Chicken Coop Chatter©
Fragrant water is as ancient as the rose, dating back at least to 800 BC. Rose water is familiar, but you can use any fragrant flower, herb or vegetation that is safe for human consumption.Roses, Lavender, Rosemary, Pineapple sage, Lemon Balm and Mint are just a few options to try.
Though true rose water is made by distillation, I am sure early pioneers would have tried other options and sun being the most abundant option, I've chosen to make the fragrant water via solar method. Though pioneer life was difficult at best, those ladies would have welcomed the lovely sent of fragrant waters if nothing else to remind them of their femininity and to remind them of the more comfortable life they may have left for the new frontier.
We know through research and experience, that roses were brought over the prairie, along with other plants and seeds. There is a little yellow rose bush on our Sis' homestead property that was brought over by wagon train and still blooms faithfully each year. Since we do not know the name of the rose bush, we simply call it *Pioneer Rose*. Our best guess is that the rose bush is well over 125 years old; testament to the hardiness and longevity of roses.
Whatever plant/flower you choose, make sure to cut them early in the morning while the dew is still on them. This is when the fragrant oils are at their optimum. Once the sun has kissed the flowers, the oils are evaporated. A rainy day is even a better option, when it's cool and the oils have peaked. You may have noticed that flowers are more fragrant when weather is cool and now you know why.
For Solar fragrant water you need few supplies and those are available right in your own yard and homestead. These would have been the same supplies available to the pioneers of yesteryear.
A glass jar (mason jar is ideal)
Fresh flower petals or fragrant leaves
A secure place in the sun (at least 8 hours of sun is preferred)
Water (allow tap water to sit overnight) or Distilled Water
Cut the flowers early in the morning while dew is still on them. Usually before 8 in the morning. Wash the flowers gently in cool water. Fill the jar with the petals, pour water in the jar to cover the petals. Cover the jar with cheese cloth or muslin. Allow to sit in the sun to steep for 8 hours. Bring indoors at night and place in a warm kitchen. When the sun is warm the next day, place the jar outdoors once again for at least 8 hours of sun. Repeat day 3. With the cheese cloth, strain the water into a glass bowl. Discard the petals. Pour the fragrant water into a clean mason jar, cap and refrigerate. This will keep at least a week if kept refrigerated.
USES: A teaspoon of fragrant water (from culinary plants) can be added as part of the liquid for baked goods. If using mint or roses, you can use the fragrant water as a mild facial astringent. You can place fragrant water in a decorative bowl with some petals and a floating candle to place in the bathroom or bedroom for a soothing fragrance through the room. Pour the fragrant water into a spray bottle or atomizer and use as a room freshener or light body fragrance. Add water to a humidifier for an entire house freshener. The fragrant water can be added to the bath. If making soap, you can add a few drops of rose oil while processing the soap. Glycerin soap works best. A drop or two of the fragrant water onto a cotton ball will aid in freshening closets, drawers and linens. When entertaining, drop fragrant petals into the water and set in a diffuser, or on top of the stove on low heat to emit the fragrance.
As always make sure any plant material you use, that you have no allergic reaction. Test a small spritz on a wrist to make certain there is no redness or skin outbreak. It is advised that you only use culinary plant material that is edible and has no toxic residue and no pesticide or commercial fertilizers used. If you do not grow your own herbs or flowers, you can purchase at farmer's markets, but make sure they have been grown naturally without the use of herbicides or pesticides.
Roses have a long history and believed to originally come from the Middle East, in Persia. Rose oil was actually used as payment to the rulers of Persia. It was the attempt to create the finest oils and waters that distillation of the rose petals was discovered. Rosa damascena the Damask rose is the most fragrant of all roses, followed by Rosa rugosa. It takes no less than 60,000 roses and somewhere I read, over 600,000 rose petals to produce one ounce of rose oil, making it a very expensive fragrance.
Lore has it that the Queen of Persia, had canals constructed around the palace. It was discovered that the canals would capture the volatile oils from the rose garden and literally run with rose oil. At the time, the highest reward was that of the finest rose oil, thus, she and her husband while rowing a small boat, were surrounded by the fragrance of the roses. Her special gift to honor her husband. The use of rose oil and rose water is still primarily used in the middle East for culinary and fragrant usage. Today, 70% of all rose old is made and comes from Bulgaria and the damask rose is the most used of all roses.
Most rose oil purchased today has additives, mainly to preserve the fragrance, or is a synthetic fragrance. The cost to purchase a small vial of organic rose oil would be prohibitive.
Three methods for extracting oils is used. Distillation, Solvent extraction (such as alcohol), and a Carbon dioxide extraction, which combines the two other methods. Most rose oil today is only a small percentage of rose, the major component is geranium. Both flowers contain a concentration of Geraniol, which is higher in Geranium than in the rose.
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CREDENTIALS: Certified Oregon State Master Gardener since 1999. Horticulture degree 2001. Study of Herbs and Horticulture Therapy, heavy research and study of all plants and herbs. Gardening a lifetime.