Sitting across from a flickering candle, I watched a shaman prepare for an ayahuasca ceremony by pulling out a small bottle of clear liquid. Reading the label from afar, I saw agua de florida.
At the time, I had no idea what agua de florida was (also known as acqua de florida or Florida water), but the smell and the sight of it made me avoid it. For some reason I felt no desire to use the agua de florida and never have.
Upon further inspection, the popular agua de florida product was produced by two Jewish fellows in New York City by the names David Lanman and Robert Murray in 1808.
Over 200 years is a long time and this product has permeated shamanic culture in South America, but some alternatives might be better.
Agua de Florida: A Cost Effective Perfume
In the 1700 and 1800s, much of the fashion and style originated in Europe. One feature of high European society was the Eau de Cologne or Cologne Water.
The Florida Water was the American response, which was shifted slightly to meet new world standards.
Due to myth, the fountain of youth was said to be in Florida and Florida Water was a reference suggesting that their product was akin to the fountain of youth.
It gained popularity around the country, somehow spread to central and south America, and finally ended up in remote villages in the jungle that have very little western influence.
The same product developed in 1808 is what you can find on the store shelves today (including the same designs!)
How Did Agua de Florida Become so Popular?
A great deal of agua de florida appeal comes from the cost. The product is manufactured to be extremely cost effective, comes in plastic bottles, and lasts a long time.
Compared to other fragrant products, it is much more affordable and many people in central and south America simply don’t have the luxury of paying attention to their ecological footprint.
The question of how agua de florida became so popular is one that has interested hundreds of people across the internet.
There is no good answer to this question.
It is clear how cleansing agents like palo santo or sage might have become popular in shamanic circles and indigenous cultures; the wood from their surroundings had specific properties that made it useful for spiritual use.
How an alcohol-infused fragrant water from New York City became a major part of indigenous ceremonies, such as ayahuasca, is a mystery.
Florida Water Ingredients
In a standard bottle of Florida water, you will find a series of ingredients some of which are less appealing than others:
These are the two main ingredients with the fragrance coming from:
- Rose and orange flower
This is a relatively basic product and all of the fragrances are pleasant. Our only concern was around the high alcohol content, which can dry skin and cause headaches, nausea, or irritation in some people.
So we created our own…
Florida Water Recipe
Even though we produce Yuska, an alternative agua de florida for sale, we want to provide the formulation for our readers to make themselves.
After all, almost everyone who is using agua de florida is doing so in order to follow a more spiritual and connected path. We hope to support everyone who undergoes this journey.
#1. Clear yourself and space
Setting the intention with your agua de florida is important so that it may be cleansing for you during ceremony.
To do this, do a short meditation, smudge with palo santo or sage, or take a barefoot walk outside. Whatever you feel most comfortable with to become grounded.
#2. Gather supplies
Use whichever herbs you like, but our Yuska was formulated with the following:
- Fresh rosemary
- Rose buds / petals
- Distilled water (or natural spring water). Place the water in the full or new moon to charge before use if time allows.
- Chamomile essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Ylang ylang essential oil
- Palo santo essential oil
- Citronella essential oil
- Containers to hold your agua de florida alternative
Add all dried and fresh herbs to 2 parts water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to simmer and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Optional: express gratitude for each plant as you add it to the water and mixture.
Let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Strain the herbs from the liquid using muslin or cheese cloth. We recommend placing the cloth over a wire strainer and squeezing out the excess liquid.
After you have strained the mixture, add 1 part grain alcohol and stir.
Add an additional 2 parts of distilled or spring water and stir.
Transfer the liquid into smaller, portable containers and add 5 drops of each essential oil that you have chosen. Each drop represents the 5 elements: fire, water, earth, air, and spirit.
Shake before use and ENJOY!
Where to Buy Florida Water
If you are looking for the traditional Florida water, the company’s website online is a great place to go (and they sell it cheaply by the case).
For those who prefer a more eco-friendly, higher quality ingredient agua de florida, we have formulated our own Yuska made with reusable glass and natural spring water from Austin, Texas.
Why is Agua de Florida and Ceremony Important?
Will there be health benefits or cleansing that results from using agua de florida? There is no real way of knowing, but it adds an element of anchoring for a ceremonial experience.
When you smell palo santo smoke, see the agua de florida, and smell the fragrance, it can anchor a mental state that provides more clarity of mind.
In our past, humans have looked to ceremonies and communal gatherings in order to bring people closer together.
As we have moved into cities and away from natural environments, it becomes all too easy to lose a part of our humanity.
Whether the ceremony is something like ayahuasca or even a cacao ceremony performed at home, sitting in circles is the way we were meant to live.