rose facial mister surrounded by fresh rose petals

The Best Way to Make Rosewater (No Fancy Equipment)

by | Jun 25, 2024

Have you ever smelled a rose that was so absolutely decadent you wished you could capture the smell and wear it on your body all day? The closest I’ve ever come to achieving this is making my own rosewater, and using it as a facial mist on the hottest of Summer days. When you make your own rosewater, you have control over the potency and the quality. If you use the most fragrant roses you’ve ever smelled, you’re going to have the best smelling rosewater you’ve ever experienced! This simple diy is one of my favorite projects for early Summer.

Making Rosewater Without Special Equipment

One of my life goals is to buy a copper still. A shiny, curvy, whimsical, artisan copper still that will allow me to create high-quality distillations from my garden-grown ingredients. Currently though, it’s just not something we foresee buying in the near future because a) a high-quality still is extremely expensive and b) our kitchen and home is so small that storing it would be a hassle. Besides, it’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

So, if you don’t own a still, how do you make your own high-quality rosewater? Let me share this simple kitchen setup that makes pretty darn good rosewater without any fancy/ special equipment. I’ve been making rosewater this way for years, and it’s the reason I try and grow fragrant roses whenever possible

Here’s what you will need to make your own rosewater:

Fragrant fresh rose petals *read my guide to getting started growing roses

A large pot w/lid

A collection bowl for your rosewater (heat safe please)

A second bowl (bottom bowl) to hold the collection bowl off the bottom of the pot (must also be heat-safe)



Ladle or large spoon *to scoop off melted ice

closeup of ispahan damask rose in garden

This is rosa ‘ispahan’ also known as rose d’ispahan and pompon des princes. A truly thorny yet exquisitely fragrant damask rose. I’m very happy to have this one in my collection as the history of damask roses in waters, fragrances, and oils is incredibly valuable.

Choosing Rose Petals for Rosewater

In general, you can use any fragrant rose petals to make rosewater. Just make sure that you are using organic, pesticide free rose petals. Surprisingly, it is extremely difficult to find organic rose petals at any stores, so this is the number one reason I grow my own roses. In my own garden, my favorite roses for making rosewater have been my Red Eden Climber, Desdemona, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Munstead, and Golden Celebration—until now.

Now, I have a really special rose that I’m very much obsessed with. A couple years ago I purchased ‘isaphan’ from David Austin. Ispahan, also known as rose d’ispahan or pompes de prince, is a damask rose named after the city it was found, Isfahan, Iran. For centuries, damask roses have been the main roses used to produce the finest rose oil, rosewater, perfumes and basically anything highly scented with roses. Ispahan is my very first damask rose, and also my very first once-blooming rose. Yep, that’s right. Ispahan does not repeat bloom, making it kind of a riskier choice for small space gardens, where every selection can have a huge impact.  Regardless, it’s such a special rose that I’m willing to try. I’m finally harvesting roses from my ‘ispahan ‘ this year, and am thrilled with the results.

Harvesting Fresh Petals for Rosewater

Whatever roses you choose to use to make your own rosewater, collect them before the heat of the day zaps them of their essential oils. Try and collect your petals in the morning, after the dew has dried, but the roses are open and smelling delightful!

A little rose harvesting tip: you can harvest just the petals of your roses and leave the centers behind for pollinators and rose hips! If you watch my rosewater video, you’ll see how I gently tug the rose petals off the center of rose—leaving the center intact. This method of petal collection can actually allow bees to still access the pollen of the rose and also let your rose form hips (if that’s what you want) for birds in Winter. Besides, we don’t need the centers to make rosewater anyway!

Lastly, place your rose petals in a bowl or colander and gently wash them with some water. You don’t have to worry about drying your rose petals because we will be submersing them in water soon anyway.

pink rose petals being gently washed in bowl

I do gently wash my rose petals before making rosewater, although I don’t treat my roses with pesticides. There’s no need to dry them completely afterwards, as we are about to make rosewater.

The difference between Rosewater and Infused Rose Water

Now, before I explain how to make your own rosewater, I do want to acknowledge the difference between two terms: rosewater and a rose-infused water. In the past, I’ve seen blogs written where the rose petals are simmered in water and then strained out. When you simmer the roses directly in the water and then strain the water, this is an infusion or rose flavored water. Technically, this is not rosewater. Traditional rosewater (like it has been made for centuries) is technically the condensed steam from heated rose petals.

When we heat material, condense the steam, and collect that liquid, that’s called distillation. Furthermore, hydrosols are the water-based product of this distillation process, whereas essential oils are the oil-based products of this process. When a lot of us see rosewater in a recipe or ingredient list, it really is referring to a rose hydrosol. Hydrosols can be made from so many different plants—it’s essentially the product of distilling plant matter—but this is the technical term for the rosewater we are making today.

