WitchCRAFT: DIY Rosewater and other steam distillates at home

So last night was the first full moon of this month. I have to admit something here: I’m a bit of a lunatic. Completely lune-y. A full-on moon lover. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I was born on a full moon.

When I got up in the morning yesterday, I could feel the energy almost crackling in the air, and commented on it on my facebook. Well around 3:30 in the afternoon, I was out sitting on the deck with my fella when the ground started  trembling and there was a loud, deep rumbling like a large truck. Earthquake! Only a 3.6, but still enough to feel. There is a fault line that runs up the Bay of Fundy, and the epicenter was just off shore of the island. We’re still under an earthquake watch, as there have been three small quakes in the past few weeks which may be foreshocks leading up to a bigger event. So I’m not sure if I was picking up on the full moon energy or the seismic energy.

As I mentioned, last night was the first full moon in July, and the first full moon since roses have been blooming (we’re in hardiness zone 7a here, but it was an especially long, hard winter and everything seems to be a few weeks behind schedule). The perfect night to make a love and beauty elixir – Full Moon Rosewater.

Old-fashioned floribunda rose from my garden.
Old-fashioned floribunda rose from my garden.

Magickally speaking, rose is a flower sacred to Venus and is the ultimate flower for love and lovers. It is a traditional flower in beauty potions and spells. On a more physical level, rose water has been found to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and toning. Rosewater has been used for millenia as a beauty aid, cleanser, and general refresher.

White wild shore rose.
White wild shore rose.

I gathered three different types of roses. A hike up the Fundy coast yielded a harvest of both white and pink wild roses, which grow in great abundance on the edge of where vegetation grows on the shore. The rose hips they produce in the fall look like apples! Folks here make jellies and wine from them.

I also harvested from the huge old rose hedge that lines one side of our lawn. Old-fashioned deep pink floribunda roses with a very strong scent.

You are not limited to just roses, any plant material can be used to make a distillate. Lavender is especially nice.

It is important that you gather only roses/plants which have not been sprayed or treated with pesticides. The amount you will need for a batch of distillate depends on the size of the pot you will be making it in, as you will see later.

Wild rose on the shore.
Wild rose on the shore.
Here's my still. You can see the homemade copper hooks holding the canning rack about three inches below the rim of the pot. This leaves enough space for a bowl to sit on the rack and still be able to put the cover on the pot.
Here’s my still. You can see the homemade copper hooks holding the canning rack about three inches below the rim of the pot. This leaves enough space for a bowl to sit on the rack and still be able to put the cover on the pot.

To make a homemade still, you will need a large canning pot and a way to suspend a bowl above the boiling mixture in the pot. I use a round canning rack that fits the diameter of the pot, hung from the rim of the pot by four hooks I made from thick copper wire. This leaves a gap when the lid is on the pot through which steam can escape, rendering your still not as efficient as it could be. An alternative which I have used before, is to stack a few clean bricks or flat stones in the pot, setting the bowl on top of the bricks. This method reduces the amount of space in the pot for plant material, however. Your call. 🙂

Fill the pot with your plant material up to the bottom of where your bowl will sit. Add water, again to a level just below the bottom of the bowl.

I was able to fill my pot nearly 3/4 full with rose petals.
I was able to fill my pot nearly 3/4 full with rose petals.

Place your pot on the burner, with the bowl in place, then place the lid of the pot on the pot upside down, so the handle of the lid is facing downward into the pot.

Steam collecting on the lid, with ice to help aid the condensation process.
Steam collecting on the lid, with ice to help aid the condensation process.

Bring the mixture to a boil. When steam begins to collect on the underside of the lid (if your lid is metal then wait until the mixture comes to a boil), dump ice onto the inverted lid of the closed pot. The cold ice will cause the condensation gathering on the lid to happen faster.

As the ice melts, discard the resulting water in the inverted lid and add more ice. The condensation will drip down into the waiting bowl… and voila! Rosewater… or distillate of your chosen plant. Boil for about thirty minutes, or until the steam no longer smells as good as it did at first. You will be able to tell. It just starts to smell… a bit used up, for lack of a better description.

A distillate is a mixture of distilled water and essential oil of the plant. If you made a really huge batch of rosewater, theoretically you could put the batch in a freezer and the water would freeze, leaving a layer of rose essential oil on top. Distillates are gentle, and the rosewater you make can be used to flavour food or drinks, or on even the most sensitive skin. I especially like to keep a spritzer bottle of it in the fridge to spray on my face on really hot, summer days. I work during the summer as a waitress in a busy little restaurant, and it gets hot (as only someone who has worked in a restaurant in the summer can understand). A few spritzes of this elixir always refreshes me.

I choose not to use preservatives in my distillates, and if that’s the way you decide to roll as well then I recommend refrigerating your distillates to keep them fresher longer.

To further imbue this batch of rosewater with magick, I poured it from the bowl into a clear jar with a rose quartz (the stone of love, gentleness, and beauty). I stretched clear plastic wrap over the lid of the jar and left the jar overnight on my garden altar under the full moon. It was a very foggy night and the moon was not visible, but the same energy was still available.

All ready to go outside for the night to soak up some moon magick.
All ready to go outside for the night to soak up some moon magick.

And there you have it: Full Moon Love & Beauty elixir. Let me know if you have made your own distillates and how you did it. Or if you try, let me know how it goes! 🙂

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