See how to make DIY rose water at home and learn the benefits and uses of rose water for skincare, hair care, aromatherapy, and cooking. The easy rose water recipe shows how to make rose water with an easy infusion method and includes tips for how to preserve rose water plus free printable labels.
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
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DIY rose water
After sharing many skincare recipes that use rose water as an ingredient, it’s high time that I showed you how to make your own rose water at home. With just 3 simple materials, you’ll love this DIY rose water recipe for your bath and body products and aromatherapy benefits.
You’ll learn how to make homemade rose water, as well as the benefits and uses of rose water. We also talk about why it’s important to preserve your rose water and how to achieve a pretty pink color.
I hope you find this post helpful, and please leave any questions in the comment section.
What is rose water?
Rose water is a rose-scented liquid prepared from rose petals. The floral water can be colorless or pink and carries bioactive compounds of the rose. Rose water can be made in different ways. The most common methods for how to make rose water are:
- Distillation (distill method): True rose water or rose hydrosol is traditionally made by distilling fresh rose petals with steam. The vapor release plant constituents from the flower petals. The stem is then cooled and condenses to water that now contains these constituents. My friend Rebecca has a tutorial showing how to distill rose water on her blog Soap Deli News.
- Infusion (simmer method): Rose-infused water is obtained by steeping rose petals, giving you rose tea. This is the technique I’m going to teach you in this post.
- Extraction: For this method, rose petals and water (or water + alcohol) are placed in an airtight container and stored away for a while. The water acts as a solvent and extracts the rose compounds from the botanical matter.
- Dilution: Rose water can also be created by diluting rose essential oil in water with the help of a solubilizer. Rose water with essential oil isn’t rose water in the strictest sense of the word.
What’s the difference between rose water and rose hydrosol?
You’ll often find that the words rose waterand rose hydrosol are used interchangeably. I do it all the time. However, there’s a difference that relates to the method of extraction.
True hydrosols are the condensed plant water and only ever made via distillation, no other method. Hydrosols are usually by-products of essential oil distillation and contain trace amounts of the essential oil.
However, the umbrella term rose water isn’t exclusive to steam-distilling and includes rose-infused and rose-diluted floral waters.
While rose hydrosol is always clear, rose-infused water or rose tea can have a pink or reddish shade depending on the color of the petals. Scent-wise, rose hydrosol tends to have a stronger rose smell, whereas a rose infusion has a delicate rose aroma.
Refer to this article from Formula Botanica to learn more about the differences between hydrosol and herbal waters.
Rose water benefits
I could go on all day about how much I love rose hydrosol, but you probably prefer what science has to say about the benefits of rose water. Thankfully, the rose water benefits have been researched in several studies, so we don’t rely on anecdotal evidence alone.
The positive effects of rose water for skin care and wellbeing are abundant:
- Skin-soothing: Research shows that rose hydrosol can soothe and inhibit skin inflammation caused by microbes, thanks to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. The flower water can help to ease itchiness, swelling, redness and might improve eczema and rosacea.
- Hydrating: Rose water provides hydration in skin and hair care formulations.
- Antioxidant: Rose water contains tocopherol (vitamin E), which is known for its antioxidant effects. Antioxidants fight oxidative stress, reduce signs of skin aging, and rejuvenate the skin.
- Astringent: As a natural astringent, rose water can improve the appearance of enlarged pores and has a rejuvenating effect by tightening the tissue.
- Stress-reducing: Another study showed that inhaling natural rose aroma significantly reduces stress. Research also showed that the scent can alleviate feelings of anxiety and worry.
- Mood enhancing: Besides being calming, I also find the fragrances of roses incredibly uplifting and balancing.
And how does rose water do all that? Well, it all comes down to the chemical composition of rose water. The main constituents of rose hydrosol are phenyl ethyl alcohol, citronellol, and geraniol. These compounds are bioactive, meaning the molecules have an effect on the body. They are also responsible for the typical rose smell.
Rose water ingredients
The beautiful thing about homemade rose water is the simplicity. You’ll only need 3 easy-to-find ingredients, and you’re on your way to making rose water at home.
- Rose petals: You can’t make DIY rose water without rose petals. Either grab a few fresh roses from your garden or use dried rose petals – the infusion method will work with both. I’ll talk more about fresh vs. dried rose petals below.
