Thursday, December 4, 2014

Learn How to Make a Calendula Lavender Salve

Calendula is an herb of our dreams when it comes to healing.  It is antiseptic, detoxifying, and cleansing.  It has properties that can help your body to heal both topically and internally.  It can help with cuts and wounds, burns and sunburn, insect bites and stings, rashes (including diaper rash), cradle cap, and even hemorrhoids and varicose veins.  When taken internally, it can help with a number of issues, including digestive problems, cramps, and cleansing and nourishing the lymphatic system.  Good stuff!  And, calendula is edible too: Some edible uses of this herb include adding the flowers to stews and soups, salads, and decorating baked goods with it.

Calendula has cheery bright small orange and yellow-colored blooms, and they bring nice color to the garden.  The bees seem to really like them, and they continue to bloom for several months once established.  When harvesting the blooms, all one needs to do is snip them off with scissors or pinch them off with your fingers.   And, the more you harvest the flowers, the more they will keep growing.  The high resin content feels somewhat sticky upon harvesting.

Calendula is an annual herb that produces many seeds, so once you have planted it, you will have plenty of seeds for future years.  It has been reported that calendula can self sow its seeds, but I have planted it by seed both years that I have grown it.

Admittedly, until recently, I had not actually used any of the calendula that I have grown in my garden over the past two growing seasons.  I had very good intentions for using it, but had just not gotten around to taking any action.   Then, I became increasingly interested in learning how to make all sorts of herbal remedies, got on an herbal remedy making kick, and I made my first homemade herbal salve, a comfrey one

While the comfrey salve is truly awesome and healing, you cannot use it on any open wounds because it will cause them to close up far too quickly before they adequately heal.  So, I do love that salve, but I needed an herbal alternative to the conventional triple antibiotic ointment that I have used in the past for cuts and open wounds.  Enter calendula, which is absolutely safe to use on such “owies.”  And, I also wanted to add lavender to the salve, since it is one of my favorite herbs (I adore the way lavender smells!), and it also has antiseptic and disinfectant properties in its own right.

The process of making the calendula lavender salve was pretty much the same as when I made the comfrey salve.  

First, I infused 1 1/2 cups of extra virgin olive oil with enough dried calendula flowers and dried lavender flowers (I admit that I didn’t measure them exactly.  Try adding 1/4 cup of each herb at a time to see if you have enough) to cover the herbs in the pot with 1-2 inches of oil.  I used a double boiler technique to keep the oil from getting too hot.  According to the famous herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, 95-100 degrees F is a perfect temperature range to make an herbal oil infusion, but do the best you can with keeping the temperature as close to this as possible.  

I let the oil infuse on my stovetop for approximately four hours (3-5 hours is a good amount of time), and then I strained the herbs from the finished oil.    For more information on this process, please refer to my post on making a comfrey salve.

All of the ingredients needed to make the salve: extra virgin olive oil, lavender, calendula, lavender essential oil, and beeswax beads.

The dried calendula and lavender flowers after adding the olive oil, but just prior to infusing the herbs in the oil for about four hours.  Please refer to the post that I wrote on making the comfrey salve, as I used this pot inside another pot as a makeshift double boiler.

The calendula and lavender infused olive oil after the herbs were strained out.
You can either use this oil right away to make your salve, or you can set the infused oil aside for another time to work on this project.  You don’t have to do it all at once!

2.) To make the salve, I followed the recipe for making a calendula salve in Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.  Therefore, I give credit to her for this information, but here are the basic ingredients:
  • 1 cup of your infused oil 
  • 1/4 cup grated beeswax or beeswax beads
  • 4-6 drops lavender essential oil
  • A pinch of tumeric root powder (optional, for color)
  1. Warm the oil (you can warm the oil in a pint mason jar within a pot holding a few inches of water and then add and combine all of your ingredients within the jar).

2. Add and stir in most of the beeswax and melt the beeswax within the oil.  This can take awhile for all of the beeswax to melt, but everything should look clear once it has fully melted.  

Rosemary suggests in her book that when making the salve, you should reserve one tablespoon of the beeswax, and then add more if desired after testing for consistency.  Check for consistency by putting some of the ointment on a spoon, set on a plate, and then set in your freezer for a minute or two.  Add the remaining beeswax if you desire a thicker ointment, and add a little more oil if you desire a thinner ointment.  

3.  When the salve is at your desired consistency, add the essential oil, and then add the optional tumeric powder for color.

4.  Pour the ointment into jars or tins and let cool.  Store in a cool dark location (such as a refrigerator), and it should keep for at least a year.

My finished calendula lavender ointment (the dark spot is just from some of the herbal material that had not been strained out of the oil, which is not a big deal).

Apply this ointment topically as needed to skin rashes, wounds, cuts, and to infant skin issues such as cradle cap or diaper rash.  Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had any children, I would much rather use something like this on their tender skin than a conventional product containing who knows what chemicals.  As always, if you are unsure if this remedy is appropriate to use in a particular situation, or if the condition is very serious, such as a very serious wound, please seek the help of a qualified medical professional.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is an awesome tutorial. I can't wait to try this. Thank you for sharing this healthy, natural salve on the Special Holiday Edition of the Healthy Happy Green a Natural Party! Happy holidays!