Sweetgrass – Hierochloe odorata
The origin of the name sweetgrass emanates from the Greek word “Hieros” which means sacred or holy, and “Chloe” which simply refers to grass. This grass grows abundantly in many parts of the world particularly North America but several other species are found in Greenland, Iceland, Northern Asia and Europe. It prefers marsh like wetlands to flourish.
In North America, it is best known for ceremonial purposes in Native culture to clear and purify the air in churches and other sacred or holy places.
The aroma is quite peculiar and similar to the freshness of cut grass or hay. In my opinion, it is the best natural plant which captures the scent of fresh rain. Unlike most herbs, sweetgrass aroma strengthens when the plant is dried. The plant does not produce an essential oil, but the hydrosol is quite fragrant.
Spiritual Purification – The properties of sweetgrass as a smudge are well known, but if producing smoke is not an option, then try using this hydrosol as a spray. Simply put some into a spray bottle and use liberally. You can use it full strength or dilute with water or add other hydrosols. Try adding some sage (first diluted in glycerine) for added aroma and potency.
Skincare – Great addition to creams and lotions. Provides a fresh aroma and astringent properties. Use with other hydrosols and / or glycerine as a toner to freshen or cleanse skin.
Hydrosols – A by-product from the distillation of essential oils. Most common are orange blossom, rose, lavender, rosemary and chamomile. If an essential oils has been distilled then its hydrosol exists. In most cases, hydrosols are very pleasant and friendly to the skin. These waters are mildly antiseptic, astringent, and lightly fragrant. They can be applied directly to the skin as a toner, mixed with creams, in facial compresses, lotions or used as a body splash. A great alternative to essential oils when treating children and are often referred to as the ‘gentle aromatherapy.’ When possible, use instead of just water. Conversely, a plant can be distilled which does not produce an essential oil, but does have aromatic and therapeutic properties such as witch hazel or sweetgrass.