By Beth Trissel

I like to feel connected to those who have gone before me. Herbs have changed very little, if at all, over the centuries. When I hold an aromatic sprig of rosemary in my hand, I am touching the same plant beloved by the ancients. Some heirloom roses go back to the glory days of Rome.

To further that sense of oneness, and for their many uses, I grow a variety of herbs. Thyme, basil, sage, and chives are a few in my kitchen garden. Lavender and scented geraniums are wonderful for their scent alone. Ladies used to waft the delicate perfume of toilet water. Below, I have given some recipes that were once popular. These come from a little book entitled Potpourri, by Ann Tucker Fettner.

Basic Toilet Water: To three pints of pure alcohol add one and one-quarter ounces of lavender oil, three-quarters ounce of oil of bergamont, three-quarters ounce of tincture of ambergris. Mix together and bottle.
Rose Water: Boil two quarts of distilled water and remove from the stove. Add one-eighth ounce of rose oil, four drops of clove oil, and one pint of alcohol. Let this stand for several days before bottling.
Geranium Water: To two pints of pure alcohol add four ounces of rose water, five drops tincture of musk, one ounce tincture of orris root and one ounce of geranium oil. Allow to age.

©2007 Beth Trissel


  1. Cinthia Hamer // September 2, 2007 at 7:40 PM  

    These are very interesting recipes, Beth. I've been "into" herbs for years. I grow rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley--anything that can stand the heat and humidity here in the South.

    If you have a very fragrant rosebush (or bushes) in your garden, you can make some very lovely rose-scented toilet water by putting a pound of rose petals (make sure they're free of pesticides) into a quart of pure grain alcohol such as Everclear. Or you can use vodka. Let it sit in a dark place for at least 3 months, then strain the spent petals out and bottle.

    One of those huge glass jars that pickles come in or are used for sun tea work really well for this.

  2. Beth Trissel // December 30, 2007 at 10:39 PM  

    Yes, sounds great. There are so many wonderful recipes for toilet water.