How to Make Rose Oil and Rose Water

Everything is coming up roses when you know how to capture this intoxicating aroma.
New Dawn Rose Considered Best Repeating Climber

New Dawn Rose Considered Best Repeating Climber

Photo by: DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

If your rose bushes are in bloom, you may be wishing you could bottle their intoxicating scent for longer than the flowers blossom. Well, you can! Extracting the therapeutic and lovely aroma of roses into a pure, natural oil or water solution is an easy project anyone can do at home. Here's how:

First steps

Choose roses that are free of chemicals or pesticides, especially if you'll be using the oil or water in a food product. Pick the roses in the morning, after the morning dew has evaporated, and gently wash to remove any bugs or dirt.

To make rose oil:

  1. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan, then remove from heat.
  2. Pour a cup or so of oil in a glass jar. Look for an oil that doesn't have much natural odor to avoid competing with the roses. Jojoba and grapeseed oil are good choices, but olive oil (opt for the lighter kind) will work in a pinch.
  3. Crush, shred or "bruise" a cup of rose petals and place in the oil. Swirl the jar around to coat the petals, but don't shake.
  4. Cover the jar and place into the hot water. Warming the oil will help release the scent from the rose petals. When the water cools, you can move the jar to a warm area like a sunny windowsill.
  5. Leave the jar alone in the warm area for at least 24 hours.
  6. Strain the oil through a cheesecloth, pressing the petals to extract as much oil as you can.
  7. If you want a stronger-smelling oil, you can repeat steps 1-6 with fresh petals. You may need to repeat the process 5 or 6 times to get the desired level of scent.
  8. Pour clear oil into a dark bottle with a lid (dark glass will help block out sunlight and keep the oil more stable).

To make rose water:

Making rose water is a simpler process, but will yield less potent results. To make rose water the easy way, simply pour boiling water over rose petals (about one part rose petals to two parts water) and strain when cool. 

Store in a sterilized jar in the refrigerator, where it can stay good for as long as a month.

Uses for rose water and rose oil:

  • Scent homemade or home-poured glycerine soap
  • Add to a sachet or potpourri
  • Make your own perfume 
  • Scent homemade beauty products or massage oil
  • Add rosewater to tea, homemade baked goods and other foods. Here's a list of recipes that include rose water.
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