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Wood fire-distilled floral water gives 'special' smell

STORY: This is an old-fashioned way to make Tunisia's

sweet-smelling floral water

It's a method passed down for generations

to make a staple the traditional way

[Daouda Ben Salem, Floral water distiller]

"I put roses or pelargonium flowers in the copper pot, then pour water over it, and then I put the lid on and close it. When it boils, the steam rises to the lid and then goes through the tube until it reaches the bottle that collects the water."

Floral water, such as rosewater, is widely used

in cooking, cosmetics and pain relief

Distilling with wood fire takes time and effort

but Ben Salem says it gives the floral water a 'special smell'

The 63-year-old is keen to preserve the craft

her ancestors passed on to her

[Souhaila Ben Ali, Daughter of Daouda Ben Salem]

"My mother started this work as a passion, and she passed this passion onto us and taught us all its details. We wanted to change a little in the distillation process to keep up with the times and become faster and use the new method that uses gas, but we did not get the same flavour, the same smell, and the same quality that comes from distillation in this Andalusian way on firewood. So, we continued using her method and now we teach it to our children to preserve it."

[Ben Salem at flower market, smelling flowers]

Ben Salem joins exhibitions dedicated to traditional industries

and her products are in high demand locally