How To Recognize Quality Rose Water – And How To Make Your Own

One of the ingredients that should be in every DIY beauty crafters cupboards is rose water, or another herbal water. Rose water is exactly what it sounds like – roses steeped in water, where the good components of the rose has soaked into the water. The great thing about these herbal waters, or herbal hydrosols, is that they are very versatile. They can be used as such as a face toner, or in a hair rinse. They can also be used in any recipe instead of water, and in that way you will get a lot of benefits from the hydrosol, instead just a filling agent (which water is). According to Livestrong, rose water is a mild antiseptic and is good for all skin types, especially sensitive skin, red and irritated skin as well as acne skin. In this post, I will discuss how you can find quality rose water in the shops, and how to make your own herbal hydrosols.

Homemade floral waters: rose water, orange blossom water, lavender water

You might have seen rose water and orange blossom water in shops that specialize in oriental food. Rose water is used in many dishes and desserts in among Middle Eastern food, and if you’re lucky, you can find good quality rose water very cheaply in these shops. The proper commercial rose water is a biproduct of making rose oil, and is produced through steam destillation. However, very many of the rose waters on the market are not actual rose waters, they’re just water with rose aroma added. These waters are basically okay to use in you homemade skin and hair care products, but you won’t get the positive effects of rose mentioned above. The advantage of using “fake” rose water as compared to tap water is that the rose water is distilled and therefore your concoction will last longer, and if you like the smell of rose aroma you will also get that benefit. But if you want to find good quality rose water in the oriental shops, you will have to look a little bit closer. Here’s a few tips on how to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to rose water:

  • You want to find a rose water that is transparent in color. Especially if it’s very bright pink, you’re likely to get a product that has additives.
  • Look for an ingredient declaration on the bottle. It shouldn’t say anything else than rose water, or water.
  • Look for the word distilled on the bottle, that’s another sign that it’s naturally produced and free from synthetic ingredients.

Homemade rose water, orange blossom water and lavender waterBut even though the product you find meets all these requirements, you can still never be 100% sure that it’s pure. If you order rose water online from a shop that specializes in raw material for cosmetics, you can get organic rose water that is free from additives (to five times the price …). It’s also very easy to make your own rose water and other hydrosols. Here’s what you need for the simple method (if you want to make proper distilled water, see this recipe on Mountain Rose Herbs)

  • A handfuls of fresh (prefferably) or dried herbs or flowers
  • Distilled water
  • A glass jar with a lid
  • Vodka (optional)

You can use regular tap water to make herbal waters, but then you have to keep it in the fridge and use it within a few days, or freeze it (I like freezing them into ice cube trays, that way you can just take one out each time you need it). For longer lasting rose water, use distilled water. You can find distilled water in the pharmacy, but a much cheaper way is to go to your nearest gas station and buy some car battery water – which in essence is pure distilled water as well! You can add a tablespoon of vodka to the mix to prolong the shelf life, if you like.

DIY floral hydrosols from rose, orange blossom and lavender

If you use fresh flowers, rinse them well before using. Don’t use any roses that have been sprayed with pesticide (this includes roses from the florist’s!).

Take a glass jar and fill add a couple of handfuls of dried or fresh herbs or flowers of your own choice. I chose to use rose petals, lavender bud and orange blossom. You could also try thyme, jasmin, chamomile, peppermint, yarrow or a mixture of several different herbs.

Bring water to a boil and fill the jar up to three quaters. Put a lid on the jar and let stand for a couple of hours up to overnight. Strain and add a tablespoon of vodka if you like. And you’re done! Now all you need to do is go find some recipes that you can use them in.

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  1. Melissa O'brien

    I have a question. I bought red roses from my local grocery store, brought them home, made rose water using 6 of the roses. I used about 2 cups of water. The end result is a very pink, bright pink rose water. I used no additives besides the distilled water. Help.

    1. hilda

      Hi Melissa, sorry, I might have been unclear about that in the post. When you make rose water yourself, it will have a color – like you see in my pictures as well. The homemade rose water has a much shorter shelf life than storebought and the process is different. When you buy it from the shop, they’re using a distillation process, which means that the water will be clear. Only if they have added colour agents will the rose water be pink. So pink should be completely fine. But in homemade, pink or red color is normal and good!

    2. Steph


      If you are buying roses that are for gifting purposes from a store, chances are, they are loaded with chemicals, pesticides and dyes. You’d be better off using dried rose petals if you don’t have access to a rose bush. You don’t want to put that nonsense on your skin. 🙂

  2. Melly

    Hilda, u are giving advise dear but not reminding that the roses might have been sprayed with pesticides! And most of them are. When u give advise pls consider also informing about the possible harms, even if that was not the question. That would be the genuine thing to do. I bought roses from a whole food store, roses are imported from South America. One of these rose plantation owner and importer is a patient of ours and she reassured that all roses are strongly pesticide sprayed. So thank God I remembered that. Washing and rinsing will not get rid of it. FYI. Let us know if you find a store chain or distributer who sells untreated and organic roses. Thank you

    1. hilda

      Hi Melly, you’re right that roses are most often sprayed with pesticides, and I also mentioned this in my post. I could have been clearer on that. The alternatives are: buy dried roses that are meant for cooking (i.e. you should be able to find them in the spices section), or buy from a herbalist. Certified organic is always best since they don’t use as harsh pesticides. The best option of course is to have your own rose bush in the garden and pick from them. I tend to sneak a few buds from big bushes that aren’t right by a trafficked street if I happen to pass one in the city 😉

  3. abi

    Hi Hilda I made rose water I was very excited about it bout when I rinsed out the stainless pot I was making my roe water in the water cam out blue. I did still apply it on my hair that night I showered and I noticed there was blue coming off my hair is it dye? What do you think?

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  7. Ashlynn Chatwell

    I have a question, I made diy rose water with roses from my rose bush, and the roses I used I had stored in a plastic bowl with a lid, and I don’t know how long it has been stored but not very long, and the rose water I made turned out brown, what should I do?

    1. hilda

      I wouldn’t worry about it, if the roses you had weren’t moldy or so when you made the water it should be fine. It can depend on a lot of things, such as what type of rose you use. If your rose water starts smelling differently or changing color from after you make it I might throw it out.

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