What I find fascinating is that the term ‘distill’ in the English language means to read or write something, and then only repeat (or keep) the most important part. That’s really what we are doing with the rose petals. In the end, if you follow this process, it will become very obvious that the rosewater you are making is a thousand times different than rose-infused water. Trust me, it’s mind blowing the first time you witness the difference.

Stove Setup for Rosewater at Home

Here’s my first tip: have all of your supplies washed, cleaned, and ready to go. Assemble your pot, lid, two bowls, and do a dry fit test to make sure it all fits properly. Sometimes it can take time to find the right things that fit together in your kitchen. Also, be sure to have your ice ready to go but keep it frozen!

First, take your bottom bowl (aka the bowl you’ll use as a “stand” to raise your collection bowl) and place it in the bottom of your large pot. I’ve seen many people not use this, but I personally like to raise my collection bowl higher for two reasons: First, it assures that my collection bowl stays above the layer of rose petals and water. Essentially, this ensures we don’t get any cross-contamination in our rose water. Second, if you think about it, the water surrounding your rose petals will simmer, so if you place the collection bowl directly on the bottom of your large pot (without a stand) then your precious rosewater will also be heated and simmered. Personally, I don’t find this desirable.

Next, add in your rose petals around the bowl and cover with just enough water to slightly immerse all the petals. At this point, you can add your collection bowl on top of the bottom bowl and check height. Make sure the rose petals or simmering water won’t go over the edge of your collection bowl.

Finally, Take your large pot lid and turn it upside down. You should see that the lid inverts down into your collection bowl—thus directing the condensed steam to the right place. Again, testing out “the fit” is very important when you make your own rosewater this way. Make sure to watch my quick rosewater YouTube tutorial for an example of this setup.

at home stovetop distilling setup using large pot and inverted lid

My at-home diy rosewater distilling setup is simple. I do prefer to raise my collection bowl up from the bottom of the large pot, This is optional, but I personally don’t desire to have my rosewater directly in contact with the heat.

While you make your own rosewater, be sure to have enough ice to replenish the lid for the next 20-30 minutes. The ice keeps the lid cold so, when the steam hits the lid, it condenses into the collection bowl as your rosewater.

Gently Simmer Your Rose Petals

Once you are confident with your setup, you can turn the heat on gently under your pot. The goal is to gently simmer the rose petals (not boil) for about 20-30 minutes.

Additionally, it’s time to add ice to the top of your pot lid. The addition of ice means that any steam that rises from the rose petals will suddenly get cold, condense, and drip down into your collection bowl. Remember, if you want a visual for this whole process, I have a YouTube tutorial for how to make your own rosewater.

As the process continues, you’ll notice the ice on top of the lid starts to melt. At this time, take your large spoon and scoop out the melted ice water. Also, add more ice as needed.

You’ll probably notice that this is not a process that you can setup and then walk away. Always keep a vigilant eye on your rosewater.

Your Rosewater is Finished

Once your rosewater has simmered for about 20-30 minutes, you can turn off the heat. Carefully scoop out as much melted ice water you can so it doesn’t accidentally splash into your rose water upon removal of the lid.

You should be left with clear, fragrant, and intense rosewater in the collection bowl. Word of warning, if you used too much water, your rose water won’t be as strong. Based on experience, you can double distill your rosewater if it is too weak. Simply repeat this process again, but use your rosewater instead of fresh water to simmer with a new set of rose petals—it’s important that it’s new petals, not the same old steamed ones.

To store your rosewater, keep it refrigerated. If you are making a facial mist, decant the your rosewater into a small spray bottle and keep in the fridge. Whenever it’s hot out and you want some refreshment for your skin, close your eyes and mist your face. It’s lovely! Rosewater won’t last long in the fridge, about one month, although always keep an eye out for anything growing in it and throw it out if necessary. If you’d like to extend the life of your rosewater, you can freeze it!

How to Use Homemade Rosewater

There are many ways to use your homemade rosewater, but my two favorites are facial mists/rose toner and culinary desserts. For example, the internet is literally filled with options for rosewater cakes, rose and pistachio loafs, and traditional Middle Eastern rosewater milk puddings (like Mahalabia). In fact, if you also followed my saffron grow guide, maybe try combining the two flavors in a saffron rose pudding or other dessert. Lastly, rosewater can be used as a toner for your skin after cleansing. It’s so refreshing!

Once you make your own rosewater, I have a feeling you’ll be adding all the fragrant roses to your garden! If you found this tutorial helpful, please leave me a comment, share this blogpost with your friends and pin it for later. Go enjoy your roses!


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Meet Randi

Urban gardening is my jam. I’m Randi, California girl who obsessively gardens to grow food and flowers around my urban home. Seasonal, simple living is what inspires me~ I hope it will inspire you too. Join me in crafting a life and home connected to the garden Read More>>>>

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