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Rose water

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Rose water
Rose water bottles and rose petals
TypeFlavoured water
Place of originIran (Ancient Persia)
Region or stateAsia and Europe
Main ingredientsRose petals
Ingredients generally usedWater

Rose water is a flavoured water made by steeping rose petals in water.[1] It is the hydrosol portion of the distillate of rose petals, a by-product of the production of rose oil for use in perfume. Rose water is also used to flavour food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Eurasia.

Rose syrup (not to be confused with rose hip syrup) is a syrup made from rose water, with sugar added. Gulkand in South Asia is a syrupy mashed rose mixture.

Central Iran is home to the annual Golabgiri festival each spring. Thousands of tourists visit the area to celebrate the rose harvest for the production of rosewater.[2][3] Iran accounts for 90% of world production of rose water.[4]


12th century rosewater bottle from Iran (silver with gold and niello, Freer Art Gallery)

Since ancient times, roses have been used medicinally, nutritionally, and as a source of perfume.[2]

Rose perfumes are made from rose oil, also called attar of roses, which is a mixture of volatile essential oils obtained by steam-distilling the crushed petals of roses. Rose water is a by-product of this process.[5] Before the development of the technique of distilling rose water, rose petals were already used in Persian cuisine to perfume and flavor dishes.[6] Rose water likely originated in Persia,[7][8][9] where it was known as gulāb (گلاب), from gul (گل rose) and ab (آب water). The term was adopted into Medieval Greek as zoulápin.[10] The process of creating rose water through steam distillation was refined by Persian chemists in the medieval Islamic world which led to more efficient and economic uses for perfumery industries.[11]


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A decorative display in a small manufactory of rose water in Kashan, Iran


Rose water is sometimes added to lemonade. It is often added to water to mask unpleasant odours and flavours.[12]

In South Asian cuisine, rose water is a common ingredient in sweets such as laddu, gulab jamun, and peda.[13] It is also used to flavour milk, lassi, rice pudding, and other dairy dishes.[citation needed]

In Malaysia and Singapore, sweet red-tinted rose water is mixed with milk, making a sweet pink drink called bandung.[citation needed]

American and European bakers often used rose water until the 19th century, when vanilla became popular. In Yorkshire, rose water has long been used as a flavouring for the regional specialty, Yorkshire curd tart.[citation needed]

In Iran, it is added to tea, ice cream, cookies, and other sweets. Rosewater is also used in some savoury dishes, such as Khoresh Gheymé, Shirin Polow (cherry rice), Tahchin or during steaming of Persian rice.[citation needed]

In Middle Eastern cuisines, rosewater is used in various dishes, especially in sweets such as Turkish delight,[1] nougat, and baklava. Marzipan has long been flavoured with rose water.[14] In Cyprus, rose water is used to flavor a number of different desserts, including the Cypriot version of muhallebi.[15]

Rose water is frequently used as a halal substitute for red wine and other alcohols in cooking.[citation needed] The Premier League offer a rose water-based beverage as an alternative for champagne when awarding Muslim players.[16] In accordance with the ban on alcohol consumption in Islamic countries, rose water is used instead of champagne on the podium of the Bahrain Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.[17]


In medieval Europe, rose water was used to wash hands at a meal table during feasts.[18] Rose water is a usual component of perfume.[19] Rose water ointment is occasionally used as an emollient, and rose water is sometimes used in cosmetics such as cold creams, toners and face wash.[19]

Some people use rose water as a spray applied directly to the face as a perfume and moisturiser, especially during the winter. It is also often sprinkled in Indian weddings to welcome guests.[citation needed]


Rose water is used in the religious ceremonies of Christianity (in the Byzantine Rite of the Catholic Church and in Eastern Orthodox Church),[20] Zoroastrianism, and Baháʼí Faith (in Kitab-i-Aqdas 1:76).[21]