- Distilled water acts as the solvent and carrier for all the benefits we’ll be extracting from the rose petals. I prefer distilled water because it’s pure and free of any additives. However, if distilled isn’t an option for you, use filtered tap water instead.
- Preservative: A preservative will protect our rose concoction from mold, bacteria, and yeast. All the little nasties we don’t want to see in our rose water recipe. Read on to find out more.
Supplies to make rose water at home
You’ll also want to grab the following tools and supplies:
How to preserve homemade rose water
Like any other water-based (hydrous) product, rose water is prone to microbial contamination. And unless you plan to use your DIY rose water within a few days, you must preserve it.
I can hear your question. Preservative in rose water? But wait… isn’t store-bought rose water usually free of preservatives and other additives? How’s that possible, and why can’t I do the same at home?
Yes, it’s true that commercially produced hydrosols are often preservative-free (just FYI, some do contain preservatives). You see, commercial hydrosols are distilled with professional equipment in a perfectly sterile environment. The hydrosol is still extremely hot when it’s bottled, minimizing any chances of contamination.
We can’t recreate this situation in our kitchen and need to preserve our homemade rose water. I’ve plowed through dozens of books and articles online and found 4 ways for how to preserve rose water naturally.
The first two ideas are from Skin Chakra, who have put together a super insightful article on preserving hydrosols.
Preservatives for rose water
You have the following options to inhibit the growth of microorganisms in your natural rose water:
- Citric acid: According to Skin Chakra, adding just 0.1% citric acid to your rose water is enough to preserve it. The acid lowers the pH of the floral water, making it uninhabitable for microbes. Citric acid is the best preservative if you want edible rose water for drinks and cooking.
- Citric acid + potassium sorbate: To prevent mold and other fungi from growing in your rose water, use 0.15% potassium sorbate and 0.1% citric acid. Both potassium sorbate and citric acid are natural products and perfect to preserve DIY rose water naturally.
- Alcohol: A third idea is to preserve rose water with high-proof alcohol, for example, Everclear. The whole formula needs to contain at least 20% pure alcohol to be effective. I don’t recommend this method because alcohol is very drying on the skin, and you can’t consume it.
- Liquid preservative: The fourth option (and my choice) is adding a natural liquid preservative. I used Preservative Eco (Geogard ECT), a natural, paraben-free broad-spectrum preservative. Preservative Eco is liquid and water-soluble, and you’ll need 1% to protect your homemade rose water against bacteria, mold, and yeast.
How to make rose water
The instructions for DIY rose hydrosol are straightforward. And to take any guesswork out, here is exactly how to make rose water:
Step 1: Rinse.
- Rinse fresh rose petals under cold, running water to remove any dirt and insects. Skip this step if using dry rose petals.
Step 2: Simmer
- Place the rose petals and distilled water into a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan.
- Bring the water to a mild simmer and let the petals steep for about 5 minutes. The rose petals will release their color into the water and turn pale.
- Be mindful of hot steam and protect your hands with kitchen gloves when handling the pot.
Step 3: Strain
- Line a fine-mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth or an open nut milk bag. Put the sieve over a large measuring cup or mug to catch the liquid. Pour the rose petal mixture into the strainer.
- Gather the cloth around the petals and twist close. Squeeze and press out the liquid. Discard the rose petals.
Step 4: Preserve
- Let the rose water cool below 104°F / 40°. Then stir the Preservative Eco (Geogard ECT) into the rose water until evenly distributed throughout.
- Preservative Eco is heat-sensitive. If the rose water is too hot, the preservative won’t work properly.
Step 5: Store
- Transfer the rose water into an airtight glass bottle. Amber glass bottles are best, but a clear glass bottle will work as well if kept out of sunlight. Optionally, apply the printable label.
Rose water uses
Rose water is incredibly versatile, and its uses are almost infinite. I’ve grouped the rose water uses into 3 categories: body care, aromatherapy + home scents, and cooking. I’d love to know how you intend to use your homemade rose water, so drop me a comment!
Rosewater is a lovely addition to skin and body care recipes. You can substitute it in any formulation that calls for water. The skin-safe hydrosol will give your products a natural rose fragrance and provide additional skincare benefits.
Another plus is that DIY rose water is much milder than rose essential oil or rose absolute, making it suitable for those who otherwise react sensitively to essential oils.
