Updated: Jan 20, 2022
Rose water is a flavored water made by steeping rose petals in water. Additionally, it is the hydrosol portion of the distillate of rose petals, a by-product of the production of rose oil for use in perfume. It is used to flavor food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia.
Rose syrup (not to be confused with rose hip syrup) is a syrup made from rose water, with sugar added, and is an Ark of Taste endangered food. Gulkand in Indian subcontinent, is a syrupy meshed rose mixture.
Since ancient times, roses have been used medicinally, nutritionally, and as a source of perfume. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians considered large public rose gardens to be as important as croplands such as orchards and wheat fields.
Rose perfumes are made from rose oil, also called attar of roses, which is a mixture of volatile essential oils obtained by steam-distilling the crushed petals of roses. Rose water is a by-product of this process. The cultivation of various fragrant flowers for obtaining perfumes, including rose water, may date back to Sassanid Persia, where it was known as golāb, from gul (rose) and ab (water). The term was adopted into Byzantine Greek as zoulápin. The process of creating rose water through steam distillation was refined by Persian and Arab chemists in the medieval Islamic world which led to more efficient and economic uses for perfumery industries.
It is sometimes added to lemonade, and often added to water to mask unpleasant odors and flavors found in tap water.
In the Indian subcontinent, especially in Indian sweets such as laddu, gulab jamun, peda; as well as other Indian food preparations such as to flavor milk, yogurt based lassi drink, rice pudding and other dairy-based dishes the rose water is used.
In Malaysia and Singapore, sweet red-tinted rose water is mixed with milk, which then turns pink to make a sweet drink called Bandung.
American and European bakers enjoyed the floral flavoring of rose water in their baking until the 19th century when vanilla flavoring became popular. It is used in Waverly Jumbles. In the historic English county of Yorkshire rose water has long been used as a flavoring for one of that region’s best-loved dishes; Yorkshire curd tart. In Iran, it is also added to tea, ice cream, cookies, and other sweets in small quantities.
In Middle Eastern cuisines, the rosewater is used heavily in many dishes, especially in sweets such as nougat, gumdrops, baklava, and Turkish delight (Rahat lokum). Marzipan has long been flavored with rose water. In Cyprus, Mahaleb’s Cypriot version known as μαχαλεπί, uses rose water (ροδόσταγμα). Rose water is frequently used as a halal substitute for red wine and other alcohols in cooking. The Premier League offer a rose water-based beverage as an alternative for champagne when awarding Muslim players. In accordance with the ban on alcohol consumption in Islamic countries, rose water is used instead of champagne on the podium of the Bahrain Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Cosmetic and medicinal use
In medieval Europe, rose water was used to wash hands at a meal table during feasts. Rose water is a usual component of perfume. A rose water ointment is occasionally used as an emollient, and rose water is sometimes used in cosmetics such as cold creams, toners and face wash. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a good tool against skin disorders such as Rosacea and eczema.
In Indian subcontinent, the Gulkand is supposed to have cooling effect on human body. Some people in India also use rose water as spray applied directly to the face for natural fragrance and moisturizer, especially during winters; it is also used in Indian sweets and other food preparations such as gulab jamun, and the Rose water is often sprinkled in Indian weddings to welcome guests.
Rose water is used in the religious ceremonies of Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity – particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Zoroastrianism, and Baha’i Faith (in Kitab-i-Aqdas 1:76).
Depending on the origin and type of manufacturing method of rose water obtained from the sepals and petals of Rosa × damascena from Central Iran through steam distillation, the following monoterpenoid and alkane components could be identified with GC-MS: mostly citronellol, nonadecane, geraniol and phenyl ethyl alcohol, and also henicosane, 9-nonadecen, eicosane, linalool, citronellyl acetate, methyleugenol, heptadecane, pentadecane, docosane, nerol, disiloxane, octadecane, and pentacosane. Usually, phenylethyl alcohol is responsible for the typical odor of rose water but not always present in rose water products.
What you should know about rose water
Rose water is a liquid made from water and rose petals. It is used as a perfume due to its sweet scent, but it has medicinal and culinary values, as well.
There is a long tradition of rose water being used in medicine, including in Iran and other parts of the Middle East, as far back as the 7th century.
There is also evidence of North American Indian tribes using it to treat ailments.
Fast facts on rose water:
Rose water can usually be used without any side effects.
Rose water contains numerous, powerful antioxidants.
Recent research has found that it can help relax the central nervous system.
What are the benefits?
Below, we look at some of the benefits of rose water and their uses in medicine.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and acts as a barrier against UV radiation, chemicals, and other physical pollutants.
