When I think of rosewater, I picture a bathtub filled with water and rose petals. But as it turns out, rosewater is much more than a pretty, romantic tool; it is highly prized for its source of perfume, medicinal use and nutritional properties. In fact, rose essential oil is probably one of the most essential oils around. Cleopatra herself used rosewater in her beauty routine. Rose water has been used since 3000 BC; it was extremely valuable in Ancient Egypt and Persia.
Rosewater is basically a by-product of rose oil made through distillation of pure fresh rose petals. Rosewater contains over 300 different chemical compounds. It is loaded with antioxidants such as tannins, flavonoids and rich in essential vitamins like A, C, D, E and B3. It possesses antibacterial, soothing, healing and antiseptic properties. If you drink it as a therapeutic tea, it can help to enrich our body with useful nutrients and minerals. It can also help relieve digestive problems, relieve eye irritation and nervousness.
But mainly, rosewater is popular in many skin care routines. It soothes and improves the condition of dry and aging skin. It also purifies and cleanses your skin. In addition, rose water is very beneficial for hair; it increases blood flow to the scalp (which helps nourish and strengthen hair follicles).
How to make rose water
Option 1: Simmering Method
Dried rose petals (or fresh from an organic, pesticide-free source)
saucepan with lid
nut bag or several thicknesses of cheesecloth
dark bottle for storage (spray nozzle optional)
Measure 1⁄4 cup of dried rose petals into your saucepan. Use 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup if you are using fresh petals.
Pour 1 1⁄2 cups water into your saucepan.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce temperature to the lowest setting that still allows the water to simmer.
Simmer until the color of the rose petals has faded. Mine became almost colorless. This only took about 5-10 minutes.
Leave the lid on and cool completely.
Pour water and petals through the nut bag or cheesecloth into a dark, clean bottle. You can use a funnel or strain into a measuring bowl with a pour spout and then pour into your dark bottle.
Store in the refrigerator for several weeks or on the counter for up to one week.
Option 2: Distillation Method
dried rose petals (or fresh from an organic, pesticide-free source)
large stock pot with lid
clean brick (a real brick, from a house)
metal bowl or heat-safe glass bowl
dark bottle for storage (spray nozzle optional)
Place a clean brick down in the center of your large stock pot. I used an 8 quart stock pot and an average sized brick.
Put the metal bowl or heat-safe glass bowl on top of the brick.
Measure about 1 1⁄2 cups of dried rose petals into the stock pot. Put them down around the brick making sure not to get any into the bowl. Use 3-5 cups if you are using fresh petals and gently press them down so they are around the brick and under the metal bowl.
Pour water into the pot over the petals until it comes almost to the top of the brick.
Invert the lid and cover the stock pot. This will allow the steam to collect and drip down to the center of the lid and eventually drip into the bowl.
Put ice on the top of the lid to encourage the steam to condense and subsequently drop into the bowl. You can put it directly on the lid and suck the water off with a turkey baster as the ice melts or you can put the ice in a ziplock bag so it is easy to pull off and replace. You want to keep in as much steam as possible because the steam is actually your rosewater.
Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to the lowest heat possible that still allows the water to simmer.
Replace the ice as it melts and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Very carefully lift the lid so that none of your melted ice water falls into the pot.
Carefully pour the rosewater that has collected in the bowl into your dark bottle.
This will last much longer at room temperature (up to 6 months, although it doesn’t stick around that long in my house) but you could always store it in the refrigerator to be sure it keeps well.
I had some water left in the bottom of the pot when I was done. I strained out the petals and used this in a batch of soap. It didn’t have as strong of a smell but I couldn’t stand the thought of throwing it out.
Uses For Rosewater
There are so many ways to use rosewater. Here are some of my favorites.
One thing many people miss after they have made the switch to healthy options in beauty care is the scented aspect of commercial products. Often times those artificial fragrances are the selling point for perfumes, soaps, and shampoos, but they are also one of the more dangerous ingredients used in these products.
Rosewater makes a wonderful base for making substitutes for perfumed sprays. Natural shampoo, for example, leaves your hair clean and protects the natural balance of oils in your scalp, but doesn’t leave a lasting perfumed scent. You can make a simple hair perfume to add a touch of a floral scent to your hair. You can also just dab rosewater on your wrists and neck for a light hint of perfume.
Mix 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract with essential oils in a 4 oz glass spray bottle and fill to the top with rosewater. Spritz on your hair as it is drying and style as usual. This is also great for second (or third) day hair. Spritz a bit on to freshen up. Store in the refrigerator. My current favorite combination is:
4 drops Ylang Ylang
3 drops Rosemary
4 drops Cedarwood
5 drops Lavender
4 drops Grapefruit
4 drops Bergamot
Make a linen freshener by putting rosewater in a spray bottle. You can also add a couple drops of rose or lavender essential oil. Mist on your sheets before going to bed in the evening.
Another excellent use for rosewater is in your skin care routine. Rosewater helps balance the skin’s PH, reduces redness and irritation, tightens pores, and helps cool and soothe hot skin.
Store rosewater in a dark colored glass bottle. Add a drop or 2 of lavender or rose essential oil and apply to your face with a cotton ball after you shower or wash your face.
Store rosewater in a dark colored bottle with a fine mist spray top. You can keep it in your purse for on-the-go use or keep it in the refrigerator for extra cooling. Mist on face to cool skin and freshen up.
Mix equal parts rosewater and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray onto sunburned skin for relief.
Rosewater is also a wonderful mood enhancer. You can mist it on yourself in the same way you use the cooling spray and breathe in the scent to lift your mood. For a calming bath, add 1-2 cups to your bath water.
In Tea: Add rosewater to taste to your herbal tea.
Flavor Yogurt: Start with a teaspoon of rosewater for 1 cup of yogurt and add more to taste.
Lemonade: Add a splash to your lemonade for a complex flavor enhancer.