The sun rises with such force in the summer, sometimes giving off sweltering heat—the kind where beads of sweat drip down your neck, making you uncomfortable and hot. During such hot summer days, the shade is your ally. Much like the trees and their leaves that drape over you help block the sun, herbs are also plant friends that can quell summer heat. This mint spritz, a homemade stovetop hydrosol, using mint, is just what you need to get you through summer!
Staying Cool In The Summer
I am reminded of trips to the desert. Walking over a hot sidewalk, a cool mist quenches passers-by, providing relief and cooling. This mint spritz helps you carry that same sensation anywhere!
This cooling, refreshing, herbal recipe is simple, just three ingredients you probably already have all three in your kitchen right now. I am going to show you how to make a hydrosol, a.k.a. herbal water, without a fancy distiller.
What Is a Hydrosol?
A hydrosol is essentially a floral or herbal water, a method used to extract the volatile oils of the plant you are using. Steam is created and condensation is collected. This method is perfect for the really aromatic type of herbs and flowers. When creating a hydrosol, you’re getting the best water-soluble parts one bead drop at a time.
One thing to point out here is that a hydrosol is different from the essential oils you may be more familiar with. Essential oils are highly concentrated products of just the aromatic constituents. Hydrosols are water-based blends of water and some of the aromatic components of the plant, much lighter than an essential oil, and can be applied directly to the skin without dilution.
Why Mint (Mentha)
A perfect herb for this summer hydrosol is mint. This fragrant herb has been used for centuries in a variety of ways. The luscious green leaves have a strong scent and are rich in menthol. Menthol is one constituent that helps to provide a cooling quality. When applied topically, menthol is like a cool rush over your skin. Mint helps to reduce body temperature, calm hot, irritated skin, and gives you a sense of freshness in an otherwise humid, hot environment (Bharate, 2012).
Another important mint fact comes from my herbal studies with Herbal Academy. During my course, Mastering Herbal Formulations, I am learning about the energetic properties of different plants. Mint specifically is categorized as a cooling herb (Herbal Academy, n.d.). This means when ingested or used topically, it will have a cooling effect on the body. Give me all the cooling herbs this summer, am I right? As I am starting to become more confident in developing my own herbal recipes, looking at the plant’s profile and energetic side effects on the body is a key factor.
Create A Hydrosol At Home
To create your very own hydrosol you’re going to need a few things from your kitchen. The first is a large stockpot. Why a stockpot? This type of pot is ideal to use for its tall height. We will stack a few items inside the pot itself, so it is important that there is enough room to build upwards, and space for constituents to volatilize and recondense. Next, you’re going to need a ramekin or a really small bowl. In addition, you will need another bowl larger in size than the ramekin. These bowls and anything you use inside the stockpot condensation should be non-reactive and heat-safe. Lastly, have a bag of ice handy, as this is essential to the condensation.
To set up this recipe you will first place the ramekin or small bowl, upside down, inside the pot. Next, add in fresh mint, sprinkle it around the ramekin, but not covering it entirely.
Pour in distilled water. The water level should be just below the top of the ramekin. Next, place your larger bowl on top of the ramekin. It should stay balanced and upright.
Place your stockpot lid upside down on the pot, so it is concave, curve pointing downward towards the pot. Even if it is only very slightly curved, this will work, but all surfaces of it should be scrupulously clean as the hydrosol you collect will vaporize onto the downward portion of the lid, and then drip from this surface into the portion you collect.
Fill a sandwich bag with ice and place it on top of the lid. I have found that keeping the ice in a sandwich bag, rather than directly on the lid, helps for an easy swap-out when the ice begins to melt. Plus, there’s less water all over your lid when it’s time to lift it.
Now it’s time to simmer. You will want your pot to simmer for about an hour. You will notice that as the pot simmers, condensation starts to form on the underside of the lid from the different temperatures of the ice and steam/heat interacting. Those condensation beads then drip down into your bowl catching the beautiful mint aroma in a water medium. This is such a cool science project! It is amazing how we are able to extract the plant’s volatile oils through distillation—and at home!
As the bag of ice begins to melt, simply swap it out often over the course of an hour. I went through about five sandwich bags of ice during the process.
After the hour is up, turn off the heat and carefully lift your lid to reveal a beautiful bowl filled with clear liquid. That clear liquid can then be transferred into a measuring cup. After an hour of simmering and condensation collection, you can expect about one cup of mint hydrosol.
I transferred my hydrosol into travel-size spray bottles. I put one in my bag when we are on the go. When we’re out on a hike, at the beach, or even just sitting under our tree in the front yard on a summer day, I can easily reach in my bag and grab something that is sure to cool us off! For an even cooler experience, I store my mint spritz bottles in the fridge to give it an extra refreshing effect.
This mint hydrosol will last a couple of months in the fridge—but don’t be surprised if you use it all up before then! This is the perfect timeframe to get you through those summer heatwaves. Plus, this mint spritz makes a great gift if you find yourself with bottles to spare.
Now that you can visualize making this mint spritz, here is a summary of steps for easy reference.
Mint Spritz Stovetop Hydrosol Recipe
This mint spritz, a homemade stovetop hydrosol, using mint, is just what you need to get you through summer! Plus, this mint spritz makes a great gift if you find yourself with bottles to spare.
Large handful of fresh mint – pick plenty!
2 cups of filtered/distilled water
Bag of ice to replenish 5 sandwich size bags
- Place a ramekin upside down inside a stockpot
- Sprinkle fresh mint in the pot, do not cover ramekin.
- Place small bowl on top of ramekin.
- Pour about 2 cups of water into the pot, do not submerge ramekin.
- Place stockpot lid upside down on the pot.
- Place a sandwich bag filled with ice on the lid.
- Simmer pot for about an hour.
- Change out sandwich bag of ice as it melts.
- After one hour, turn off heat, carefully remove the lid.
- Use clean oven mitts or silicon grip to remove the bowl of hydrosol liquid.
- Bottle hydrosol and store in the fridge.
This mint spritz can be sprayed liberally over your entire body. Give yourself a refreshing spritz on your face to cool down. Or, mist on the arms and chest—or one of my personal favorites—the back of the neck. Feel the mint cool your skin as the refreshingly chilled hydrosol lightly covers your body. Keep a mint spritz bottle in your bag when you’re on the go; you’ll be glad to have it on hand this summer!
I have a deep appreciation for the beauty and versatility of using plants and herbs for self-care. It is truly amazing how a common kitchen ingredient such as mint can be transformed right on your stove into a powerful cooling agent for the summer. As a student of herbalism, I am constantly in awe of the various ways you can turn to plants for help. This mint spritz recipe is an example of how an everyday item can be used in ways beyond what you are used to. I hope you try it out!
Bharate, S.S., & Bharate, S.B. (2012). Modulation of thermoreceptor TRPM8 by cooling compounds. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 3(4), 248–267. https://doi.org/10.1021/cn300006u
Herbal Academy. (n.d.). Mastering Herbal Formulations Course [Online Educational Program]. Retrieved from https://theherbalacademy.com/product/mastering-herbal-formulation-course-how-to-combine-herbs/