Making Rose Hydrosols (Flower Waters)

August 15, 2013

Rose Water

This is how I make the rose hydrosols……

Making Rose Hydrosols

My first job is always my favourite when making Rose flower water – picking and packing the rose petals into the pierced flower basket in the copper Alembic still as soon as the dew has evaporated from the rose petals.The basket is handmade in pure copper and flash plated so the copper does not taint the subtle scent of the flower water.

My roses look sensational in their large Whichford pots around my garden and the standard Ausglobe Brother Cadfael flowers at head height, allowing me to become completely surrounded in its sublime rich Old Rose scent.

I grow the Gallica Rosa Mundi, that was bred prior to the 16th century (Unknown before 1581) with its dramatic striped red and white colouring as well as the Damask Kazanlik (Discovered in 1689) which is the rose used to make attar of rose for parfum.

I love to imagine that the young William Shakespeare courted his future bride Anne Hathaway, with a posy of rosa mundi roses gathered from her family home. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is a thatched farmhouse with large grounds, and both a floral and productive vegetable gardens, overflowing with beautiful blooms, traditional shrubs and fruit. The cottage is in Shottery, a hamlet within the parish of Stratford-upon-Avon and within walking distance of my home.

Were not summer’s distillations left

A liquid prisoner, pent in walls of glass,

Beauty’s effect of beauty was bereft,

Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was;

But flowers distilled, though they with winter meet,

Leese but their show, their substance still lives sweet.’

William Shakespeare

But back to my hydrosol….. I pack as many petals as I can into the basket to the maximise the scent production and hopefully to produce a small amount of rose essential oil.

The belly of the Alembic still is filled with Malvern spring water, then the onion is fitted onto the top of the still.

I carry the still, onion and petal filled basket into my kitchen where I seal the still joints with a traditional collar made with wholemeal flour.

I put the flour paste roll around the head of the bulb and also around the seal between the onion arm and distill pot. It is vitally important that  each seal is secure, as any steam lost can make a difference to the quantity of hydrosol produced.

Then I put the Alembic still on the gas ring to heat up and wait…….

Once the water boils, steam distillation takes place – the steam is forced through the petals held in the basket scenting the steam, that is then condensed back into a hydrosol (flower water) as the steam cools in the distill pot.

The distill pot has three fluid pipes – one on the left hand of the photo to collect the hydrosol, one on the right hand side to allow the hot water to drain and the second on the righthand side to refill the distill pot to cool the coiled pipe from the onion.

The hydrosol pipe feeds into a green glass bottle where I store the rose hydrosol until I use it in my rose soaps.

I produce enough hydrosol for me to make my rose and rose and lavender soaps, and if there is any  spare  I make rose-water floral spray – there is nothing like it to cool me down on a hot day and to enjoy the scent that always makes me smile……..

Once the hydrosol has been produced I very carefully take the Alembic to pieces to cool and to drain off the water left in the Still. This water is often brown and slightly scented, in a green sort of way – not like the clear scent of the hydrosol.

The wonderful rose petals turn to a pink mush that is put straight into my green compost bin, after a quiet thank you to them for giving up their sublime scent.

 We have had a larger Alembic made for us and here she is…..

We are so pleased with her and cannot wait to start using it – but we must wait for the first crop of flowers and herbs to emerge from their winter slumbers before we can start making the hydrosols and oils which are the basis of all of our soaps, liquid soaps, creams, body butters and lip balms.

We plan to sell any excess essentail oils, so if you are interested, please contact me.

I used the healing body butter with the healing soap when I was going through treatment for breast cancer; it kept my skin soft and stopped any infection. I would recommend for other women who are going through this medical procedure. Thank you. M.S Stratford

Healing body butter