Queen of Hungary’s Water

There is something so intriguing about recipes that have been used for centuries and passed down by oral tradition and folktales.  Below is one of my favorite herbal recipes with legend deeply rooted in folklore.  Not only does it have an interesting history, but the medicinal and cosmetic properties of this formula make it useful in our modern world.

There is much debate over the history of this ancient recipe.  Some say that it was created for the aging Queen of Hungary by an alchemist in the 1300’s to restore her youthfulness. According to the legend, it reversed her appearance so much that the 25 year old grand-duke of Lithuania asked for her hand in marriage when she was 70! Others believe that the recipe was formulated and marketed by early Gypsies as a cure-all for a myriad of cosmetic and medical uses.

Although the true origin of this recipe is a mystery, there is no doubt that Queen of Hungary’s Water is a wonderful astringent for all skin types and is especially beneficial for oily or acne prone skin. It gently tones, tightens pores, soothes itchy skin, normalizes the skin’s pH, and is a superb hair rinse. There are numerous variations of the recipe. I based my version on Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe, but please feel free to adjust it as you like to create your own.

• 5 parts fresh or dried organic Lemon Balm
• 5 parts fresh or dried organic Lavender
• 4 parts fresh or dried organic Chamomile
• 4 parts fresh or dried organic Roses
• 4 parts fresh or dried organic Calendula
• 3 parts fresh or dried organic Comfrey leaf
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Lemon Peel
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Rosemary
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Sage
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Peppermint
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Elder flowers
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Helichrysum flowers
• Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Combine all herbs in a glass mason jar and add vinegar until the liquid rises above the herbs by at least 1 or 2 inches. As the herbs swell, add additional vinegar if needed.  Cap the jar tightly and shake once or more per day. After 2-6 weeks, strain out the herbs and reserve the liquid.

The infused vinegar can either be used alone or combined with Rose hydrosol and a few drops of Lavender essential oil for an especially lovely facial toner.

If desired, use vodka instead of Apple Cider Vinegar to create a body splash or perfume rather than a facial toner.  Or, you can use Witch Hazel extract in place of the vinegar if you prefer a facial toner without the vinegary scent.

13 Responses to “Queen of Hungary’s Water”

  1. avatar yellowhorsespin says:

    Does Mountain Rose offer a pre-mixed package of these ingredients? I would love to try this but would hate to spend a lot for a huge quantity of herbs just to try it and not like it. Thanks!

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi Yellowhorsespin,

      Thank you for reading our blog and for your great question! Unfortunately, we do not offer a pre-mixed package of these ingredients, but the recipe is very versatile and you are welcome to utilize just a few of the herbs to make the infused vinegar. For example, you could infuse the vinegar with a simple blend of dried Lemon Balm, Rose petals, Lavender flowers, Chamomile, Rosemary, or any other herbs that you wish.

      Thank you again, I hope that you enjoy your Queen of Hungary’s Water!

      ~ irene

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  3. avatar aergil says:

    Hi, thanks for the recipe. I’ve infused the vinegar with all the herbs and I’m about to bottle it. What is the vinegar to rose water ratio I should be using?
    Thank you

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi aergil,

      Thank you so much for the wonderful question! A classic combination is 1:1, but you can adjust this amount as needed for your skin type. I have dry, sensitive skin and usually use 1/2 cup of the vinegar infusion to each cup of Rose flower water. Sometimes, if my skin feels especially dry, I’ll even add a small amount of organic Vegetable Glycerin to the mixture.

      Thanks again, and I hope that you enjoy your Queen of Hungary’s Water!

      ~ Irene

  4. avatar aergil says:

    Thank you Irene, I’m looking forward to it. I also have some Helichrysum Floral Water and Green Myrtle Floral Water. Do you suggest using a combination of those with Rose Water? Thank you!

    • avatar Irene says:

      Hi aergil,

      Ooooh, all of these sound like wonderful additions! I think that a combination of any or all of these sounds lovely.

      Since you have so many fun ingredients on hand, I would recommend playing around with the recipe until you find a combination that you like best. You can create very small test batches using teaspoons or tablespoons as measurements, and then make a big batch when you’ve created the perfect formula.

      Thanks again, and have fun experimenting!

      ~ Irene

  5. avatar Lindsey says:

    Hi!! Question regarding infusions- I am confused about using fresh herbs in infusions as I have read different opinions on the matter. If I am making this toner with witch hazel, is it ok to still use fresh herbs like lemon balm and lavender from my garden?

    Also, what about infusing fresh flowers and herbs in oil? Is that ok as long as none of it is peeking out over the top? Does it make a difference in terms of scent (using dried vs. fresh plants.) I am very curious but can’t seem to find a definitive answer on it.

    Also, is there any reading material you could recommend to me on infusions and natural perfumery infusions?

    Hah! Sorry for all the questions! Thank you so much! :)

    -Lindsey

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hi Lindsay~Thank you for reading the blog and for sharing all your questions. Let’s see if we can answer them. Whether to use fresh or dried herbs depends on a few things: what you are infusing them in, the herb, and what you will be using them for. If you are making a tincture and will be infusing the herbs in grain alcohol, you can use both fresh and dried and they should work just fine. The herbs with high moisture content (like lemon balm) can be problematic in infusions since the moisture will compromise the quality of the infusion. You can read more about making Witch Hazel infusions here: http://mountainroseblog.com/herb-infused-witch-hazel/ Lavender from your garden would probably work fine, however.

      As for fresh herbs and flowers in oils, the moisture content can make the oils spoil faster, so, again, it depends on the herbs you are using. It also depends on the oils you choose. Some oils, like Olive Oil, have a relatively long shelf life, if it is a high quality oil. You can read more about infusing oils using a solar infusion model here: http://mountainroseblog.com/making-herbal-infused-oils/. You will want to make sure there is no air exposure and all the plant material is covered with oil. It is very difficult to get a strong scent from infusions, while you will be able to extract the herbal properties, scent often comes from essential oils or strongly-scented herbs like lavender.

      You may find our many books helpful as you research how to make your projects. Books such as “The Fragrant Mind” may be especially useful. Thank you, again, for checking in with us and good luck! ~Kori

  6. avatar Joy says:

    Quick question: how many time should we dilute the water before you use it?

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hi Joy~Thank you for reading the blog. While we don’t really suggest diluting this with water, you can add hydrosols or essential oils to this to make a toner. Feel free to experiment, however, and use this as it works best for you. Wishing you the best! ~Kori

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    Erin is the Marketing Director at Mountain Rose and studied herbalism, botany, and ethical wildcrafting at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days making botanical illustrations, playing in the garden, creating culinary gems, and formulating medicine in the magnificent Oregon Cascades.
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