Thursday, May 15, 2014

How To: Calendula Salve

        In this post I'm going to teach you how to make a simple salve. It is one of my favorites, and has medicinal uses which I'll go over later. Calendula is also sometimes called Pot Marigold, but I haven't ever had much luck growing it in a pot - the roots need quite a bit of room. 
        The first thing to do is grow your plants. I'm not sure when they should be planted, so if you bought seeds refer to the package and if the plants sprouted on their own you don't need to worry about timing. ;)

This is a plant that I grew from some seeds harvested from a neighbor's plant.

This is an heirloom variety purchased from Baker's Creek.
        Once you have your plants up and producing, it's time to harvest! I usually do this 2-3 times a week depending on how sunny it has been and how quickly the flowers are maturing. You want to make sure you don't let many (or any, ideally) of the heads go to seed because that will stop the plant's production. I pinch off the flowers right below the sepels.

        Now, you don't absolutely have to do this next step, but I like to because it minimizes the amount of water that ends up in your slave. In my opinion, it's a good idea. So what is this next step exactly? Drying. I do mine in the dehydrator at whatever temperature it is set on already - it really doesn't matter that much.

        Next, pull all of the petals off of the heads. This doesn't take very much time for me because I've only got a few plants going at once. 

         If you're anything like me, the petals will end up more placed than where you want them.

         Put your petals in a jar, or go straight on to the next step from here (especially if your petals are fresh).

        To make the actual salve, fill a pint glass jar 2/3 - 3/4 of the way with petals.

        Fill it up with olive oil, and screw a lid on.

        Put the jar out in the sun for six weeks. The herb will infuse into the oil during this time. You can also do this infusion in a dehydrator for four hours, but I have found that the solar infused oil is much better.

        After it is all infused, strain the spent petals out of the oil. I do this with a fine kitchen strainer. Make a double boiler on the stove with a pot of water and a colander (or whatever works for you). Bring the water to a boil, and pour your oil into the colander. Add one ounce of beeswax; the more thinly you slice it the more quickly it will dissolve. Also add about a teaspoon of Vitamin E Oil (for natural preservation) and 25 drops of essential oil (for scent - this is optional). I like to use all lemongrass oil, or 20 drops lime and 5 drops orange.

        When it is all melted together, pour the oil into a pint glass jar (the same kind you used for infusion). Let it cool and harden, and you have your salve! You can test to see if it's a good consistency for you by dropping a bit onto an ice cube. It will harden in seconds and you can try it out.

        I use this salve a lot. A LOT. Whenever I take a shower, I rub it all over afterwards. If my skin is dry, it goes on again. It just feels so good! Calendula itself is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and amazing for your skin. It is very gentle and safe for children (although if you have allergies to daisies or whatever you may want to test the petals on you skin first). It can apparently be used to treat acne, but I have never had the opportunity to test that out. Maybe that is a good thing. ;) It also helps to sooth bruises and speed up healing in cuts and scrapes. When I started using it, I actually noticed a difference in how soft my skin was. The olive oil combined with the calendula is a great combination, and I find myself having to make lots of it in the spring and summer to keep up with our family's use of it. Funny, my neighbor saw that my mom had it on after she showered one day, and asked her if she had just had a facial. Now, I'm not quite sure what that is, but I'm taking it as a compliment to my salve. ;) Now a bunch of other people are asking about it and wanting some, so I have to make even more. Thank goodness I have about half of a dozen plants this year!
        I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Just so you know, the procedure can be followed with any herb of your choice, so do you research and maybe experiment! Let me know what you think!


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