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Technology for stabilization/processing of hydrolates and marketing possibilities for the products made of hydrolates

The purpose of the Fostering Agricultural Markets Activity (FARMA) is to provide technical assistance in Bosnia Herzegovina’s (BiH) agricultural (sub) sectors through demand driven assistance aimed at improved competitiveness of BiH agricultural products. FARMA is to expand environmentally sustainable production, processing and sales of value-added agricultural products. FARMA will help BiH to accomplish several critical objectives, such as increasing agricultural competitiveness, meeting EU accession standards, reducing poverty by expanding environmentally sustainable production, and increasing sales, exports, and employment.

Hydrolates, also known as hydrosols, or herbal or floral waters, are by-products resulting after processing of medicinal plants into essential oils. During this process, the herbs and flowers are distilled with spring water. The water is heated and presses itself through the plants as vapor, which collects the essential oils and other ingredients present. While distilling, the essential oils - which float on the surface of the water - are removed, leaving the hydrolate, which contains a small quantity of essential oil and other water-soluble agents from the plant. Hydrolates, if properly packed or stabilized, are easily used as they are or added to other products (food, pharmaceutical, medicinal). If used as they are, they should be used immediately; as skin tonic, facial cleansers, hair rinses, for aromatic baths, baby baths, on compresses or in sprays for freshening up the skin. They can also be used to replace, or partially replace, water in various skin care products along with other ingredients, in e.g. skin tonics, facial cleansers, face masks, creams, lotions or shampoos.

Hydrolates can be added to the final rinse water in the washing cycle as well as used as a fragrant linen spray whilst ironing since the smell is nicer than their synthetic counterparts. Around the house, hydrolates are great to refresh the air instead of using aerosols which are harmful to the environment. For all mentioned products, hydrolates should be processed in a special way and stabilized since they are very sensitive material and evaporate very easily and very fast.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina there are 6 bigger distilleries and a number of smaller ones. At least 2 more are developing capacities in order to increase distillation of Medical and Aromatic Pplants (e.g. UPIP Zepce and Eko Mozaik). Currently in BiH there is production of approximately 2.500 kg of different kinds of essential oils; immortelle 500 kg, sage 1000 kg, juniper 300 kg, white pine 200 kg, laurel 200 kg, smaller quantities of balm, lavender and other plants. Most of it is successfully exported throughout the world. Due to lack of knowledge on how to process and market hydrolates; it’s mostly treated as waste. Based on the internet research, the most valuable hydrolate in the market is the one made of immortelle (retail price ranges from 10 – 15 € for 100 ml; the price for bulk quantities ranges between 2, 5 – 3, 4 €). Also, there is demand for lavender, mint, balm, silver fir, rosemary hydrolates.

In order to produce 1 kg of immortelle essential oil, one needs 1 ton of fresh plant which gives between 12.000 and 24 000 litres of hydrolate, depending of the type and technology of distillation hence one could easily conclude that these products represent a large potential for the companies as well as for BiH economy.

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