My Florida Water ingredients for this year
A refreshing scent, a stirring room, linen, or body splash or spray, or a spiritual tool? Florida Water is all these things and more. Debuting in the early 1800's as a his-or-hers cologne, the stimulating liquid created by Robert I. Murray gained popularity and was eventually re-created by other enterprising companies, though the Murray & Lanman brand is still one of the most recognized. The name is said to be a nod to the old tales that the Fountain of Youth might be hidden somewhere in Florida. The base word of Florida, flor, the Spanish word for flower, also alludes to the floral qualities of the liquid.
Florida Water has a varied history of uses. It was proposed to be not only a perfume, a tonic and something that might restore youth, but medicinal and curative. I can't speak to some of those applications here (and I'd never recommend ingesting anyone's version of the water) but Florida Water has become a popular ingredient in many people's spiritual and folk practices. There is a great deal of debt owed to the southern African American spiritual communities (from practitioners of Hoodoo, Voodoo, and Lucumi, to Catholics) for bringing the devotional and magical use of the liquid to the forefront.
As a spiritual tool, Florida Water is said to be pleasing to the spirits. Its traditional floral and citrusy scent is attractive and it is often employed as a holy or blessing water. There isn’t one specific recipe for Florida Water. I've come across blends that can include any number of ingredients, including the following:
The process of making your own splash or spray can range from simple to complex, depending on your ability to do the work and source the ingredients. For an easy blend, combine purified or distilled water and add the essential oils of your choice from the above list until you find you have a pleasing scent. Bottle, and bless your creation according to your spiritual tradition.
One of the selling points of some personal Florida Water blends is that they have included several different waters collected from locations considered sacred, such as holy wells or specific natural or man-made fonts or streams. You may include these waters in your blend, but you will need to add a high-proof alcohol to the mixture in order to keep the blend from turning rancid.
You can also make Florida Water with plant material, which is more labour intensive but really gives you a connection to the end result. This is the way I like to make my blend. I wild-harvest local flowers, roots, and other herbal material from a well-known area (and I often add some plants that I've grown). Employing flora from areas that I have a relationship with feels good to me, and I will usually ask to be led to the plants that want to be involved the creation of my water.
When I'm ready to decant the water, I strain off the solid material and save the liquid in a labeled bottle. This tincture is potent, so it is diluted by at least half with purified water when added to smaller bottles. I like the convenience of having a spray, so I use mister-caps on my bottles (pictured below). Depending on the year, I might add sacred waters that I have collected and preserved. My last act is to add to the bottle a blend of essential oils that I created, to make this spray my own. This blend ensures that, despite the differing ingredients in the mother tincture each year, the spray has the spicy, citrusy scent I desire.
Whether you make Florida Water simply, using some of the more traditional ingredients and essential oils, or whether you forage for natural materials and create your own inspired mixture, enlisting the help of plants is very rewarding and the resulting water is truly a blessing. Use it to feed your altars or ancestors, bless spaces or tools, or simply to refresh a room or your own spirit. Enjoy!
Please note: this article was heavily edited on July 6, 2017 to reflect my current Florida Water process. Aside from a few cringe-worthy punctuation errors, the previous incarnation of this post was an accurate snapshot of my process when I first set out making this water, but I've adapted and grown over the years and my working has shifted. Because this is an often-viewed post, an update was long overdue.
If you don't want to make your own Florida Water, I sell bottles of my blend here.