Calendula.. ahh.. such an amazing plant!
This week for the farmers market at Hellviktangen, I am putting together more of my salves and ‘tub teas’. Throughout the summer I collected calendula from Ekebo, our collective farm. The more you pick, the more buds appear, it is amazing what mother nature can do. Once home, I laid them out on trays to set in the dehydrator. I prefer to keep the temperature down and wait longer than to rush the process and risk overheating the flowers.
Once they are bone dry, I remove the petal from their stems and store them in a clean airtight jar to be used in a myriad of ways. In order to make an infused oil from them, fill a clean jar halfway with petals and then top up with the carrier oil of your choice. Many use olive or coconut oil, but I prefer almond oil for skin products. Vitamin E can also be added to help prevent your oil from going rancid. Let the oil sit in a warm spot for 6-8 weeks, shaking often to help the infusion process. While reading up on the subject, I read that one could do the same with fresh flowers, I was doubtful, but decided to do a test to see what would happen. The concern being that botulism spores or other nasties could grow and produce an oil that is unsafe and even dangerous for use. So I took some fresh flower heads and left them in oil. It took a few days of pushing the flowers below the surface (I ended up weighing them down) but there was no question that what was happening in that bottle was something I would not want to use on my skin! There is an picture below, and you can see that there is a slimey area just above the flowers that would be interesting to have tested in a lab! So if you are doing this at home, make sure you use perfectly dry petals.
Note: some people try to shortcut the process by heating oil on the stove and simmering the petal.. I personally would not recommend this as heat can destroy the natural properties of calendula and reduce the shelf life of your oil.
So, what to do with your dry petals? So many uses, one of my favourite is ‘Tub Tea’ I have heat sealable tea bags that I fill with a variety of ingredients. I am definitely a tub person and it is nice to have something to toss in the tub that is natural and good for your skin. These teabags slowly release their goodness without making a mess of your tub. Do not put them under the spray of the water as they are somewhat fragile, just let them swish around). I make them in lavender as well (very relaxing), but the calendula mixed with oatmeal and powdered goat milk are lovely! There is no rule of thumb as to quantities, it is all a matter of preference.
The infused oil is what I use to make my favourite salve, the healing properties are endless. I will not go into it here, but google it and you will be amazed! To make a salve from your calendula oil is very simple. All you need to do is to gently warm the oil in a double boiler (or even a glass jar in a pot of water) add beeswax with some Vitamin E and pour into containers and leave to cool. Easy peasy! But a note of caution: When using beeswax, be sure to use the best possible quality you can, cosmetic grade at the bare minimum, organic food grade is best. Beeswax can retain toxins, and just because it looks clean and smells good, does not mean you should use it on your body. Craft quality beeswax is great for making candles and other purposes, but not for this!
and there you go.. you very own spa products 😉 Enjoy!