If you’re in the market for honeysuckle essential oils, make sure you do your research before buying the result that pops up when you do a search on Amazon.
Despite their centuries-long use in various healing processes, essential oils remain a relatively new category of retail products today. As a result, it can be hard to find accurate information about their use, benefits, and pharmacology.
Both online and brick-and-mortar retailers can be rife with confusing and contradictory language about the essential oils they sell. If you don’t do your research, it can be easy to find yourself paying for products that are inauthentic, low quality, and don’t provide the benefits you seek.
For its strong, sweet aromas, honeysuckle is one of the most sought after essential oils. Unfortunately, the honeysuckle plant—like lilac, jasmine, and other delicate flowers—is not strong enough to withstand the process of steam distillation.
For that reason, there is no such thing as 100% pure honeysuckle essential oil, but there are some great alternatives.
Why You Can’t Make Honeysuckle Essential Oil
Essential oils are created through a process called steam distillation. During steam distillation, plant material is exposed to temperatures as high as 100°C (about 212°F). Molecules of hot steam pass over and through the plant material, releasing essential oil molecules. These steam molecules carry the oil molecules to a cooler chamber where both substances condense into their liquid forms (water and essential oil). Since oils are not water soluble, they separate naturally.
Unfortunately, the aromatic molecules present in honeysuckle simply don’t lend themselves to the distillation process:
- Honeysuckle’s aromatic molecules are prone to thermal degradation, meaning that high temperatures can cause them to lose their aromatic properties.
- There are simply too few aromatic molecules in a given honeysuckle plant to make it economical to produce honeysuckle essential oil in any meaningful quantity.
Essential oils can also be produced using a process known as cold pressed extraction. Cold press, unfortunately, is really only appropriate for citrus fruits with oil-rich rinds that can withstand high pressure. The honeysuckle flower is simply too delicate to withstand this process, either.
Benefits of Honeysuckle
With all of this said, there are many reasons not to write off the benefits of honeysuckle simply because it can’t be distilled into an essential oil. While the science is still far from conclusive, people have harnessed honeysuckle’s naturally soothing properties in the treatment of all kinds of illness and discomfort for centuries.
Here are just a few of honeysuckle’s reported health benefits:
- Soothes indigestion, constipation, and other digestive disorders
- Relieves the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold, the flu, pneumonia, and other conditions
- Reduces the memory loss and cognitive functioning that comes naturally with age
- Promotes sweating to help cool down the skin in high temperatures
- Relieves itching and helps to reduce boils, sores, and other skin abnormalities
And it smells wonderful.
Two Great Alternatives to Honeysuckle Essential Oils
Here’s the good news: Even though honeysuckle can’t be extracted into an essential oil, there remain several methods by which we can harness its all-natural healing benefits.
Hydrosols—also known as hydrolats or floral water—are a byproduct of the steam distillation process. While distilling honeysuckle won’t, in practice, yield much in the way of essential oils, it will produce a lot of hydrosol.
What is a hydrosol?
A hydrosol is a colloid with particles of a flower or plant dispersed in the water. It’s easy to confuse hydrosols with infused water, but the two are chemically very different. Where infused water is a mixture of water and plant, a hydrosol is a wholly unique substance that is neither water nor plant but a combination of the two. The plant particles will never settle from the water and they can’t be separated by filtering, centrifuge, or other methods.
If you’re interested in learning more about the science behind hydrosols, biologist and researcher Dr. Petra Ratajc has written a great overview of the process for making them.
How to use honeysuckle hydrosols
Honeysuckle hydrosols are most effective when applied topically. Given the flower’s sweet bouquet, we like to use honeysuckle hydrosols in a spray bottle as a refreshing and hydrating facial spritz.
Honeysuckle hydrosols also make for a great hot or cold compress to treat skin irritation. Its astringent properties can help shrink pores and reduce acne and blemishes.
Where to buy honeysuckle hydrosols
Honeysuckle hydrosols can be hard to find online and in stores. Ironically, this is because honeysuckle essential oils are so difficult to make and hydrosols are a byproduct of the essential oil distillation process. In other words, hydrosols are only made when you’re trying to make essential oils, and not many are trying to make essential oils.
Here are a few of our favorite honeysuckle hydrosols from brands we trust:
- Garden of Wisdom Honeysuckle Hydrosol
- Nature in a Bottle Honeysuckle Hydrosol
- Tamara’s Herbes Honeysuckle Hydrosol (Etsy)
Honeysuckle Fragrance Oils
What is a fragrance oil?
We’ve written about fragrance oils before. Fragrance oils are synthetic (man made) alternatives to all-natural essential oils. Many fragrance oils—particularly those from the outstanding P&J Trading—are able to produce more authentic scents than their essential oil counterparts. This is because fragrance oils are designed to emulate these natural scents.
Essential oils, on the other hand, are made up only of the non-water soluble molecules that survive the steam distillation process. Many aromatic molecules are simply too large to survive steam distillation, resulting in EOs that sometimes don’t smell quite like the real thing. This won’t be a concern with fragrance oils.
Because they use synthetic materials rather than natural plant material that must be grown and harvested, fragrance oils also tend to be much less expensive than essential oils.
How to use honeysuckle fragrance oils
For all the advantages that synthetics have, they also have their downsides. Specifically, fragrance oils can be used for a much narrower set of purposes than essential oils can.
As the name would imply, fragrance oils are mainly used cosmetically for their fragrance. The synthetic chemicals used to produce fragrance oils don’t carry any of the therapeutic benefits that natural essential oils do, so fragrance oils are best suited for people who simply enjoy their wonderful smell.
Diffusion is our favorite way to consume honeysuckle fragrance oils. Dilute a few drops into your favorite diffuser and let the sweet aromas of honeysuckle buds dance in the air.
It also makes a great ingredient in home cleaners, shampoos, and soaps, brightening the task and leaving a gentle waft of sweetness in its wake.
Where to buy honeysuckle fragrance oil
Fragrance oils are much more commonly available than hydrosols and other natural alternatives. I’ve already discussed how fragrance oils fetch much more affordable prices than their essential oil counterparts. But it’s important to prioritize quality when you’re shopping for that perfect scent. This is particularly true when shopping online.
There’s a wide range of fragrance oil providers out there, so it’s important to do your research and make sure what you’re buying is an authentic reproduction of the natural scent. Too often we see bargain hunters surfing Amazon for the cheapest fragrance oils they can find. As a result, they end up with oils that don’t smell like the real thing and might even be toxic.
Our three favorite brands of essential oils are P&J Trading, Barnhouse Blue, and Eternal Essence. These providers have gone above and beyond in crafting highly accurate fragrances using non-toxic materials.
We’ve ranked our favorites here:
- P&J Trading Honeysuckle Fragrance Oil
- Barnhouse Blue Honeysuckle Fragrance Oil
- Eternal Essence Honeysuckle Fragrance Oil
Honeysuckle is among the most beautiful and aromatic flora that exists. Its delicate pedals exude a profound and bright sweetness that’s truly unmistakable and endlessly soothing.
While it’s unfortunate that honeysuckle essential oils can’t be made using the methods available to us today, hydrosols and fragrance oils provide an outstanding substitute. Hydrosols are 100% pure plant material and can be used topically to harness many of the healing properties of the honeysuckle plant. Fragrance oils are synthetic and while they don’t convey healing properties, they provide really robust and authentic reproductions of the natural scent of these very special plants.