In my increasingly self-sufficient life, I get a kick out of making my own household staples wherever possible. I DIY my cleaning products, soaps (naturally!), kitchen basics, and even random things like dog food and fabric softener.
I must confess, I am a bit of a ‘make your own’ nut!
In the Summer months, the mozzies and bugs were plentiful. That is when I began researching a healing oil. One that would ease itchy bites and soothe skin. Along the way,I stumbled across the amazing herb Calendula. Calendula (also known as Marigold) is a supreme herb with an astounding amount of healing properties. This humble flower is known to be wound-healing and anti-inflammatory. On top of this, it is also anti-microbial and anti-fungal. What is equally as exciting is that I have a friend whose amazing garden produces heaps of these spectacular golden flowers.
Amazing Healing Properties
Calendula, or Marigold as it is also known, is a hardy plant that grows easily in most environments and doesn’t need much care. Calendula’s sunny blooms are an external remedy for practically every manner of skin complaint. For optimal strength, be sure you’re using the whole flower. By this, I mean including the green flower base – instead of the “petals” only. Calendula-infused oils and salves are some of the most acclaimed topical applications for soothing and repairing the skin. More on that later…
Let's make some oil!
Now that you know a bit about the amazing properties of this flower, let us get to work! The best way to start using Calendula is to infuse it into a base oil. Once you have this done (and it's so easy to do!) you can use the oil to make salves and balms. Which oil you use is up to you, just make sure that it is a cold-pressed oil as these will have the most health benefits for your skin. If you decide to use Olive oil the smell will be a bit stronger so for my recipe I’ve gone with Virgin Sunflower or Macadamia oil.
Health Benefits of Calendula
Did you know that Marigold flowers are edible?! Yep, you can make soup out of them (check out this cool and informative video ) or just toss some flowers into your salad for a healthy added crunch. Edible marigold flowers are said to taste either mildly citrusy to subtly spicy too, well, like a marigold. Whatever you think of their flavor, the flowers are indeed edible and – if nothing else – a feast for the eyes.
Make a Calendula Infused Oil
Now that you know a bit about the amazing properties of this flower, let's get to work! The best way to start using Calendula is to infuse it into a base oil. Once you have this done (and its so easy to do!) you can use the oil to make salves and balms. Which oil you use is up to you, just make sure that it is a cold-pressed oil as these will have the most health benefits for your skin. If you decide to use Olive oil the smell will be a bit stronger so for my recipe I’ve gone with Virgin Sunflower or Macadamia oil.
Dried Calendula Flowers
Cold Pressed Macadamia or Sunflower oil
Fill a glass jar 2/3 of the way full with dried calendula flowers. If using fresh calendula, wilt for 12 hours to remove most of the moisture (too much moisture will cause the oil to go rancid) before adding to the jar
Pour Sunflower or Macadamia oil into the jar, making sure to cover the flowers by at least 3 cm with oil so they will have space to expand.
Stir well and cap the jar tightly
Place the jar on a warm, sunny windowsill and shake once – or more – daily.
After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth.
Pour the infused oil into glass bottles and store it in a cool, dark place.
If you need the oil in a hurry, you can add the oil and flowers to a slow cooker and infuse the oil using gentle heat for 1 to 5 hours, until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb.
I’ve discovered that having a jar of this oil in my cupboard has come in so useful for so many things! It is my go-to remedy for itches and bites and its skin soothing effects have been made use of many times! An even better way to use calendula is to build on its healing benefits by adding other delicious ingredients into the mix and creating a beautiful balm. Keep an eye out for another post covering THAT topic!