A hydrosol is the aqueous by-product of steam distillation, one of the processes used to make essential oils. While many people are familiar with essential oils and their uses in aromatherapy, cooking, perfume-making, etc., the hydrosol has an equally important place in herbalism.
You may know these hydrosols by the name “flower waters.” An ancient favorite is rose water, and it is surprisingly simple to make.
The uses for rose water are many. From a medicinal standpoint, the astringent and anti-inflammatory properties make rose water ideally suited for skin complaints, such as acne and eczema. Rose water also possesses antioxidants which rejuvenate aging skin. It is said that Cleopatra herself used rose water as part of her beauty regimen.
Rose water has household uses as well. Spritzing a little rose water on your linens and curtains will give them a light, fresh scent with no worries about dyes or chemicals that might stain or damage them.
A gentle mouthwash can also be made from rose petals, but using the decoction method rather than the hydrosol method. See my previous post, Colorado’s Own Oregano: A Recipe for Bee Balm Mouthwash, for more instructions on how to make a mouthwash.
Rose Water (Hydrosol)
Dried rose petals (at least 1 cup)
Put a heavy object with a flat surface such as a brick in the bottom of a large stock pot. I actually used an inverted metal measuring cup without the handle and it worked quite well. Fill the pot with water nearly to the edge of the brick or whatever you are using, but do not submerge it. Put in at least a cup of rose petals, more if you want a stronger distillate. Place a heat-proof bowl or Pyrex measuring cup on top of the brick. Bring the water to a simmer over medium low heat. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid that is inverted. Now, fill the inverted lid with ice cubes (see above image). Let the mixture steam for thirty minutes. Remove the lid, and you will find your bowl/Pyrex is filled with clear, fragrant water. Remove the distillate and allow it to cool, then bottle it.
I should mention that the above method can be used with any dried flowers. The rose water is particularly delightful when chilled and spritzed lightly on the face as a toner or to set makeup.
Your home-made rose water, along with some Lavender Rose Bath Fizzies, would be a grand start to a lovely holiday gift basket, don’t you think?