Written By Jessica Alba.

Posted on September 13th, 2018.

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It’s said that Cleopatra herself incorporated rose water potions into her own beauty routine. Unfortunately, we can’t all afford to live like a queen and regularly buying rose water to use as a facial toner or hair and body mist can get quite pricey. So to save a few bucks, I decided to try making rose water with petals from my garden.

It’s said that Cleopatra herself incorporated rose water potions into her own beauty routine. Unfortunately, we can’t all afford to live like a queen and regularly buying rose water to use as a facial toner or hair and body mist can get quite pricey. So to save a few bucks, I decided to try making rose water with petals from my garden.

There are two main ways to approach this- infusing, which makes a less potent rose water, and distilling flower-infused water to create a stronger floral hydrosol. Infusing is like making tea; rose petals are steeped in boiling water and then removed, while distilling requires boiling infused water and catching and collecting the steam it produces. As you’ll see, both are pretty simple, and by reading through a few techniques (here and here) and with a little bit of trial and error, I managed to land on a method that worked best for me and the supplies I had.

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First, of course, I had to collect my roses. I went to my hanging basket of mini roses and only took flowers that were at or just slightly beyond their peak, snipping off anything that was too dead and leaving behind younger blooms. I placed all the cut flowers into some water to prevent further wilting while I finished gathering the rest of my supplies.

I prepared the roses by rinsing them with cool water to remove any dirt before gently plucking each petal. Then I set up my pot for distillation: I placed a small bowl in the center of the pot for catching my hydrosol and spread the petals evenly around it. Next, I filled the pot with water until it covered the petals but wasn’t high enough to spill into the bowl.

My set-up was a little different than some popular online methods. For one, I didn’t use already distilled water. I figured as the water boils and I catch it, it will become distilled. Besides, my water is supplied from the Catskill Mountains, and I regularly wash, drink, and cook with my tap water with no issues. I also decided not to place my bowl on top of another surface in the pot so it sits above the water line, which is something most sites recommended. I played around with this, trying different perches in the form of containers, other upside down bowls, and even a rock, but nothing fit right or was secure enough for me to trust that my hydrosol wouldn’t spill over once the water around it was boiling. So I experimented and just let my bowl sit in the water, which worked out fine.

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Then I took the lid to the pot and put it on upside down so it would create a funnel shape that would allow steam to collect, run down, and drip into the bowl inside. To exaggerate this condensation process I put ice cubes in the lid of the pot to keep it cool. I removed excess water from the melted ice with a sponge. Once the water started boiling I brought it down to a simmer and left it that way for 30 minutes. This required some babysitting since the ice melts quickly and needs replacing.

After time is up I let everything cool before transferring the hydrosol into a container. Spray bottles are a good choice, because then you can use the water to mist your face, but I went with an old maple syrup bottle with a twist on cap.

Finally, I strained out the petals from my infused rose water and collected the water in a plastic container. Both solutions currently reside in my fridge, so they’re nice and refreshing to use. The infused water will keep for a little more than a week, while the hydrosol will stay good for much longer, around a year or so.

In the end, my DIY version took about an hour from start to finish and cost me nothing that I didn’t already have. It allowed me to put the plants I’ve worked so hard to grow to use and I’m excited to try out my creations as well as head back to my garden for more flowers.

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Even without a garden, odds are your own potted plants or woodlot will have dozens of herbs, flowers, and even trees you can make hydrosol from. Foreign favorites include lavender and basil, but even in winter hydrosol can be extracted from native pine needles and witch hazel bark. Just make sure to confirm you’re not using any toxic plants before harvesting. You can use wildflower identifying websites and apps to be sure you know what’s growing on your property.

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