Is Water Based Essential Oil a Real Deal? Many friends ask me this question recently. These ‘Water soluble essential oils’ are called by some suppliers are ‘extracts from plants’. They’re usually selling $10 plus for 250ml big bottle and looks very attractive. However instinct let them doubt why oil can be water soluble. To answer this questions, let us look at what is essential oil.
Essential oils are the essence of a plant created via steam distillation, cold compression or CO2 extraction. It is hydrophobic and they don’t dissolve with water at all. As essential oils are lighter than water, and hence float on water. No matter how hard we try to mix things, it will float on top finally. This is reason many of us who use essential oils in diffuser noticed the scent fading away after a few minutes of starting the diffusion process ( Nebulizer becomes a better innovative alternative to diffuse essential oils for aromatherapy although it consumes more essential oils).
If the science says so, how are ‘water soluble essential oils’ possible? It is still possible because of clever chemistry to alter the mixing properties of essential oils by additives. These additives can reduce viscosity of the oil and surface tension of the oil and make it mixable with water. Most of them use alcohol to improve the water solubility of essential oils while some use other synthesized emulsifiers. As essential oils content inside usually will be very low due to solubility up-limit created from additives with majority water content, most ‘water soluble essential oils’ usually need to add synthetic essence enhance the scent. This is reason they’re selling in big bottles with very low price. These ‘water soluble essential oils’ are called ‘extracts from plants’ in the market.
However there is one real natural water soluble type called hydrosols. Hydrosols are simply the aromatic water that remains after steam-distilling botanical matter. When we distill essential oils, pressurised steam passes through the plants to extract the oils. When the steam and oil are condensed, the essential oil is separated from the water mixture and the water-based product left is hydrosol. Hydrosols are quite often referred to as “floral waters” and carry many of the same therapeutic properties as the essential oil produced from the same plant. They are very milder than their oil counterparts, can generally be applied directly to the skin use but not used for aromatherapy purpose ( scent is too mild and dilute) .
Now you may get a better understanding of what is ‘water soluble essential oils’. Although many of the diffuser or air purifier manuals remind us to use water soluble essential oils with their diffuser, it is not a wise way from aromatherapy point of view as benefits will not be there comparing to pure essential oils. Pure essential oils can be used for diffusers. When these pure essential oils are added into a diffuser, they will also break down completely to the particle and then mixed into vapor released. All You may need to do is to clean the diffuser tank more regularly as there will be oil stains inside after use. If you’re like me complaining the scent fading away after a few minutes of starting the diffusion process, the nebulizer is a better choice which produces a consisitent way to diffuse essential oils and more suitable for aromatherapy.