You know that famed fountain of youth everyone always talks about? It may very well have been filled with rose petals. The rose features prominently in historical beauty texts, with Cleopatra famously having taken to the ritual of bathing in a rose petal-infused bath. Indeed, it was in the 10th century BCE that Persian scientist Avicenna refined and perfected the hydrosol, quickly pulling on the attention of European aristocrats. It didn’t take long for rose water to become a valuable trading commodity for the Persians, and for good reason.
Romans, who enjoyed scenting their wine with rose water, were quick to document the compound’s incredible healing properties. They found that it could heal more than 30 ailments, and their discovery quickly led to rose water becoming a sought-after medical ingredient for cultures all around the globe.
The healing benefits of rose water and rose oil
Who would have guessed there could be so many benefits to literally stopping to smell the roses? Make the most out of nature’s beautiful gift to the world by transforming it into rose water or rose oil. Here are some of the benefits you’ll reap:
The many benefits of rose water and rose oil
Being made from the same potent source, rose water and rose oil, not surprisingly, possess many of the same healing properties. These include:
- Antioxidant: The rose’s antioxidative properties fight free radicals that can damage the skin, such as those from stress or the sun’s powerful rays. Rose water and oil also strengthen skin cells and regenerate skin tissues.
- Antimicrobial: Due to the rose’s antimicrobial properties, it helps fight acne and other skin conditions.
- Anti-inflammatory: The rose’s anti-inflammatory properties treat all kinds of inflammatory ailments, including rosacea, eczema, and other forms of skin irritation. These properties also mean that the compound reduces skin redness, blotchiness and puffiness by tightening capillaries.
- Antiseptic: With its powerful antiseptic and analgesic properties, rose water and rose oil have long been used to treat a plethora of infections — even conjunctivitis! This also means that when used on open cuts and burns, it helps them heal faster.
- Antifungal: One study found rose oil to not only be antibacterial, but antifungal, protecting against fungal infections in the gut, mouth, and vagina.
- Anti-aging: When applied topically, rose water and rose oil possess anti-aging benefits, reducing wrinkles and fine lines.
- Mood enhancer: Scientists have discovered that rose extract relaxes the central nervous system in mice. Since then, another study tested the effects of rose aromatherapy on human subjects, and found that blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, cortisol levels, and blood oxygen levels all decreased. Thanks to the discovery, the medical world has been successfully experimenting with the use of rose extract in antidepressants and antianxiety treatments.
- Soothes sore throats: Rose water has traditionally been used as part of a cold and flu remedy regime, to provide its relaxant properties to help soothe irritated throats.
- Eases headaches and migraines: Also largely due to its relaxant properties, rose water vapour is said to ease headaches when inhaled. A rose water-soaked compress applied to the forehead has similar effects.
- Soothes sunburns: Rose water has cooling properties that soothe sore, tight skin as a result of sunburn, and as an added bonus, it also speeds up the sunburn’s healing process.
- Digestion enhancer: Rose water has long been used to aid digestion and reduce any kind of digestive upset. It is also said to improve bile secretion, which is another digestive aid.
- Balancing: Rose water balances the body and skin’s pH levels, making it an excellent toner when applied on the skin, and tonic when consumed orally.
- Hair and scalp conditioner: Rose extract is ideal in hair products, as it not only hydrates the scalp, but treats mild scalp conditions and dandruff, hydrates dry strands, and even revitalizes hair growth!
- Sleep enhancer: One study showed that rose aromatherapy improved sleep quality in subjects.
- Improvement of menopausal symptoms: Scientists discovered in a 2008 study that rose aromatherapy strengthened uterus function in subjects and generally improved most symptoms of menopause.
- Alleviate symptoms of PMS: Rose essential oil, when used in abdominal massage, was found to ease menstrual cramps.
- Aphrodisiac: Rose extract has been found to release dopamine in the brain, improving sex drive and feelings of intimacy.
- Spiritual enhancer: Rose oil is known to have the highest spiritual frequency of all the essential oils, and is said to strengthen and balance the heart chakra.
Benefits of making your own rose water and rose oil
Yes, it’s pretty easy to buy your own rose water and rose oil. The products can be found on Amazon, or even at your local health and beauty shop. But be warned — rose products do not come cheap! Considering it is so easy to make, with minimal equipment, the price of rose water and rose oil products is often quite surprising. Not only that, but the products off the shelf are often tainted with preservatives and other additives that can be harmful for your skin.
Logically, the purer the product, the more effective and gentle it will be on your skin and organs. And of course, purchasing the product simply adds to the plastic problem the world is facing, not only with the packaging, but also the shipping.
