One of my favorite summer rituals is making calendula oil from freshly harvested flowers. Calendula, Calendula officinalis, grows well in most environments and making oil from it is easy. It is good topically for healing skin, so I like to use is as a winter remedy on skin damaged by the summer sun. Also, it’s yellow and orange sun-ray-petals are like bringing a little bit of summer into the dark of winter.
- Glass jar with a plastic lid (you can line a metal lid with plastic wrap if needed)
- Wilted calendula petals (See instructions below)
- High quality oil for skin. I usually use almond with some apricot seed and a little jojoba. I don’t like olive oil because it goes rancid easily and can have a strong smell. The amount depends on how big your jar is and how much calendula you use. Try around 8-12 oz, to start out with, which will likely leave you with 4-8 oz of finished product.
- Harvest the flower tops. Spend a minute with the plant. Thank it and ask it for its help. I try to leave it with some kind of gift. An example is you can agree to plant more seed next year and blow on the leaves. It is the polite thing to do.
- Take the flower petals off of the base and wilt them. Wilting is an easy process that is used to reduce water content in the flower petals. This will make your oil last longer and stay fresh. To wilt the petals, lay them on a towel or piece of newspaper in a warm shaded room. Throughout the day, move the petals so they are getting aerated. Do this for a day or two so that the petals are still orange and fresh but have lost much of their water. Aim for about 1-2 cups of wilted petals. Keep in mind they will shrink a lot as they loose water.
- Place the wilted petals into a glass jar.
- Cover the petals with oil (one oil or a mixture of oils is fine). You want enough oil to fully cover the petals. Ideally there are no petals sticking above the oil. You may need to add some more oil after a day or so, as the air gets worked out. Also, it is good to leave at least a few fingers of air at the top of the jar with the lid on.
- Keep the lid on the jar and let it stand in a shaded, room temperature, area for a month. Shake the jar once a day or so. Shaking the medicine is a good time to give your formula some positive intent. Some herbalists recommend letting the oils sit in the sun. I prefer to not do this because warming the oil will help to break it down. This makes it more likely to spoil and less medicinal.
- After a month, use a cheese cloth and a colander to strain the oil and squeeze whatever you can get out of the petals through the cloth.
Now you have a calendula infused oil. It will have a warm golden color. Essential oils can be added at this time. You can use it as a regular skin treatment after a shower or a massage oil. If you are really savvy, you can use this oil in lotions and salves.
The process can seem like a lot, but it is quite easy. If you have any questions or would like some calendula petals, shoot me an email or call. I’m happy to walk you through the process.