This is a very simple recipe for making your own rose scented oil. It is quite different from an essential oil which is made by steam distillation or solvent extraction (which requires about 1200 rose flowers to make just 20 drops of oil!), so much more practical as you don’t require vast fields of roses, nor specialised equipment.
This process is called maceration and involves leaving rose petals in a carrier oil for a period of time until the oil takes on the scent of the roses.
- Roses (strongly scented and chemical free)
- Oil ( almond or jojoba oil- something that has little or no scent to avoid over powering the delicate smell of the roses, and that already feels lovely on the skin, my favourite is apricot oil). Click here to see more carrier oils.
- Container (or Glass Jar with air tight lid).
- Muslin Cloth
Make sure the rose flowers you collect have a strong scent and have not been sprayed with chemicals, as these will taint the final product – growing your own is best*. I have several potted roses on my balcony and for my test run I only used two flowers in a tiny jam jar, after 2 weeks of using a little on my finger tips as a face oil, I still have half a pot left.
Take the flowers when they are dry and have opened to their fullest, so you and the bees can enjoy them for as long as possible, then just nip them off before they start to wither. It’s best to do so when it hasn’t rained recently to avoid moisture.
Once you’ve harvested your rose flowers you need to remove the petals and lay them out to dry a little as any moisture could result in the oil becoming rancid. Avoid putting them in the light or sun, you can purchase an ‘air dryer’ or lay them on a tray and keep in an airing cupboard, this should be enough to lose the water in the petals but not the essential oil.
Collect the petals carefully and put them in the jar, you will naturally leave behind little bits of dust or grit as you pick them up, and there might be some you want to discard, any creepy crawlies should crawl away, I actually found a few petals with creatures wrapped inside so they didn’t make it into a jar.
Fill the jar to the top with the dry rose petals, and the pour in the carrier oil. If you don’t have enough petals to fill the jar, use a smaller one, you want to just cover them with oil, and not leave any space for air. Check after a few hours to see if the jar needs topping up with oil, as the petals will start absorbing oil and may sink down into the jar.
Seal the lid tightly and leave for 3 -6 weeks in a warm cupboard, away from light or sunshine (airing cupboard is perfect), shake the jar every day or when you remember incase any air bubbles form.
After at least 2 weeks, strain the spent rose petals through some muslin cloth, or a fine sieve, into a container (bowl, jug etc).
Squeeze as much oil as you can from the petal pulp and you are left with a beautiful, delicately scented rose oil.
Pure gold oil! You can repeat this whole process and add more petals to this oil for a more intense rose scent.
This oil feels so precious to use on my face and body. You only need a tiny amount so it’s been well worth it -this last batch was made with a litre of oil so I have plenty to see me through until the next rose flowering season. It has been delightful having petals drying throughout my home as the smell is heaven.
Tip: You can use your rose oil as an ingredient in making your own natural face cream, see here for recipe and instructions: Natural Face and Body Cream Making Workshop.
Feel free to ask any questions and to share your experiences.
*Growing your own roses – if you want to grow your own roses the David Austin website lets you know if the rose you are buying has a strong scent, Autumn is a good time to order bare root roses, they deliver at end of the year as literally bare roots with a little bit of twig but will still give you a harvest next Summer.
Remember you need to avoid spraying chemicals or fungicides to use them for making skin care products – there are various natural remedies for the inevitable bugs that invade roses, I am currently experimenting with a lavender essential oil and water spray – I will let you know how well this works… Edit – lavender water works well, but must be applied consistently especially when the buds are forming.
I have tried this process a few times now, and have also used flowers from two of my favourite roses that I have on my balcony, Gentle Hermione and The Alnwick Rose, they have a fairly strong scent but I chose them just because they happened to be in bloom when I decided to make it, you can try using any rose that is scented and not sprayed. I am planning on making one with a few different types of rose flowers, so as to create a combination of their scents. One of the most popular scented roses is Gertrude Jekyll.