Rose water is a popular ingredient used in many beauty, culinary and medicinal applications. While pure rose water is clear in color, many commercially available rose waters contain additional ingredients that can alter the final color. Let’s take a closer look at what gives rose water its signature scent and nutritional properties, and whether pure rose water is actually white.
What is Rose Water?
Rose water is a fragrant liquid made by steeping rose petals in water. It is an essential ingredient in many Middle Eastern, South Asian and European recipes and cosmetic products. True rose water contains no other ingredients besides water and rose petals.
To make rose water, fresh rose petals are picked and then distilled or hydrodistilled. This involves simmering the petals in water and then condensing and collecting the fragrant steam. The condensate is the rose water that is then used for cooking, as a toner and more.
The Fragrance and Nutrition of Rose Water
Rose petals contain aromatic oils that give flowers their signature scent. Through the distillation process, these oils are concentrated in the resulting rose water. The main essential oils present in rose petals include:
- Phenethyl alcohol
These oils not only provide fragrance but also nutritional and medicinal benefits. For example, citronellol and geraniol have been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition to essential oils, rose petals contain various other plant chemicals like anthocyanins, flavonoids, tannins and vitamins. Many of these compounds are concentrated in rose water through the distillation process.
Does Rose Water Contain Color?
Since true rose water contains only water and rose petals, it does not contain any additional color. The petals themselves impart little to no visible color when distilled into water.
Here is a look at what gives rose petals their pigment and why it does not affect the color of distilled rose water:
|Rose Petal Pigments||Color Impact on Rose Water|
|Anthocyanins||Water-soluble, do not carry over into rose water|
|Carotenoids||Non-water soluble, remain in petal residue|
The anthocyanin pigments that give rose petals their vivid colors are water-soluble. During distillation, these compounds dissolve into the water and get left behind after steam distillation. Carotenoid pigments are non-water soluble and remain trapped in the rose petal residue.
As a result, the fragrant steam and condensate collected to produce rose water takes on none of the colorful pigments from the rose petals.
Does Commercial Rose Water Contain Color?
While pure, distilled rose water does not contain color, many commercially produced rose waters use additional ingredients that can add color.
Some rose waters may contain extracts in addition to distillate to enhance the flavor and fragrance. If alcohol is used as the extraction solvent, it may pick up more anthocyanin pigments from the petals and create a slightly colored product.
Rose water is also often combined with other flower waters to create unique products. For example, mixing rose water with darker-hued flower waters like lavender can result in an off-white or lightly colored liquid.
Here are some other common additions that may add color to bottled rose waters:
- Essential oils
- Food coloring
- Herbal extracts
- Fruit juices
If a rose water contains any ingredients besides pure distillate, its final color can range from clear to light pink, lavender, peach or even deeper hues depending on what has been added.
What is the Color of Rose Water?
- True rose water made only from distilled rose petals contains no visible color and appears clear white.
- Commercially made rose waters may have additional ingredients added that give the final product a light pink, lavender, peach or other hue.
- Look for labels indicating “100% pure rose water” or “single distillate” to find brands without added colors.
- If color is present, it comes from oils, extracts, flower waters or other ingredients mixed into the final product.
So in its purest form, rose water derived only from distilled rose petals is a clear, white liquid. Colors you may see in bottled rose waters come from additions that enhance fragrance, nutrition or preservation.
Uses for Colored and Colorless Rose Waters
Both clear and colored rose waters have many uses:
|Pure White Rose Water||
|Colored Rose Water||
The purity and intensity of rose scent is higher in colorless distillates. However colored rose waters offer visual appeal and additional benefits from supplementary ingredients.
Pure rose water made only from distilled rose petals contains no inherent color and appears clear and white in the bottle. Many commercial rose waters include supplemental oils, extracts, juices or flower waters that introduce light colors ranging from pink to peach to lavender.
Both the colorless and lightly colored versions have a range of uses including cooking, skin care, hair care, perfumes and more. So while pure rose water is technically white, don’t be put off by colored versions found in stores – the rose scent and benefits still shine through!