What is Orange Flower Water?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

When distilled, fresh orange blossoms yield a sweet smelling elixir known as orange flower water, or orange blossom water. The perfumed distillation, though clear, features the same aroma as the bitter orange plant it is extracted from, resulting in a popular scent used in many different cosmetics. The essential water also has many culinary uses.

When used as a facial toner, orange flower water can be blotted on the face with gauze.
When used as a facial toner, orange flower water can be blotted on the face with gauze.

In beauty care, orange flower water is sometimes used as a facial toner. Daily use of the water may help shrink skin pores as well as cleanse the area. It can be spritzed on the face, applied directly with a cotton ball, or blotted on the face with gauze. With its light scent, typically more delicate than the actual orange blossom itself, this water is also a popular aromatherapy agent for easing stress and uplifting the mood.

Orange flower water is made with extracts from the bitter orange plant.
Orange flower water is made with extracts from the bitter orange plant.

Like rose water, orange water is said to be invigorating for the skin. Its application provides a sweet scent that is lighter than most perfumes. Also known as neroli water, orange water can be used as an astringent for oily skin. Used as a shower gel, it can help keep skin clean and refined, preventing blemishes and breakouts from occurring.

Neroli oil may be used in chemical-free moisturizers for breakout-prone skin.
Neroli oil may be used in chemical-free moisturizers for breakout-prone skin.

Neroli oil is soothing for sensitive skin. It can help restore the vitality and suppleness of aging skin as well. Orange water may also help increase the blood flow to the skin.

Orange water may be used in perfumes.
Orange water may be used in perfumes.

Substitutions for orange flower water can be made from other items in the kitchen. For every teaspoon (five milliliters) of substitute required, one to two drops of orange oil may be used. Orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec, can be used as well. If so, two to three teaspoons (10 to 15 milliliters) should be sufficient.

Orange water is a common ingredient in bubble baths and shower gels.
Orange water is a common ingredient in bubble baths and shower gels.

Orange flower, or blossom, water is also called zahr, or el ma' el zahr. When used in Greece and Cypres, the flavored water is known as anthonero. A favorite food flavoring, orange blossom water is used in Mexico, Morocco, the Mediterranean, France, the United States, and many other areas.

In traditional Middle Eastern cooking, the water is used to flavor sweet and savory dishes as well as otherwise unpleasant drinks. Wedding cakes, Madeleines, marshmallows, scones, and the popular drink Ramos Gin Fizz all make use of orange flower water. The water is used in many other desserts, as well as the Victorian martini, which is composed of orange flower water, vermouth, and gin. Orange blossom water can be used to flavor ice cream, baklava, custards, soft drinks, pastries, and any other dishes desired.

Cotton balls may be used to apply orange flower water to the face.
Cotton balls may be used to apply orange flower water to the face.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

anon305551

If you'd like, check out Woodland Fairy Acres. They have a line of Orange Blossom floral scone mixes and a French Orange Blossom marshmallow mix, too! They are to die for!

liz1103

I love to cook. I am always trying new recipes. I have found a few orange flower water recipes that I have really enjoyed. My favorites are almond cake with orange flower water syrup and creamy rice pudding infused with orange flower water and cardamom. I found both of these recipes with a quick online search.

Another recipe I have really enjoyed is for a California orange blossom martini. For each martini, you need orange juice, 2 ounces of vodka, a splash of orange flower water, and ice. I prefer fresh squeezed orange juice and good vodka. Pour all the ingredients in to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and pour in to a martini glass. What a great way to enjoy orange flower water!

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