The good news is, it’s simple and straightforward, and inexpensive, to make your own rose water and rose oil. Even better — since you control what goes in (and what doesn’t go in!) to your product, you can be sure you’ll wind up with a 100% organic, pure rose product.
How to make your own rose water
Let’s start with rose water. As mentioned, it’s very easy to make, with minimal materials needed. Here is what you need to get started:
Materials for homemade rose water
|To get started making your own rose water, you’ll need fresh, organic roses, a large pot with lid, a bowl that fits inside the pot with sides that go high enough to stop the boiling water from spilling over, a spoonful of vodka, and an empty wine bottle.|
- Fresh, organic roses (at least 4): It’s best to make sure the roses you select are organic, so that you’re not polluting your skin with pesticide-tainted rose extract. You can also buy dried, natural organic roses on Amazon. We like these organic rose petals by TooGet.
- A large pot with lid: The lid should be slightly cone shaped, so that the water droplets fall down it when inverted. A flat lid will not work for this project. We like the Utopia Kitchen Quart Non-Stick Saucepan.
- Medium-sized bowl: The bowl should fit easily inside of your pot, with sides that are high enough so that the boiling water doesn’t spill over into the bowl during processing. We like this set of 3 Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowls.
- Empty wine bottle: We’ll show you how to get the label off later on, so you can use it to make a vessel for your rose water. Or just buy a label-less bottle. We like this set of six clear wine bottles with corks.
- Vodka: Just a tablespoon of the alcohol will help the rose water last far longer, and is even known to add pore tightening properties to the tonic.
- Strainer: A strainer will make it easy to separate the rose petals from the water you wash them in. We like this fine mesh stainless steel strainer.
- Funnel: A funnel will make sure you don’t spill any of the precious tonic when pouring it into your wine bottle. We like this silicone collapsible kitchen funnel two-pack.
- Bag of ice: This will help create more condensation when processing, which means more rose water, faster.
1. Peel your rose petals
|Gently peel the petals off your roses and place them into your empty pot.|
Peel your rose petals into your empty pot. Feel free to include the seeds inside, which will only make your rose water more potent.
💡Tip: Don’t worry about breaking or bruising your petals. They’ll be discarded once boiled.
2. Wash your rose petals
|Rinse your rose petals under fresh water.|
Wash your rose petals by running fresh water over them and allowing them to soak for a few minutes. Swirl them around in the water with your hands.
3. Strain your rose petals
|Either carefully pour the water from the bowl, or make your life easier by using a strainer to get all the water off them.|
Now that you’ve bathed your rose petals, you’ll need to drain the water from them. Tip the water from your pot and use your hands to keep the petals inside, or use a sieve/ strainer to dry them quickly and easily.
4. Place your bowl inside your pot
|Remove any petals from inside your pot, and place the medium-sized bowl inside.|
Place your medium-sized bowl inside your empty pot.
💡Tip: If you can’t find a bowl with sides that are big enough, place a brick inside your pot, and put the bowl on top of it.
5. Arrange your rose petals around the bowl
|Place your rose petals inside the pot, around the bowl in the center, being careful not to get any inside the bowl itself.|
Spread all of your rose petals evenly inside your pot, around the circumference of the bowl. Be careful not to spill any petals inside the bowl, nor should there be any underneath it.
6. Pour boiling water on the rose petals
|Pour enough boiling water on the rose petals to immerse them entirely.|
Place your pot on your stove, on medium heat, if you haven’t done so already. Boil water and pour it on top of the rose petals, being careful not to get any water in the bowl. Pour just enough to immerse them in the boiling water — it should come about halfway up the center bowl.
💡Tip: Some recipes call for distilled water so that you can be sure not to get any pathogens in your rose water, but simply boiling tap water should do the trick.
7. Wipe up any liquid inside your bowl
|Soak up any water you accidentally spilled inside your bowl when you were pouring in the boiling water.|
Use a paper towel to mop up any water droplets that made their way inside the bowl in the center of the pot. This should be bone dry for the next step. Be careful not to burn yourself on the surrounding boiling water.
8. Cover your pot with its lid, inverted
|Place your lid on top of your pot, upside down.|
Turn your lid upside down, and place it atop your rose petal-filled pot. The handle should be positioned in the middle of the bowl below, and make an inverted cone shape towards the middle. It will fog with steam as soon as you place it on the pot — this is a good thing.
9. Place your bag of ice on top of your lid
|Put your bag of ice on top of your inverted lid to increase condensation for more effective processing.|
Once your water has achieved a gentle boil, you can place your bag of ice on top of your lid. This step is optional and simply speeds up the process.
💡Tip: To stop your bag from dripping or breaking, put it inside a bowl, and place the bowl on top of your pot (I’m adding this in as my ice bag ripped and there was a lot of leaking!).
