One of the things I have always looked forward to in owning our own home was that I’d finally be able to plant all those flowers and medicinal herbs in the garden, and now we have that opportunity. The bright orange petals of calendula (Calendula officinalis) who follows the sun & is filled with fiery, nourishing energies is one of my favourite flowers to work with. It is a humble flower, often overlooked but is found in many gardens and vegetable patches. People have known about the benefits of the calendula flower since ancient times, from the Egyptians who used it to rejuvenate their skin to the Greeks & Romans who used it as a culinary garnish (I highly recommend it for giving your salad some colour or making it into pretty ice-cubes). It is useful in repelling unwanted insects and attracting beneficial ones and it was one of the first flowers I planted when we moved to little haven.
Calendula is high in allantoin which helps promote healthy cell proliferation, is an anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. In other words, the best thing to mix with beeswax and make into a soothing salve to help ease skin irritations which, while working in the garden means I have quite a bit of through spring-autumn. Before we get to how to make the salve, we need a vital component for it – the calendula infused oil.
Now to make the oil is the simplest thing in the world but it requires patience and a daily reminder to shake the jar. All you need is a clean jar, dried calendula and a carrier oil. Now the key is to ensure that if you have picked calendula from your garden it is fully dry as you do not want to give any opportunity for mould to grow, or if you do not have calendula available you can use organic dried calendula from your health food store.
As for the oil you can use olive oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil. Do not be tempted to use coconut oil for this step (you will be able to use part of it for your salve later on), because coconut oil will solidify. Lastly ensure your jar is super dry. Then follow the instructions below:
Dried calendula flowers
x1 clean jar
Carrier oil (olive, jojoba or sweet almond)
- Fill your jar with dried calendula roughly up to the half way mark.
- Pour the carrier oil until it is almost full.
- Gently stir to ensure there are no air bubbles and that all plant matter is submerged.
- If you have a metal lid use a piece of baking paper in-between the jar and the lid so it does not come into contact with the liquid/flowers.
- Tightly screw the lid on and leave on a sunny window sill for 4 weeks, ensuring to shake the jar every day.
- After 4 weeks strain the oil through a fine mesh strainer or a muslin cloth into a new clean jar. Be patient and ensuring you get every last drop.
- Discard the flowers.
- Label your jar/bottle with what it is and importantly – the date.
- Store in a dark place and use it up within a year.
Now if you do not wish to take the next step and turn it into a salve, or if you are just feeling lazy, you can use the oil as it is. Here are some uses for it:
- Apply to insect bites to calm itching
- Use to soothe sunburned skin
- Apply to dry, cracked hands and feet or skin irritations (I prefer the salve as it won’t leak in my bag and easier to transport)
- Use a small amount as a moisturiser to calm you skin ease inflammation.
Health warnings: Using calendula is not recommended for pregnant & lactating women, can cause allergic reactions in some people as it is part of the Asteraceae family.
My oil has currently been infusing for around 2 weeks, after which time I will be making it into a salve so keep an eye out for that upcoming post.
Lastly, thank you for all the Instagram messages and emails with kind words about the blog. I have been told it looks like a dream, however I want to show that country life is not always as idyllic as our pictures may suggest and some days you unexpectedly end up covered in clay mud, have it caked through your hair and spend the day digging looking for a leaking pipe that has flooded the front yard. Like we did on Sunday.
It’s all part of the adventure of country living!