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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rose water

We are blessed to have three varieties of heirloom roses in our yard that smell heavenly. One is a lovely deep pink vintage bush that is over one hundred years old, another is a pale pink hedge rose that came from my grandfather's house, and the third is a wild vining cottage rose that has been passed from one family to another to another because it grows so rapidly.

One way to preserve the aroma of these beautiful flowers is to make your own rose water. The old method is quite effective and very easy to do.

You'll need:
2-3 quarts of rose petals (be sure they are pesticide and chemical free)
an old fashioned speckled granite canner with lid or a large kettle with a stainless bowl big enough to seal the top of the kettle.
a fire brick that will fit in the bottom
a heat resistant glass bowl

Place the canner on the stove. Put the fire brick on the bottom of the canner.

Gently bruise your rose petals and scatter them loosely in the canner around the sides of the brick. Add water to barely cover the petals.

Place the glass bowl on top of the brick.

Invert the canner lid and put it on top of the canner. Bring the water to a boil and immediately reduce to simmering. Add 2-3 trays of ice to the top of the inverted canner lid to cause the rose water steam to condense on the bottom of the lid.

Because the inverted lid is curved down into the kettle, the condensation will drip into the glass bowl. What you are doing is essentially distilling the rose essence leaving you with rose water and possibly some rose essential oil in your bowl.
Here's a cut away sketch of what that looks like.  Read more about making herb waters or hydrosols in Herbal Medicine Chest - Lotions, Creams and Hydrosols
Continue to gently simmer for 30-40 minutes. Store your rose water in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge. Varying reports on the shelf life say that the rose water will keep from one month to one year. If it develops a sour smell or taste it's time to discard it and start fresh. Since rosewater you buy at the store is not refrigerated, I'd like to try sealing the hot water in a mason jar. My only fear is that it will spoil and I'll lose my precious batch for the year.

Rose water can be used in cooking and cosmetics. Besides the lovely aroma, rose water is mildly astringent making it a great facial freshener for dry or sensitive skin types. I've added it to moisturizers and cold creams with great results. If you have a good recipe for Turkish delight, you know that rose water is a traditional flavoring. I recently found a recipe for rose water shortbread cookies that I'm hoping to try out soon.

Sharing this link with Alphabe-Thursdays @ Jenny Matlock.


  1. I know the fragrance is devine and no hidden harmful chemicals!

  2. I don't have any roses in our garden. Your recepe looks nice !

  3. Now that's why my 'rose water' was never very nice! I had know idea you did more than add water to petals!

  4. How very clever.
    Especially the ice condensing method. Such a detailed description of the procedure.
    Strange that there is no trace of colour left in the liquor.
    I like the image of you sitting there on the porch preparing the petals.

  5. @jocodeane Thanks! That's actually my daughter who looks much better in photos than I do! ;)

  6. This was really interesting. I never knew that rose varieties were passed on as heirlooms before. Pretty neat!


  7. good method to keep the scent alive

  8. Ooh, what a great post :)

  9. Great tutorial! Have never tried roses and your photos are wonderful!

  10. @Theresa PlasThank you, Theresa! It was fun to do this with my daughter!

  11. This is so interesting! I never knew how this was done.

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. I'm afraid I would never get enough petals from the one fragrant rose in my yard!!

  13. @Barbara Rosenzweig Hello! I couldn't find your email so I'm replying here to welcome you! I hope you find some interesting stuff! Going to check out your blog.....

  14. It never occurred to me to make my own rose water! I'll have to try this!
    Thank you!

  15. I bet your rose water smells amazing! The petals are absolutely gorgeous!

  16. This is so exciting. I will try this in the fall when the roses start blooming like crazy again!

    I would never have thought this is how to make rosewater. You could package this up so prettily for gifts, too!

    Thanks for a wonderful, wonderful link this week.

    I'm totally excited! I bookmarked this link to my crafts folder!

    Thank you again!


  17. @JennyOh, our roses bloom in the spring! Let me know how it turns out!

  18. Hi,

    You have a loads of very interesting stuff here! I am an artist and designer and am currently onto label designs, that's how I came across your website. I'd love to know more about what you do . . . Wish you a LOVELY day! Mike : )

  19. hi! do you think it would it be possible to use a regular old red brick if a fire brick can't be found?

  20. Hi, I've been looking up how to make rose water and al the different ways for a few weeks now and when I got roses for Mother's day I was super excited because now I had roses to make rose water. After doing some research it seems that the way you explained is the best way so last night I made it! Now here's the problem it doesn't smell beautiful like everyone said it should!?!? I don't even know how to explain the smell... it smells kind of earthy kind of like the water that was in the vase with the roses is the best way I can describe it. Can anyone help me to why this might of happened and how do I make the yummy beautiful smelling rose water like everyone explains? Thankyou and God bless

    1. Hi, Megan. I'm sorry you are disappointed in your rose water. Roses from the florist never seem to have the wonderful smell that I expect but they sure are beautiful! The roses I used in my rose water were from my bushes. Most of them are wild roses that are very fragrant. But you should have some rosey scent to your water. What may have happened was that to steam was too hot and "scorched" the scent (the essential oil of the rose is where the scent comes from and is very volatile) or you may have used too much water. If that's what happened the scent might be diluted and hard to smell. Did you only use the petals? You could try chilling the rose water that you made to see if the scent might come through more. Don't be discouraged...try it again! Keep me posted.


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