By nature, they are hydrophobic which means you can not mix them in water (pretty much fourth grade science, huh?)
But with the increase in usage of organic essential oils in diffusers, humidifiers, room sprays etc, people started wondering if making essential oils dissolve in water can make their application easier.
As a result, a lot of suppliers and manufacturers now take these pure essential oils and treat them with additives. This enables them to easily mix in water.
You can call the resulting fragrance oils water soluble essential oils.
These oils have more quantity of additives and less of pure essential oil.
As a result you will see a lot of stores (even on amazon) selling big bottles at a one fourth of the cost.
How Are Water Soluble Essential Oils Made?
Each manufacturer has her/his own way of creating water based essential oils but I am going to talk about the high level steps that most of them follow.
To make water soluble essential oils, distillers take pure essential oils and break their components into even smaller particles.
Consider this to be the first step. For all my science speaking folks here, this is emulsification
2. Adding Emulsifiers Or Surfactants
The manufacturers then coat the particles with external agents (emulsifiers or surfactants) which can easily mix with both oil and water
In simple terms, they prevent the oil drops from separating from water by reducing viscosity and surface tension of the oil.
Next, they mix the oils properly to spread out the oil molecules evenly in water based medium.
This step is important to achieve a consistent aroma or fragrance in the resulting fluid.
4. Quality Check & Packaging
Then they check the processed water soluble essential oil for quality and bottle it up to sell in the market.
Points to remember:
You require scientific knowledge of chemistry along with sound understanding of manufacturing techniques to make water based essential oils.
Every manufacturer has their own set of steps and materials. Hence don't treat this as a generalized process.
Some even use plant based and natural emulsifiers to keep the product free from chemicals while others use alcohol instead of emulsifiers.
Water Soluble Essential Oils Vs Pure Essential Oils - Understanding the Difference
The first difference, as the name suggests, is that you can mix the former in water whereas you would not be able to do so with the latter.
This makes pure essential oils a little more difficult to work with when using for water based applications.
The second difference is in terms of extraction process.
To obtain traditional essential oils, you need to steam distill various plant parts like flowers, twigs, leaves, roots, resin etc.
Whereas you can obtain water soluble essential oils by processing your traditional oils with additives and emulsifiers.
The third difference I want to talk about is about purity and health benefits. Natural essential oils are free from any chemicals and additives, which also means you can use them freely for therapeutic purpose and health benefits. Let’s not forget that you can use them to manufacture pharmaceutical and neutraceutical products.
Price is another important factor when we talk about the difference between water soluble essential oils and pure essential oils.
The former has very low content of pure oil and is loaded with additives. As a result, stores sell them at comparatively lower prices. You will find most stores offering big bottle of these oils at a significantly lower cost.
Usage and Applications
While traditional essential oils are used for aromatherapy massages, skin care, hair care, perfumery, inhalation etc, water based ones are mostly used for creating water based sprays.
What are Water Soluble Essential Oils Used For?
Just like their pure friends, you can use water based oils also for a wide variety of applications. Some of the uses are listed below. You will get a kick start and get your creativity flowing.
1. Room sprays
Create amazing room sprays and bring a dash of luxury in your space. You can play around with scents and craft different scents for different occasions.
2. Body mists
No need to splurge on store bought body mists, you can create your own mists with just a few oils and some simple steps.
3. Aromatherapy sprays
You can now even bring aromatherapy benefits in your life! Make simple diy aromatherapy sprays to calm your mind and bring peace.
4. Water soluble essential oils for humidifiers and diffusers
Love using essential oils in humidifiers and diffusers? Are you not able to get uniform aroma as the oils don’t blend?
Water based essential oils can help you out. Having said that, I also want you to remember that these are treated oils and diffusing these oils around you means you are also diffusing and breathing the used emulsifiers. So use it wisely.
I personally am not a big fan and prefer diffusing pure essential oils only.
5. DIY Cleaning Products
This is undoubtedly my favorite application. I love to create DIY simple cleaning products with these oils and make my home sparkly clean and fresh.
Are There Any Natural Water Soluble Essential Oils That Are Safe?
All this talk about emulsifiers, alcohol and additives might have left you wondering if there are any natural water soluble essential oils? Something that you can use without worrying about chemicals.
There is a simple and cost effective solution.
Hydrosols, or floral waters are 100% natural plant extracts that are a by product of steam distillation of essential oils.
During the process of distillation, when the steam cools down, it turn into aromatic water. This water is called hydrosol and contains therapeutic benefits of the plant part it is obtained from.
They do not contain any additives and are completely pure water based extracts. You can easily dissolve hydrosols in water and craft mists, sprays, or even use them for facial steam.
And because they are natural, they are good for your skin too. Rose water is an example of hydrosol and you can find it almost everywhere.
Water based essential oils are gaining a lot of attention as they can make the process of using essential oils in water based recipes very simple for you. However I want you to think if they can cause more harm than good. I would rather suggest using hydrosols or floral water in those recipes to get the best results.
Which essential oils are water soluble?
Any essential oils like cedarwood, rosemary, sage, allspice etc that has been processed with emulsifiers or alcohol can be made water soluble. Naturally, hydrosols or floral waters extracted during steam distillation of essential oils can be another example of water soluble essential oil.
What makes essential oil water soluble?
Naturally, pure essential oils float on water and do not dissolve. Addition of additives like emulsifiers, surfactants or alcohol to these pure oils makes them soluble in water. This is how you can dissolve essential oils in water.
Is Doterra water soluble?
No, naturally doterra oils are not water soluble.
What are water soluble essential oils for diffusers and humidifiers?
You can buy any water based oil and add them to your diffuser or humidifier. However, I would recommend using hydrosols or floral water as water soluble essential oils for diffuers because they are 100% natural, pure, plant based and better for your and your loved ones well being.