The antioxidants in rose water protect the cells in the skin against damage.
Rose water also has anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can be put on the skin to soothe the irritation caused by conditions, such as eczema and rosacea.
Rose water acts as an inhibitor against elastase and collagenase, which are both harmful to the skin.
This, in turn, can help soothe the skin and reduce redness, as well as act as an anti-aging product by reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Due to its soothing and anti-inflammatory effect, rose water can be taken to treat a sore throat. Furthermore, a study has shown that it can act as a relaxant on the muscles in the throat.
In its liquid form rose water can be used as part of an eye drop and has been shown to have excellent benefits for people with eye problems.
Conditions it can help treat include:
Conjunctival xerosis or dry eye
Degenerative conditions, such as pterygium or pinguecula
Rose water has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which mean it can help wounds heal faster, by keeping them clean and fighting injections.
The types of wounds rose water can be used on include:
Due to its antiseptic properties and the fact rose water can prompt the creation of histamines by the immune system, it has been shown to be useful for preventing and treating infections.
The inhalation of rose water vapors has been traditionally used as a way to improve a person’s mood. The liquid can also be taken orally.
Research has shown that rose water has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. It is believed to induce sleep and to have a hypnotic effect similar to that of the pharmaceutical drug diazepam.
It has been used to treat a number of mental health conditions, including:
In other medical cases, rose water is known to be beneficial in the treatment of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A specific protein fragment called an amyloid, which is created by the body, has been shown to be present in these conditions and to affect the brain function, kill cells, and hinder memory. Encouragingly, properties found in rose water are an inhibitor of this amyloid.
Just as the fumes of rose water are inhaled to help improve mood, it is believed that the de-stressing effects can also help treat headaches and migraines.
Rose water has been used in aromatherapy for some time and can also be applied to a cloth and laid on the forehead for similar effects.
The ingestion of rose water has also been shown to have beneficial effects on the digestive system. It works by increasing bile flow, which helps symptoms of common complaints, including bloating and upset stomach.
The consumption of rose water can also work as a laxative. It can increase both the amount of water in the feces and the frequency of going to the toilet, making it a good treatment for constipation.
What forms and types are there?
Rose water contains between 10 and 50 percent rose oil. It is often used in religious ceremonies, as well as in the food industry. However, the same product can come in different forms.
This is created by distilling the rose flower. The oil can be mass-produced in factories and is a pale, yellow color and semisolid.
Due to its high concentration, rose oil is known to be a fairly expensive product.
Both the buds and the petals of the rose can be dried and are used for different reasons.
Often the petals are eaten, with yogurt, for example, and are used for the previously mentioned digestive benefits.
Other forms that rose products may come in can include:
Rose hips: The seedpods of the roses, which are used either fresh or dried, and as they are or processed in factories.
Hydrosol and absolute extract: This can be taken from the flower, petals, or hips and can be a cheaper alternative to rose oil.
Ethanolic, aqueous, and chloroform extracts: These can be taken from the flower, petals, or hips and are used for research purposes.
A person can apply rose products topically by putting a small amount — about the size of a dime — on their arm as an initial test. If there is no adverse or allergic reaction within 24 hours it can be safely applied elsewhere.
In some cases, a person can have a reaction to rose water due to a particular and often unknown sensitivity to the product.
This can include:
If someone experiences any of these effects after the use of rose water, they should tell a doctor immediately, as it may be a sign of an infection or allergic reaction.
How to Use Rosewater
Now for some of the ways I like to use this rosewater in my skincare routine:
1. Skin Toner– By and far this is the #1 way I like to use it. Apple cider vinegar can also be a great skin toner, but let’s be real rosewater smells so much better and is just as effective.
2. In the bath – I will add about a cup to my bath water for extra hydration and relaxation from the scent.
3. Natural Perfume– We will get into the discussion of conventional perfume another day, but let’s just say you are far better off sticking to this natural version.
4. Face refresher/Make-up setter – Spray this on your face when you’re at your 3:00 PM slump…it works.
For the Homemade Rosewater:
Organic Roses (as many as you like)
Distilled water (enough to cover the rose petals)
For the Homemade Rosewater:
Remove petals from stems and run them under luke-warm water to remove any leftover residue.
Add petals to a large pot and top with enough distilled water to just cover (no more or you will dilute your rosewater).
Over medium-low heat bring the water to a simmer and cover.
Let simmer for 20-30 minutes or until petals have lost their color and are a pale pink.
Strain the mixture to separate the petals from the water.
Discard petals and place water in a glass jar to store.