This article originally appeared in the NAHA Journal (Spring 2015.1) and is re-published here according to the NAHA Writer Guidelines 2015 copyright statement. If you would like to become a member of NAHA and enjoy more articles like this, please visit the NAHA website.
As I worked on editing this particular book with Ann Harman, I know that this journey has been a long one, and I am excited that Ann took time out of her busy schedule to give me some background information on the book. Here is a closer look at her book Harvest to Hydrosol.
Brief Overview of Harvest to Hydrosol by Sharon Falsetto
Harvest to Hydrosol is an unique book. To my knowledge, there isn’t another book like it currently on the market – and it is written by an “expert distiller” in the field, giving you confidence in the information contained within it. Essentially, the book is a “handbook,” or step-by-step guide to distilling your own hydrosols – and you don’t need a lot of equipment, a large amount of land, or plant material to get started.
Harvest to Hydrosol discusses the basics – from how to choose your still, to the different types of distillation, to how to still with success. There is also detailed information on the plants themselves – including common plant profiles, when to harvest, and chemotypes. Finally, Harman’s knowledge and years of experience shines through with the inclusion of Gas chromatography-Mass spectrometry (GC/MS) data, compiled from her own distillations over the years. If you want to know how to use your hydrosol, after you’ve distilled it, there is also a quick look at some of the uses of hydrosols.
My brief overview of Harvest to Hydrosol does not do the book justice, given the wealth of information that it contains. All I can say is – pick up a copy! But not before you read what the author, Ann Harman, has to say about her inspiration for writing the book, and her journey into publishing it.
A big thank you to Ann for her time taken for this interview.
Interview with Ann Harman
- What was the inspiration behind writing the book?
I wanted others to experience this wonderful craft. The waters captivated me from the very start. After experiencing hydrosols made in the traditional way I wanted to revive that ancient art and put it back in the hands of everyday folk. The waters are very powerful, yet very delicate at the same time. I believe that the waters you make yourself, or purchase fresh, are the most therapeutic. The “Act of distillation is simple, the Art of distillation is a journey” and one should not be afraid to give it a go!
- Who have been the most influential people in helping you achieve this goal – and why?
I couldn’t have completed this venture without my sweetheart John Booth. John kept me going when I wanted to give up, he encouraged me and supported me throughout the process. James Green was the first person to introduce me to the distillate waters at a United Plant Savers conference nearly twenty years ago. He doesn’t know what he started! Jeanne Rose has been my mentor for over sixteen years; she taught me the basics of distillation, encouraged me through my experiments, and pushed me to go further. She also introduced me to some of the old texts; we are both bibliophiles by nature. Once I started reading the ancient texts I wanted to experiment with the old recipes. I wouldn’t have been able to share all of this knowledge without the encouragement of my aromatherapy friends who gave me the confidence to share my passion.
- How long did it take you to complete the book – from conception to publication? What was the most difficult part of this journey?
The conception was there from the very start; but it took nearly two years to get pen to paper, editing, design and production completed. I chose to self-publish; I didn’t want others to have control over such a personal project. It was a huge emotional and financial risk but I think it will be worth it. The online publishers took too much away, in my opinion, so I found a wonderful book designer who helped me with production and printing. I reached out to the aromatherapy community and found two editors, Sharon Falsetto, and one of my students, Caryn Summers, to help me get the words to flow smoothly. All the marketing will be up to myself and the aromatherapy community.
- What was the overall goal of the book?
I wanted to take the fear out of distillation and show people that it can be as simple or difficult as you make it. You don’t have to invest $20,000 on a commercial still in order to make hydrosols and essential oils at home with plants you grow yourself. I hope that if one chooses to distill their own distillate waters they will find a whole new modality in their home medicine chest. These waters are gentle, powerful healing products and are accessible with a relatively small investment and time.
- Why do you prefer to distill hydrosols on copper stills? What is the attraction/benefit of copper stills?
I have an affinity for copper and I love the hydrosols that are distilled on copper. There is preliminary evidence that the copper that remains in the hydrosol after distillation may help to preserve them. I teach distillation workshops and we do side-by-side distillations on stainless stills and copper stills. I haven’t had a student yet who prefers the distillate from the stainless stills. There is something special about the distillates, perhaps not measurable with our current instruments, but special nonetheless.
- Do you see interest in hydrosols growing in the future?
I think that as more and more people experience what a hydrosol truly can be, their popularity will grow and grow. Think about the essential oil industry and how some of us vintage herbalists were introduced to low quality essential oils many, many years ago. Quality oils were not readily available as they are today so we didn’t know there was something better. It is the same with hydrosols, most have only experienced the byproducts of the essential oil industry and don’t realize there is another level available.
- And finally, where can we purchase a copy of the book!
The book is for sale on my website at www.copperstills.com for $44.95. Full cases of books may be purchased through the publisher at www.botannicals.com. It is also offered through many aromatherapy web-sites including NAHA.
About Ann Harman:
Ann Harman is an organic farmer who has been distilling plants for nearly two decades. Each year she teaches the Art of Distillation workshops, in addition to lecturing on hydrosols both nationally and internationally. Through her organization, Circle H Institute, she conducts research on hydrosols which she will one day lead us to a better understanding of these complex waters.
You can contact Ann through her website: www.botannicals.com
About Sharon Falsetto:
Sharon Falsetto is a UK-certified clinical aromatherapist who trained with Penny Price Aromatherapy. She has been living in the United States since 2006 and is the founder and owner of Sedona Aromatherapie. Sharon personally creates custom blends for individual requests, therapists, spas, weddings, and private label. She has written, and tutors, a home study aromatherapy certification program – including the 250 hours Certification in Professional Aromatherapy course – in addition to several shorter courses on making bath and body products; she is an approved education provider for NAHA, and an approved continuing education provider for NCBTMB. Sharon’s unique skill is professional writing, specifically for aromatherapy-related businesses, and she offers a professional writing service to this effect. She has written and edited books, e-books, articles, and website descriptions for both start-up and established aromatherapy businesses. Her aromatherapy book, Authentic Aromatherapy, was published in 2014. Sharon is the current chief editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal and a NAHA Director (Arizona).