Aromatic Adventures News Letter 6 Melissa
I had delayed this newsletter to hopefully share my experiences making my first distillation of osmanthus hydrosol but after planting the trees a few months ago and lots of vigorous growth and a lot hot summer, there has been no sign of any flowers....I found this great website packed with information about this most incredible smelling oil and the hydrosol is just as gorgeous (http://www.leffingwell.com/osmanthus.htm) But my anticipation and excitement will have to wait a while....
Melissa Officinalis Hydrosol
I have completed one distillation of melissa hydrosol ( about three weeks later than I had planned but it turns out waiting was a good thing as the plants not only grew bigger but there is a lot of new growth underneath to carry over to the new season. As an essential oil, melissa is one of the most expensive with one of the lowest yields. it is also often highly adulterated. So i thought I would give the hydrosol a go this year, leaving in what ever few molecules were in there.
I distilled approx. 350 gm leaves/branches as a steam distillation. I put 6 litres of water in the base of the still and my yield was approx. 2.4 litres of hydrosol. I could have carried on further but felt that the aroma was turning to a ‘cooked’ smell so left it. Comparing with the hydrosols I have done a 50% output is quite low. The aroma of the hydrosol is not as crisp and lemony as the actual plant, it almost has an earthy note to it. I could not measure the pH at this time as my meter had chosen to break! Referring to Suzanne Catty’s text, ‘Hydrosols The Next Aromatherapy’ she notes that melissa hydrosol would have a ph of 4.8-5. She states that melissa hydrosol is very stable and would last up to 2 years. As I use a copper alembic still , this will also provide some anti microbial protection. Melissa is safe to be drunken, especially at times of stress (dilute 60 ml in 1 litre of water). I find it interesting that it will assist with intestinal spasms (taken internally) and externally has use as a soothing agent for rashes, irritations and excema. True to form I got slightly sunburnt the day I harvested, sneaking a quick dip in the spa pool in the middle of the day without any sunscreen. It was a cloudy day but here in NZ that means nothing. two days later parts of my legs are still inflamed and sore so I conducted a test using melissa as a compress- the melissa hydrosol compress was instantly soothing and cooling and seemed to speed up the healing.
New Product Review- my favourite lavender distiller, Thomas from www.lavender-impressions.co.nz sent me 2 samples of his latest hydrosols. The first is distilled olive leaves (olea europa). To my knowledge there is no such thing as an olive ‘essential oil’- any references I came across relate to the olive oil (fatty oil). However extracts from olives are gaining in popularity, especially olive leaf extract which has a substance in it called oleuropein, which is anti viral. It also believed to be effective in reducing inflammation. As hydrosols contain the water-soluble components of the leaf it would be reasonable to expect these constituents are present in the hydrosol. This hydrosol has value for those who are interested in using olive based products such as soaps or creams and which to include all of the olive in their formulation. As the aroma is not unpleasant it would be easy to incorporate it into the water phase of a product. I do not feel comfortable commenting on it’s uses as an internal product as I have not been able to find information relating to this. however as with all hydrosols, as long as there was no contamination and the hydrosol is diluted (at around 1 tablespoon per glass of water) then i can see any problems with ingesting it.
The other hydrosol thomas sent to me to try is the Tahitian lime which again is the leaves and twigs (petitgrain). This batch has a woody, slight citrus top note with a smooth honey aroma at the base. it is quite pleasant and not at all over powering. I have used this product for its toning and skin tightening effects such as for products made for use in oily skin, deodorants and gels. if you love petitgrain oil then you will love this hydrosol. I have had past batches last for up to 2 years before any signs of contamination. both these hydrosols are available from www.lavender-impressions.co.nz
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All the best Wendy