Florida Water Isn't That Mysterious After All

Chances are, you’ve seen the tall, slender bottle of Florida Water on a shelf in a local botanica, witch shop or metaphysical apothecary. But what is this brisk-smelling stuff? It’s most commonly used for cleansing or purifying. Eliminating negativity. Washing that bad juju right outta your hair. Or off your hands, or from your home, or off your spiritual tools, or whatever. But that’s not how it got its start in life.

Regardless of how it’s used in spiritual practice, it was born as an American copycat of Eau de Cologne, a citrus-based fragrance. Cologne, indicated that it was made in Cologne, Germany.

That’s it! There was no mystical beginning to this well-known bottle of liquid.

Back in the day, however, many believed Eau de Cologne could protect the wearer against contracting bubonic plague by repelling fleas. Some folks even drank it believing the oils would work their way out through the pores!

Just so you know, we don’t recommended that.

At all.


The original Eau de Cologne was a sharp, slightly sweet and bitter citrus blend invented in the early 1700s. Murray & Lanman Florida Water with the fancy label, the stuff that you probably see most often, isn’t identical to Eau de Cologne, but it’s close. It was first manufactured in the early 1800s.

Chances are, the bottle of cologne that Scarlett O’Hara gargled in Gone With the Wind was none other than Florida Water.

Scarlett O'Hara Gargles Florida Water

Look familiar? Yup. I've never heard anyone else mention it, but that bottle she's holding has always looked exactly like Florida Water to me.

Although the recipe is elusive, perfumers tend to agree that it contains sweet and bitter citrus oils, perhaps some herbal oils, perhaps some floral oils and just a pinch of something spicy.

The actual recipe, however, is under tight lock and key.

There are loads of recipes available in books and online for making your own Florida Water. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But every recipe that you see is an attempt to duplicate the perfumer’s recipe.

There is no such thing as a magickal, mystical recipe that anyone has found within the pages of a dusty, ancient grimoire. There is only the Murray & Lanman cologne, which, itself, is a copy, and which has also been copied by other perfumers and metaphysical cologne manufacturers.

Fortunately, real deal Florida Water is ridiculously cheap, even if they do still claim that it's the most popular perfume in the world and the richest perfume of all, or some such. It's not even perfume by strict definition, but that's another topic for another day.

Murray & Lanman Florida Water, which is a nod to the Fountain of Youth that's believed to be in Florida, is usually used for purification in spiritual practice. Sold in early apothecaries or pharmacies, it developed a reputation over time for everything from curing headaches, soothing nerves and easing tension to reducing fevers, soothing skin after shaving, calming insect stings and bites, and cleaning wounds.

Some of those aren’t surprising, considering the insane alcohol content.

But that still doesn’t answer the big question: how did Florida Water become so intrinsically tied to spiritual work?