Not all rose waters are the same
Traditional rose water
There was a time when rose water was just rose water, the product of heating roses with water and condensing and capturing the steam. Then through the use of more sophisticated stills, with temperature controls, the rose essential oil began being extracted from the rose water for perfume, a very lucrative business. The leftover liquid still being called rose water, but clearly not the same as the traditional rose water. Whether original or spent of its rose oil, rose water was used for many purposes: skincare, flavouring, medicine, spiritual connection.
Rose water for skincare
Now legislation is in place for skincare products that dictates that any product containing water must contain a preservative. Very sensible – I think we are all guilty of leaving occasional bottles of skincare product around for years and still expecting it to be usable. Consequently, rose water sold under a skincare brand will either be mixed with other ingredients to comply with legislation, or it will contain a preservative, whether labelled as such or not. The rules for skincare labelling are not as strict as food. Though this does mean that it is meant to last two years in the bottle.
Rose water for food
Rose water sold as a food flavouring has its own problems. Not all rose water sold for this purpose is actually rose water, not the least its origin is likely the spent rose water from industry mentioned above, possibly with rose essential oil added back in!
What is rose flavouring
Rose flavouring which often claims to be natural contains a rose flavour composition including around 99% Propolene Glycol and triacetin dependent on the brand. Variations on this include Rose Flavour Concentrate and Rose Essence. Then there are also products labelled as rose water, sold in the baking aisle, which contain alcohol and natural flavours. Always best to read the label.
Rose water made in the UK
You may be interested to know that the UK has some of the strictest controls for food production in the world, only rose water grown and made in the UK falls under this legislation. Compliance with Food Standards is obligatory. With regular visits, reams of paperwork and many checks and balances needing to be in place. Also watch out for rose waters that say they are British but are actually imported rose water, packed in the UK.
Natural rose water
So not all rose waters can be used for all purposes unless they are 100% rose water and then they may be a derivative, lesser product. Not to blow our own trumpet, well too loudly, but Petals of the Valley Welsh Rosewater (link) is a traditionally made rose water with 100% of its rose essential oil intact. I would call that natural, unlike so many pretenders. Though interestingly we are not allowed to call our rose water natural because the ingredients have to go through distillation to turn to rose water. We also have a 5* food hygiene rating. Our spring water is tested every year and we don’t spray our roses with anything nasty.
How long does rose water last
Rose water is naturally anti-bacterial, and we have found it can last for years if kept in a cool dark environment, especially when it contains natural amounts of rose essential oil. Our rose water has a best before end 2 years from making and a use by once opened of 3 months, which is really to encourage you to use it. In fact, our rosewaters have been tested and are actually fine for 6 months once opened. For every other type of “rose water” please do read the label.
Desdemona and Denise