Hello Everyone! I'm so excited about today's blog . . . I had a bountiful crop of gorgeous vibrant orange and yellow calendula flowers this summer and made a stunning medicinal oil from my harvest. This blog has several beautiful pictures of my flowers, the oil solar-infusing in my jar, and a recipe detailing how to make it (which comes from page 162 of my Hands-On Healing Remedies Book (Storey Publishing, 2012), which is available from online book-sellers and most bookstores nationwide. I've altered the recipe below just slightly - so it's a little different from the one in my book - but either work well. If you have a garden, I encourage you to dedicate some space to this glorious multi-purpose healing herb. You'll be well rewarded.
A little about Calendula (Calendula officinalis) . . . these flowers are known for their calming, anti-inflammatory, mildly antiseptic, and vulnerary (tissue healing) properties. Slightly astringent with a neutral-to-cooling energy, the infused oil can be used in facial oils, body oil blends, medicinal oil blends, salves, and balms for all types of skin - including infants and elderly, where gentle effectiveness is of utmost importance. Calendula-infused oil is especially beneficial for environmentally damaged, inflamed, abraded, cracked, chapped, or infected skin. The resinous, sticky, white sap from the calendula stem has been used for centuries as a wart remover, and the fresh flower juice (which can be extracted using a mortar and pestle) is one of my favorite remedies to help heal minor skin infections, hives, bites and stings, and skin abrasions.
Here are photos of the flowers infusing in extra-virgin olive oil and the finished, strained out oil . . .
Now, for the recipe . . .
Simple Calendula-Infused Body Oil
The sunny calendula flower is strikingly beautiful and intensely colorful, and it contains simple, potent, yet gentle medicine. Calendula-infused oil is mildly antiseptic, fights inflammation, stimulates skin cell regeneration, and conditions skin by helping to restore elasticity and suppleness.
The oil can be used alone or may be added to body oils, blends, salves, and balms intended to aid in the healing of all manner of skin irritations, psoriasis, eczema, stretch marks, burns, scars, cuts and scrapes, bug bites and stings, infections, dry skin, and diaper rash. I highly recommend that you keep a jar of this "miracle oil" in your medicine cabinet.
NOTE: I always make this infused oil in the summer or early fall, when I can pick the flowers fresh from my garden, but if fresh blossoms are unavailable, dried ones will do nicely, too. I prefer to use the solar infusion method, but also occasionally make it on the stove top in a saucepan on very low heat, in a double boiler, or in a crock pot on very low heat. Important: Fresh calendula flowers are very thick and sticky and need to be wilted or semi-dried for at least 72 hours prior to making this recipe so that a good portion of their moisture evaporates before introducing them into the oil.
- 3 cups dried or 4 cups freshly wilted calendula flowers
- 3-4 cups almond, jojoba, or extra-virgin olive oil (enough to cover flowers)
- 3,000 IU vitamin E oil (Tip - using 3, 1,000 IU capsules is most convenient)
Equipment: 1-quart canning jar; stirring utensil, strainer, fine filter, funnel, glass or plastic storage containers
Prep Time: 1 month
Yield: Approximately 2.5 to 3.5 cups (depending on whether you used fresh or dried flowers)
Storage: Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year
Directions: If you're using freshly wilted calendula flowers, cut or tear the flowers into smaller pieces to expose more surface area to the oil. You must first allow them to "wilt" or "semi-dry" for 72 hours before making this recipe . . . don't forget this step or a cloudy, slimy, watery-residue will form in the bottom of your jar - which is NOT good - and quickly promotes mold and bacterial growth. Just lay the flowers on a strip of paper towels in a dry area or in the back of your warm car. They'll soon start shriveling and wilting.
After wilting (or if you're using dried blossoms), place the flowers in a widemouthed 1-quart canning jar. Drizzle your chosen oil (I tend to use extra-virgin olive or jojoba oil) over the plant matter until the oil comes to within 1 inch of the top of the jar. The flowers will settle with the weight of the oil, so don't worry if it looks as though you don't have enough plant matter in the jar. Gently stir to remove air bubbles and make sure that all the plant matter is submerged.
Place a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar (to prevent the metal lid from coming into contact with the flowers) and tightly screw on the lid. Place the jar in a warm, sunny location such as a south-facing windowsill or set it out on your sunny deck, and allow the flowers to infuse for 1 month. Shake the jar every day for 30 seconds or so.
After 1 month, carefully strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a fine filter such as muslin cloth or, preferably, a paper coffee filter, then strain again if necessary to remove all herb debris. Squeeze the flowers gently to extract as much of the precious oil as possible. Discard the marc - or spent herb. Add the vitamin E oil and stir to blend. The resulting calendula oil can vary in color from deep, vibrant yellow to yellow-orange to bright orange. Pour the finished oil into storage containers, then cap, label, and store in a cool, dark cabinet.
Application Instructions: After a warm bath or shower, pat your skin almost dry and apply an even light layer of the infused oil to your entire body, massaging in gentle, circular motions until it is completely absorbed. Let the oil soak in for 5 to 10 minutes before getting dressed. If your skin remains oily, then you've used too much - use less next time. You can also massage this oil into dry skin anytime you desire - it sinks in so nicely. It's fabulous when used as your daily facial oil, too.
NOTE: This blog was written by Stephanie Tourles and recipe excerpted (and altered a wee bit) from her book, Hands-On Healing Recipes (Storey Publishing, 2012). The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.