The county of Kashan in Iran’s Esfahan province, and especially the town of Qamsar draws attention with its rose and rose water.
Although some modern factories produce rosewater, still a large part of the industry is done traditionally.
Rosewater production in Iran dates back to over 2500 years ago. Qamsar and towns of Niasar and Barzook in the Esfahan province, are the main producers of rosewater in the country for over 800 years, according to Tasnim News Agency.
There is a rosewater workshop in almost every street in Qamsar – in central Iran located about 31 kilometers south of Kashan – which is known as the “rose and rose water capital of Iran” among the people.
As the scent of rose spreads over different areas of Kashan, the season for picking rose and preparing rosewater is from early May to mid-June.
Workers start to collect roses from the gardens early in the morning. The roses are transported to the workshops without wasting time and the hard work begins in traditional workshops and it takes 12 hours each time here as well.
During this the delicate process that transforms roses into rosewater harvested petals are poured into copper stills, where they are submerged in water and gently simmered for several hours. The steam is collected and cooled back into liquid—the basis of rosewater. Many distilleries in Qamsar pour it over a second batch of petals for a second round of simmering and distilling. This adds extra potency and scent to their final product.
Rosewater is produced in more than 1500 traditional boilers in Qamsar. Five modern, 208 semi-modern and traditional factories do business in the town. About 10 thousand people work in the rose and rosewater sector.
Due to the air, water and sandy soil structure in the town, located next to the Kavir Desert, the aroma and oil content of the roses grown here differ from other regions.
Qamsar’s rosewater is made from a special rose called “damask rose” wich its scientific name is Rose damascena. It has a very distinctive flavor and is used heavily in Iranian cuisine and sweets. It is also used as a perfume among Muslims.
Every year during the second half of May, many people from different regions and abroad visit Kashan where a festival of rose and rosewater is held.Beside rose water, beverages and essences are produced from nearly 80 plants, such as mint, cinnamon, citrus flower and jasmine flower in the town, using traditional and modern methods.
Rosewater from Qamsar has a special spiritual status too—it is used to wash the Kaaba shrine in Mecca, one of the most sacred sites in Islam.