Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Name of the Rose

"And I will make thee beds of roses And a thousand fragrant posies."
~ Christopher Marlowe

One of the quintessential symbols of Valentine's Day is the rose. A perennial within the Rosaceae family, this flower has been here on planet earth for 35 million years. That number is based on fossil records, thus, more than likely the rose has been here much longer. Prized and revered in Islam, the rose has been used by many civilizations from fragrant pomades, edible delicacies and elaborate gardens.

The natural botanical perfumer has quite a array of rose essences available to us, from many different parts of the globe, including Bulgaria, Turkey, China and India. We obtain the essential oil of Rose by distilling rose petals. It takes over 60,000 petals of roses to obtain 1 ounce of the essence, this is why the cost of this gem is so steep. There are also specific essential oils that can add a rosey quality without necessitating the real deal. These include: Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), HoWood or an ethically sourced Rosewood, and dilutions of Palmarosa (cymbopogon martini), Lemongrass and or Citonella.

"It is at the edge of the petal that love waits."
~ William Carlos Williams

Here are a few recipes that utilize Rose Petals:

Rose Petals
Egg white
Extra fine granulated sugar

Gather fresh rose petals, preferably on a sunny, dry day.
Gently wash them with spring water and allow to air dry.
In a small ceramic bowl beat an egg white until it foams and add a tiny amount of water, 1/2 tbspn at most.
Gently place the rose petals into the egg mix so that they are well coated. Remove one at a time, allowing excess egg to drip off.
Dust the petal on each side with extra fine granulated sugar.
Place each rose petal on a piece of wax or parchment paper and allow to dry.

Use these to decorate a cake. This recipe can be used with any edible petal of leaf.

2 cups freshly picked petals of dark red roses, washed
1 liter water
Place the flower petals in a teapot. Pour in the boiling water, cover and leave the tea to brew for 10 minutes. Serve this tea hot or iced, with honey to enhance the delicate taste.

1/2 cup dried red rose petals
2 tablespoons dried lemon balm
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Mix well. Use 1 teaspoon for each cup.

Place clean, dry rose petals into honey, this is technically called a maceration. This will produce a heavenly treat that can be used on toast or to sweeten tea.


Herbal vinegars are used in skin tonics, added to the bath, dabbed on sunburned face or pressed on to a throbbing headache.

1 cup of fresh petals or herbs of your choice
2 cups cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Put flower petals or herbs into a large glass jar and pour in the warmed vinegar. Place on a windowsill in the sun or in some other warm place and leave there for 2 weeks, shaking the bottle well every day. Strain off the vinegar and store the sealed bottles. You can then increase the strength of the perfume by increasing the amount of herbs or flower petals used.

Dried rose petals
Lavender buds
Orris Root
and a small piece of Copal, ideally one that is heart shaped.
Put the following into some rose colored, breathable fabric and stitch together holding while holding your beloved and or thoughts of love in your minds eye.


1 cup vodka
1 cup of dried mint
2 cups distilled water
2 cups of Rose petals

Combine mixture and leave covered for several days, gently shaking daily. Strain off liquid. If the fragrance is not as strong as you would like it to be, take the infused liquid and repeat the process until the fragrance is to you liking. Substitute lavender in place of rose petals for a nice variety.

Read about our Rosa Botanical Perfume dedicated to the California Native rose at this link here at the Journal.

Image at top is a detail of Greg Spalenka's painting Art Heart, the image is ©Greg Spalenka, to see more of his work go to or his shops on etsy.


AromaX said...

Thanks for such an inspiring entry. Although I am not the fan of the rose taste in the food I become curious to the rose tea...

Well I was making a rose too (a synthetic one combining chemicals and naturals) - well - I think it started pretty much like a rose cologne from your receipt. But on a dry down - its spicy dry herbal note... recalls something from a dirty underpants (not unpleasant although). Well, I end up with something very different than a rose delight. Well, may be the nexto one will be the sweet honey rose :o)

Illuminated Perfume said...

Hi Aromax,
Thank you fro sharing your process on the rose perfume you are working on.
What are the main synthetic chemicals that you are using to impart a rose note in the perfume?
Dry, herbal rose sounds interesting to me. My Rosa perfume is a warm, earthy rose. Sweet, honey rose sounds good to. I look forward to hearing more about your rosey potions.
I'm making Valentines today.

AromaX said...

Well, Roxana, the main synthetic constituents of the "perfumery rose" are very similar to those of the rose oil or absolute - phenyl ethyl alcohol, citronellol, geraniol, rose oxide etc. I think that the next three entries on my blog I shall tell about making the rose and the chemicals.

Making Valentines... sounds great. I hope you put some images here. What are they this year?

We don't really have this tradition here. But I always try to make it a bit special. This time it would be probably a foamed bath (for the bath potion I prefer to work with botanicals) with champagne and strawberry and kiwi salad (nice color combination).

Illuminated Perfume said...

Thank you for the list of synthetic constituents Aromax. I will check on your blog for more info.

I completed the Valentines yesterday and sent most out. A few more will be posted in todays mail. More on that soon...with pictures.

A foamed bath with champagne and strawberry and kiwi salad! Sounds lovely.