Rose water has been used for thousands of years, starting in the Middle East, where they blended roses and H2O for beauty, food and drinks. Roses have long been revered for their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, while water has been proven over and over again to improve metabolism and flush toxins from the body.
From making lattes to soothing sore throats, rose water can be used for many things, but it’s especially buzzy in skin care. The long list of benefits includes: tightening pores, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, hydrating and softening skin and reducing redness. Whether you’re adding it to your shampoo, toner or even body lotion, it’ll give your skin an extra boost in moisture.
And the best part about it? It’s really easy to DIY. We’re teaching you how to make rose water at home using three inexpensive methods below, but first, a lesson in choosing the right roses.
Choosing rose petals
We don’t all have a rose garden just waiting to be plucked, so buying fresh roses from your local flower shop will do. It’s important to make sure the organic roses are chemical-free and pesticide-free. (You can also buy dried rose petals in a pinch.) When choosing specific roses, lean toward English roses, cabbage roses or French roses.
Fragrance can also play a big role in what color roses you choose. Pink and red roses have a stronger scent and have more petals, while other roses (yellow, white and orange) often give off whiffs of violet, lemon or clove.
Now, let’s get to it.
3 Ways to Make Homemade Rose Water
1. The Simmering Method
Simmering is the easiest (and quickest) way to make rose water. Start by grabbing your rose petals, distilled water, a large pot, a strainer, measuring cups and a sealed container (jar or spray bottle).
- Prep the roses
Remove the petals from the stems until you have ½ to 1 cup of fresh petals (¼ cup is plenty if you’re using dried). FYI, 1 cup of fresh petals is equal to about 2 to 3 full flowers. Once you have your desired amount, clean the petals with tap water to get rid of any dirt or bugs.
- Add petals and water to the pot
Submerge the petals in just enough water to cover them (about 1 ½ cup). Anything more will dilute the rose water. (Psst, you can use filtered water if distilled isn’t an option.)
- Turn the burner to medium
Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a simmer. Once it starts simmering, cover and reduce to a lower setting. Leave for 15 to 30 minutes or until the petals have lost their color (they should be a pale pink). Turn the heat off, leave the lid on and let it cool completely.
- Strain the mixture
You can use a strainer (adding a nut milk bag or muslin cloth for a better concentrated color) to separate the petals and your new rose water. When you’re done, discard the petals.
- Place rose water in a sealed container
Using a spray bottle or jar is the best way to store the rose water. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month, and in your bathroom cabinet for up to one week.
2. The Distilling Method
Distilling is the more traditional way of creating rose water. It's more time consuming, but has a clearer color and even more natural benefits than the simmering approach. Before starting, grab your rose petals, ice, a glass bowl, distilled water, a large pot (with lid included), a strainer and a sealed container.
- Prep the roses
Remove the petals from the stems (the more, the merrier with this method). Remember: One cup of fresh petals is equal to about 2 to 3 full flowers. Once you have your desired amount, clean the petals with tap water to get rid of any dirt or bugs. (Dried flowers can also be used.)
- Prepare the large pot
Place a small bowl (or ceramic saucer plate) in the center of a large pot. If the bowl isn’t elevated enough to meet the pot’s edges, use another bowl or anything heat-tolerant to lift it up. This will act as leverage for the pot lid.
- Add petals and water around the glass bowl
Place petals into the pot and around the bowl before adding the distilled water (making sure not to enter either inside the bowl.) Take the pot lid and face it upside down (opposite of how you normally put it on), then place it onto the pot. The lid is used to trap steam inside the pot.
- Place some ice on top of the lid
The ice will create condensation inside the pot and help to accelerate the steam. The rose-infused condensation will collect on the underside of the pot lid, then drip down inside the clean bowl, giving you a more pure, concentrated rose water. As the ice starts to melt, remove the water and continue to add more ice. (Use a turkey baster to help collect the melted water without removing the lid.) Once the water inside the pot starts to boil, reduce the heat and allow the water to simmer. It’ll take about 20 to 25 minutes or until the rose petal color fades.
- Pour rose water in a sealed container
Turn off the heat and wait for the mixture to cool before removing the lid, making sure no remaining ice cubes or water drips into the bowl. Remove the bowl from the pot before pouring the rose water into a glass jar or spray bottle. Store in the fridge up to six months (depending on your usage), or in the bathroom cabinet for about a week.
- Strain the mixture
Although the distillation method is complete after pouring your mixture in a sealed container, you can also strain the rose water that was collected around the bowl too. Use a strainer to separate the petals from the liquid (similar to the simmering method.)
3. The Crushing Method
Here you’ll follow similar steps to simmering, but the way you prepare your roses will be different. This method can also be used to create a larger quantity of rose water.
Gather your roses, distilled water, a large pot, a strainer and a mortar and pestle.
- Prep the roses
Remove the petals from the stems until you have ½ to 1 cup of fresh petals (¼ cup is plenty if you’re using dried). Once again, 1 cup of fresh petals is equal to about 2 to 3 full flowers. Once you have your desired amount, clean the petals with tap water to get rid of any dirt or bugs.
- Create two piles
Divide clean petals into two equal piles. Crush the first pile in the mortal and pestle to extract the juice. The second pile will be used later for more consistent coloring.
- Transfer to a bowl
Place the crushed juice (and left over crushed petals if there are any) into a bowl. Let it sit for 2 to 3 hours for the liquid to thicken. Mix in the remaining petals and let it sit for an additional 24 hours at room temperature.
- Place the mixture in a ceramic saucepan
Don’t reach for a metal pot (it’ll take away the oils and affect the coloring of your rose water). Set the heat to low and bring it to a simmer. Once you see bubbles, remove it from the stove and pour the rose water through a strainer.
- Transfer to a container
Seal and leave it in a sunny spot like a windowsill for 2 to 3 hours. The sunlight will draw out the natural oils.
How to Use Rose Water
Like we mentioned above, rose water has many benefits. Here's how we suggest incorporating it in to your daily routine.
- Toner. You can use it as a toner by combining the rose water with more distilled water. (It’s optional to add a few of your favorite essentials oils.) Just apply it to clean skin using a cotton ball and continue your skin-care routine as normal.
- Bath time. Adding rose water to your bath is great for hydration and relaxation.
- Perfume. It also works as a natural perfume (a blend of rose water, essential oils and vanilla extract).
- Cooling mist. Store it in a spray bottle and spritz on whenever you need to wake-up your skin.
- Soothe irritated skin. Aside from the scent benefits, mixing rose water with apple cider vinegar can also help soothe skin irritations (sunburn, eczema or rosacea).
- In food. Your new mixture isn’t only used for beauty purposes. Just a teaspoon in your tea, yogurt or lemonade can provide you with vitamins and healthy minerals from the inside out
- Linens. Mist on sheets and towels to keep them fresh.
Time to stop and simmer the roses.