10. Keep an eye on your pot for the process
|This is what the rose water making process will look like.|
Once you’ve covered your roses in bowling water, and placed your inverted lid on top of your pot, the process begins. See those water droplets tumbling down the pot lid towards the middle? That’s your rose water, which will drip into the bowl in the center. Keep an eye on the boil to ensure it’s not too aggressive, so that the boiling water doesn’t boil over into your bowl in the middle. This bowl is for collecting the pure rose water.
11. Soak your wine bottle
|Soak your wine bottle in warm, soapy water to loosen the label.|
Immerse your wine bottle in warm, soapy water. This will not only clean it out, but also loosen the label. Soak for about 10 minutes. Once the label is loosened, use the edge of a spoon to peel it off completely. We’ll get off any residual glue in the next step.
12. Apply olive oil to the residual glue
|Use regular olive oil (or any other cooking oil) to easily remove any left over glue from the label.|
Apply olive oil or any other cooking oil to the bottle, where the label was. Scrub it with a paper towel to easily remove any glue that the label left behind when you peeled it off. Once that’s done, wash your bottle again to remove the oil from it, and dry it with paper towel. You’ll be left with a lovely clear glass bottle.
💡Tip: Spray glass cleaner onto the bottle once clean, for a streak-free, shiny finish.
13. Pour your rose water into your wine bottle
|After an hour, the inside of your pot should look like this, with brown/ grey petals, very little water around the bowl, and the central bowl nearly full with rose water.|
After about an hour of processing, your petals will have turned an ugly, shriveled grey/ brown colour, and most of the water will be gone from around the central bowl. Meanwhile, the bowl in the center should be nearly full.
|Use a funnel (I made a simple paper one but this silicone one from Amazon will be more effective) to transfer your rose water from your bowl to your glass bottle.|
Use an oven mitt to pick up the bowl and remove it from the pot, bot of which will be very hot. Allow it to cool. Once cool, use a funnel to pour the pure rose water from your bowl into your clear wine bottle.
💡Tip: Use a proper funnel for best results.
14. Stuff fresh rose petals into the glass bottle
|This is what the finished product will look like. Isn’t your homemade bottle of rose water simply beautiful?!|
This is an optional step. Stuffing fresh rose petals into the rose water-filled glass bottle adds to the aesthetic of the finished product.
💡Tip: Top your bottle off with a pretty stopper, cork, or even better, a spray nozzle.
Step back and admire your work. Isn’t it stunning? This makes an excellent gift, or indulge and keep it to use yourself!
How to make rose oil
Rose water is a fantastic tonic for the body and skin, but rose oil offers an even more concentrated, potent version of rose petal extract.
They say that it takes about 2,000 rose buds to produce one gram of rose oil, but we’re going to be using just three rose buds and a carrier oil. It’s not quite as pure, but it’s still very effective, and I’m guessing that you don’t have easy access to 2,000 rose buds…let alone the ability to process them.
Materials for homemade rose oil
- Medium-sized pot: You can use one that’s slightly smaller than the one you used to make your rose water, or simply use the same medium-sized pot we recommended above.
- Fresh, organic roses (at least 3): Once again, source organic rose petals, either from your garden, or buy them on Amazon. We like these organic rose petals by TooGet. Any colour will do — we like this yellow colour because it really shows how potent the oil is at the end!
- A carrier oil: Use an oil that isn’t too heavily scented, like coconut oil, olive oil, or grapeseed oil. The purer quality of the carrier oil, the better your rose oil will be. We like this fractionated pure coconut oil by Molivera Organics.
- Glass jar: You’ll need a glass jar (not pictured) to put your rose petals into for processing. We like this set of two Klikel Glass Canister Jars.
- Cheesecloth or muslin: A strip of cheesecloth or muslin will allow you to squeeze all the rose oil out of your flowers. We like this Olicity Grade 90 Unbleached Cheesecloth.
- Strainer: As with making your rose water, using a strainer to separate your rose petals from both the water bath and, later, from the oil in which they were stewing, will make your life easier. We like this fine mesh stainless steel strainer.
- Funnel: Grab a funnel to assist you in easily pouring your rose oil into your bottle of choice. We like this silicone collapsible kitchen funnel two-pack.
1. Peel and wash your petals
|Rinse and wash your petals to remove any dirt or other impurities.|
The first step is to peel your rose petals into your bowl, and run them under clean water. Stir them around with your hand in your pot to ensure all impurities are removed.
💡Tip: Include the seeds and all for an extra potent finished product.
2. Strain and dry your rose petals
|Strain your rose petals and pat them dry with paper towel.|
Once your petals are washed and clean, strain out your water and then empty the rose petals onto a paper towel. Place another paper towel over the top of the petals and pat them dry.
