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Floral waters are waters that have been infused with the essences of various flowers. Some common varieties are made with flowers like lavender, rose, orange blossom, chamomile, and rosemary. They have a variety of uses, ranging from body care to cooking, and there are a number of styles that people can choose from. These products are often available at large markets and health food stores, and they can also be ordered directly from the companies that produce them.
Many companies distinguish between a hydrosol, which is water made with the water used during steam distillation of essential oils, and a floral water, made with essential oil added to water. Some people believe that hydrosols are superior, because they often integrate a wider range of scents, and they can be quite strong. Floral waters made with essential oil are also of varying quality, because the strength depends on how much essential oil is used, what kind of water it is suspended in, and how well distilled the essential oil was to begin with.
In cooking, floral waters have famously been used in the Middle East for centuries. Many Middle Eastern pastries and desserts include orange blossom water and rose water, for example, and they can be added to savory dishes, as well. Typically, they are used in moderate amounts so that the strong scent and flavor do not become overwhelming. Floral waters can also become cloying if they are applied to food in excess.
In beauty care, there are all sorts of ways to use floral waters. Some people apply them directly to their skin after bathing, using them as a mild natural perfume and taking advantage of the substances in the water that can be beneficial to the skin. Others apply them to change their mood, using things like lavender to calm down during a stressful day. They can also be added to bodycare products like moisturizers and scrubs.
People who want to use floral waters in cooking should only use food-grade products. While many cosmetic waters are perfectly safe to consume, this is not always the case, and it is better to be safe than sorry. Some cosmetic products are treated with additives to prolong their shelf life or enhance their scent, and these additives are not safe for consumption. Cooks should look for those that are clearly marked for cooking when they will be used in recipes; food grade floral waters can also be used cosmetically.