The Queen of Hungary's water

I found a lot of recipes for the Queen of Hungary's water.  The recipes are all pretty different and after reading about it trying to find the correct recipe I discovered that originally it was probably a distillation of Rosemary in Brandy and that it dates from the late 14th century.  It has since been added to and modified to include various herbs such as sage, mint, rose, chamomile, lemon balm, calendula and lemon peel.  The Hungary water is both a cosmetic and a herbal remedy, reputedly curing all sorts of ailments.  My interest is to use it as a toner.  I love to use toner on my skin, even if I read somewhere that they are useless.  I don't care.  So I thought I'd make my own Hungary water.

One common recipe for Hungary water is widely attributed to Rosemary Gladstar on the internet.  She has been called the godmother of American Herbalism and she has written many books.  This is her recipe for the Queen of Hungary's water and I used that as a base for mine.  She uses vinegar instead of alcohol and I think that suits me well.  I've been interested in using vinegar based toner for a while, but haven't done anything about it.  Although, of course, it is the easiest thing to do.

6 parts lemon balm
4 parts chamomile
4 parts roses
3 parts calendula
3 parts comfrey leaf
1 part lemon peel
1 part rosemary
1 part sage
Vinegar to cover (apple cider or wine vinegar)
Rose water or witch hazel extract
Essential oil of lavender or rose (optional)

Place the herbs in a widemouthed jar. Fill the jar with enough vinegar so that it rises an inch or two above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and let it sit in a warm spot for 2 to 3 weeks. Strain out the herbs. To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of essential oil, if desired. Rebottle. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely.

My own version of this depended on my ability to find the ingredients fresh and free.  I wanted to use only plants that I either grew myself or picked from nature myself.

So my version is here:  I put in the fresh herbs in this order.  I did cheat a bit and used dried lavender from the store since I had just killed my plant (with kindness, you understand).  I didn't measure the amounts, but I guess there was more roses and calendula than the others.

May Seaweed (our local Chamomile)

These were stuffed into a large jar (it looked really pretty) and I poured 300 ml. of white vine vinegar and 300 ml. apple vinegars.  This sat in a jar for quite a few weeks until I strained it.  I then diluted it, like instructed, with Witch hazel and Rosewater.

The resulting toner smells of vinegar and herbs.  I don't mind the smell at all.  I've gotten very used to the smell of vinegar, since I use it a lot in cleaning.  The toner really works well for me.  I use it to wipe away my makeup and it does a great job of it.  I then use some infused oil, I love the green Achillea millefolium oil and also the Rose oil that I infused this summer.  It makes for a rather shiny face at night, but also very soft skin.  I also use the oils under my makeup in the mornings.

I had planned elaborate Christmas presents for the women of the family with this toner and face oil (in a serum type bottle), some face cream maybe and a lovely soap, sugar scrub, bath bomb and body bar - all in delicious scent blends, but you know how it is.  Maybe next year I'll start early enough.


  1. I really want to try this, I've been using a apple cider vinegar based toner (with rose, aloe and a touch of honey) ....this Queen of Hungary water sounds awesome. Really enjoying your posts....Merry Christmas!!

  2. Wow, this looks like such a neat recipe. I am saving this in my 'Things to Try Soon' file. My only question is this; just HOW strong is that vinegar smell? Although I love the smell and taste of vinegar when cooking, I just don't know that I'd find it appealing when applied to my face. So that's why I am wondering how strong the vinegal smell is.


  3. Well, there is some, but if you add some Essential oils to it (which I didn't), I'm sure you would be able to mask it. But note that the vinegar smell evaporates quite quickly. I'd give it a go if I were you. If you don't like it on your face you can always use it as a tonic and drink it :)

  4. This looks like a fantastic recipe! I'm going to link to it in a post I've written on rosemary essential oil. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
    life sciences


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