3. Put all your rose petals into your glass jar
|Transfer your clean, dry rose petals to your glass jar.|
Next, you’ll transfer your now clean and dry rose petals into your glass jar.
4. Douse your rose petals with your carrier oil
|Pour enough of your carrier oil into your glass jar to cover all the rose petals.|
Now you’re going to pour your carrier oil into your glass jar. Be sure to pour enough so that the rose petals are completely immersed with oil.
💡Tip: Don’t use sunflower oil, which is too fragrant for this task. Similarly, some coconut oil will be too heavily scented as well. Fractionated coconut oil, however, does not have any scent, so is ideal for this job.
|Your glass jar will look like this when you’re done.|
5. Fill your pot with boiling water, and place on medium heat
Boil some water and fill your pot about half way with boiling water. Place on the stove top on medium heat, allowing it to simmer.
6. Place glass jar into boiling water
|Place glass jar into boiling water and top up until covered.|
Put your rose petal- and oil-filled glass jar into the boiling water.
💡Tip: For best results, keep your glass jar standing up, and don’t place it on its side like I did, which resulted in some of the oil seeping out into the water.
7. Cover your pot and store
|Cover your pot with its lid.|
Now you’re going to put the lid on your pot, and store it somewhere it won’t be disturbed.
|Store your pot somewhere it can sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours.|
💡Tip: Try to place it on or near a heater. The warmer you can keep the oil, the better results you’ll get. Don’t store it somewhere cold like the refrigerator or the garage.
8. After an hour, bring your pot to boil once again
After about an hour, your pot will have cooled down. Bring it to boil once again. Put it back in its storage space for another 23 hours.
💡Tip: This step is optional but makes for a more potent oil.
9. Remove glass jar from pot
|After a full day, take your glass jar out of your pot. It will look something like this.|
Once another 23 hours have passed, take your glass jar out of your pot and observe. The petals should look “stewed” like in the photo above.
10. Strain the liquid into a bowl
|Transfer the oil from your glass jar to a bowl, using a strainer to capture the rose petals.|
Remove the lid from your glass jar, and get out a bowl and your strainer. Pour the oil into the bowl, using the strainer to capture your oil-soaked rose petals.
💡Tip: Use a larger bowl than the one pictured, to avoid oil spillage.
11. Wrap your petals in a cheesecloth or muslin and ring out
|Fill a cheesecloth or muslin with your petals and squeeze.|
Next, take your cheesecloth or muslin and fill it with your oil-soaked petals. Twist it into a ball and then squeeze out as much oil as you can into your bowl.
💡Tip: Just when you think you’ve got all the oil out, try squeezing a bit more. You’ll likely find you can get a lot more than you expected, and the oil at the very end is the most potent!
|Your oil will have turned the color of your rose petals, in this case, yellow. The more intense the color, the more potent your oil!|
|If you really squeezed as much oil as you could have out of your cheesecloth/ muslin, the remaining rose petals will look something like this when you unwrap them.|
Unwrap and toss what’s left of the rose petals from inside your cheesecloth or muslin. You’ll likely notice a very strong smell.
💡Tip: Save the rose petal paste and use it for a compress. Placing a warm rose petal compress on your forehead will help cure a headache or migraine.
12. Funnel your oil into your desired bottle
|Use a funnel to transfer your oil to your desired bottle, for your finished product.|
For the final step, you’ll select a vessel for your oil. This could be the glass jar you used to process it, or the container your carrier oil was in, or another bottle altogether. I used the container my carrier oil was in, and simply removed the label (following steps 11 and 12 from “How to make your own rose water” above).
Uses for your rose water and rose oil
There is a multitude of ways you can use your rose water and rose oil. Here are a few ideas:
Uses for rose water
- Spray onto your face as a toner to balance your skin
- Use instead of water in cooking and/or baking for not only more complex flavours, but also a healthier result
- Use as a mist to refresh linens
- Use as a hair rinse
- Freeze as ice cubes and add as flavoring to water or fruit drinks
- Add it to your bath (or, if you’re Cleopatra, fill your entire bath with the liquid gold)
Uses for rose oil
- Massage into face for a hydrating night serum that can replace night cream
- Place in oil burner during meditation or sleep to induce calm
- Use as a massage oil to ease menstrual cramps, symptoms of menopause, or for a completely different flavour, as a massage oil to massage your partner, to improve intimacy
- Rub into cuticles before bed to refresh your nail beds
- Massage into scalp and dry, split ends to revitalize hair growth, get rid of dandruff and dry scalp, and instantly hydrate your strands
- Dab on your third eye, throat, and heart chakra to deepen meditation
- Soak a cotton pad with rose oil and smear across your face to remove makeup from the face and neck before bed.