Depending on the origin and manufacturing method, rose water is obtained from the sepals and petals of Rosa × damascena through steam distillation. The following monoterpenoid and alkane components can be identified with gas chromatography: mostly citronellol, nonadecane, geraniol and phenyl ethyl alcohol, and also henicosane, 9-nonadecen, eicosane, linalool, citronellyl acetate, methyleugenol, heptadecane, pentadecane, docosane, nerol, disiloxane, octadecane, and pentacosane. Usually, phenylethyl alcohol is responsible for the typical odour of rose water but is not always present in rose water products.[22]


See also


  1. ^ a b "Rosewater recipes". BBC Food.
  2. ^ a b "GOLĀB". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. XI (online ed.). Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation. 2012. pp. 58–59. ISSN 2330-4804. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  3. ^ "Rosewater festivals draw visitors to central Iran". Tehran Times. 3 May 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  4. ^ "Iran Meets 90% of Global Rosewater Demand". Financial Tribune. 15 June 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  5. ^ Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004-01-01). Food in Medieval Times. Greenwood Publishing. p. 29. ISBN 9780313321474.
  6. ^ Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004). Food in Medieval Times. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-313-32147-4. Rose petals were already used in Persian cookery to perfume and flavor dishes long before the technique of distilling rose water was developed. The person commonly credited with the discovery of rose water was the tenth-century Persian physician Avicenna.
  7. ^ Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004). Food in Medieval Times. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-313-32147-4. Rose petals were already used in Persian cookery to perfume and flavor dishes long before the technique of distilling rose water was developed. The person commonly credited with the discovery of rose water was the tenth-century Persian physician Avicenna.
  8. ^ Marks, Gil (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. HMH. p. 791. ISBN 978-0-544-18631-6. In 800 CE, the Arab scholar Jabir ibn Hayyan in-vented an improved still. About two centuries later, the Bukharan-born physician ibn Sina (980-1037), whose name was latinized as Avicenna, discovered how to use the still to extract the essential oil from flower petals. This allowed for the steam distillation of floral waters, particularly rose water
  9. ^ Boskabady, Mohammad Hossein; Shafei, Mohammad Naser; Saberi, Zahra; Amini, Somayeh (2011). "Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena". Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences. 14 (4): 295–307. ISSN 2008-3866. PMC 3586833. PMID 23493250. The origin of Damask rose is the Middle East and some evidences indicate that the origin of rose water is Iran
  10. ^ Rose water at Encyclopædia Iranica
  11. ^ Ahmad Y. al-Hassan, Transfer Of Islamic Technology To The West, Part III: Technology Transfer in the Chemical Industries Archived 2015-12-29 at the Wayback Machine, History of Science and Technology in Islam.
  12. ^ "All About Rose And Rose Water | how to use | health benefits". iran dried fruit. 2019-12-19. Retrieved 2023-12-30.
  13. ^ Krishna Gopal Dubey (27 September 2010). The Indian Cuisine. PHI Learning Pvt. p. 11. ISBN 9788120341708.
  14. ^ Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004). Food in Medieval Times. Greenwood Publishing. p. 89. ISBN 9780313321474.
  15. ^ "Rodostagma - Rosewater". Heartland of Legends. 17 February 2023. Archived from the original on 23 April 2023.
  16. ^ "PL offers 'rosewater and pomegranate' drink instead of champagne to avoid offending Muslim players". Yahoo! News. 26 August 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  17. ^ "Champagne to be sprayed on the F1 podium again after two years of sparkling wine". The Telegraph. 2017-07-30. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  18. ^ Adamson, Melitta Weiss (2004). Food in Medieval Times By Melitta Weiss Adamson. Greenwood Publishing. ISBN 9780313321474. Archived from the original on 2022-10-31. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  19. ^ a b "Rose water: Benefits, uses, and side effects". Medical News Today. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  20. ^ "Journey through Holy Week & Pascha". Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  21. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (2005). Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Project Gutenburg. p. 23 of PDF (1:76).
  22. ^ Loghmani-Khouzani, H; Fini Sabzi, O; Safari, J H (2007). "Essential Oil Composition of Rosa damascena Mill Cultivated in Central Iran" (PDF). Scientia Iranica. 14 (4): 316–319. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2012.
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Rose water
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