I get it done.