So far, we’ve used rose water to make:
And here are a few more ideas:
- Face mist: If you need to fresh up your face, spritz a little on your complexion. Store the rosewater spray in the fridge for a cooling effect.
- Cleanser: Apply rose water to a cotton pad and swipe across your face as the last step in your cleansing routine to remove any residue left from other cleansers.
- Mask: Rose water is excellent to constitute dry powder masks like this green tea mask or this brightening pineapple face mask.
- Hair rinse: To give your locks shine and moisture, rinse your hair with rose water after washing. The hair rinse works even better if you add 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
- Natural perfume and body spray: For a light scent, fill the rose water into a fine mister bottle and apply it as a subtle perfume and body spray.
Rose’s calming scent is a great asset for aromatherapy and home fragrance applications. Here are a few fun ideas:
- Room spray: Rose water is an excellent room spray. The elegant and feminine rose fragrance will make any space smell good. I also like to spritz it into the interior of my car.
- Linen refresher: A few spritzes can refresh stale linen and clothes.
- Calming mist: I love to spritz the hydrosol into the air to enhance my prayer and meditation or calm down if I’m feeling stressed.
- Aroma massage: Don’t like oily massages? Spritz rose water on your skin before massaging.
Edible rose water for cooking + drinks
Edible rose water is also a wonderful ingredient for cooking. The floral water lends food and drinks a unique rose flavor that can elevate any dessert and treat. Here are a few ideas for recipes using rose water:
- Drinks: Use rose water for lemonade, cocktails, rose tea, rose milk, or as the water portion in smoothies.
- Preserves: Combine it with strawberries or raspberry to make rose berry jam or on its own for delightful rosewater jelly.
- Desserts: Season creams, puddings, and chocolate truffles with rose water.
- Baking: Cakes, cookies, macarons – the possibilities for rose water in baking are endless. We have these delightful rosewater tea cakes and rose water cookies on the blog.
DIY rose water FAQ
Can I use rose water as a toner?
Yes, many people like to use rose water as a toner. Rose hydrosol has astringent and skin-soothing qualities that are quite useful to tone the face. Be sure to check out my DIY rose water toner recipe, made with rose water and other good-for-you ingredients.
Fresh rose petals vs dried roses – which is better?
The beauty of the infusion method is that you can use both fresh and dried petals. During the summer months and when roses are in season, I cut fresh flowers from my garden. Out of season, I turn to dry rose petals.
Make sure to purchase edible or food-grade dried rose petals or pick fresh rose from the garden (only if free of pesticides, of course). Organic dried roses for tea or from skincare supply shops are best.
I don’t recommend acquiring flowers from the florist to make rose water. Commercially grown roses are heavily treated with pesticides and fungicides. These toxins should not be consumed or applied to your skin.
How many roses do you need to make rose water?
You need 1 cup fresh petals from 3 to 4 rose heads or 1/2 cup dried rose petals.
Why does my rose water have no scent?
It all starts with the petals. If the rose petals have no scent, the resulting rose water will be scentless as well. For aromatic rose water, pick roses that have great scent. Damascene and centifolia roses will imbue the rose water with the very best rose fragrance.
How to get pink rose water?
Bright pink and red rose petals are best to achieve beautifully colored rose water. Pink petals will give you pink rose hydrosol, and red petals lend the water a reddish tone. White and light pink roses will either leave the rose water colorless or give it a subtle green hue.
I performed many tests and found that fresh petals create livelier colors, whereas dried ones always add a brown hint.
Why is my rose water brown?
Brown rose water is usually only an issue with dried rose petals. Dried petals with lots of brown spots will tint the rose water brown, too. The best way to avoid unattractive brown rose water is to use fresh roses or work with dried roses that are still vibrant in color.
How to store DIY rose water
Store your DIY rose water recipe in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. A cupboard or drawer is a good place. Keep the bottle tightly closed.
Amber glass bottles or jars are best for storing rose water. If you’re using a clear glass bottle like me, follow the above advice and keep it in a location protected from sunlight.
How long does homemade rose water last?
With a preservative, homemade rose water will last for 6 months. The shelf life is 7 days for rosewater without a preservative.
Printable Rose Water Label
Tap the button below to download your free printable rose water label!