Rosewater is created when rose petals are distilled to make rose oil. Essentially it is the by-product! It was first mass produced by the Persians and was mentioned in the works of Abū ‘Alī al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sīnā who is known in the West as Avicenna.

The Damask Rose

It was made from the Rosa damascena, or the Damascus or Damask rose. The rose was thought to have been spread to Europe from the Crusaders, and had reached England by Henry VIII’s reign. This website tells you how to make rosewater at home. The rosewater can be used in food (quite extensively in all the cuisines over the Middle East) and as a skin toner, as it is very mild on the skin as well as an astringent.

Fair warning though- a 13th century Al-Andalus cookbook does say that if you use too much rosewater, your hair will go white!

Saudi Aramco-cooking with the Caliphs.
Saudi Aramco-The World’s first soft drink.
Saudi Aramco– the roses of Taif.
Fragrantica– the Taif rose.
Herbalism, Medieval, Magical and Modern by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa/Jenne Heise.
The Toilet and Cosmetic Arts in Ancient and Modern Times by Arnold James Cooley. This is via Google Books, so is only a preview.

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