An ultimate herbal ally for the skin, calendula is known to shine as a topical application for dry and irritated skin, but can also be used internally in teas, broths and culinary oils. Its Latin name is Calendula officinalis and its entire flower head with green base containing resinous bracts, not just the petals, has medicinal properties.
Having the same root as the word ‘calendar’, calendula had been noticed to flower throughout the ‘calends of every month’. It’s originally native to Europe, but has been naturalized through North America and other parts of the world. Related to marigolds and is sometimes called pot marigold, calendula has no toxic look-a-likes.
Calendula can be cross-reactive with ragweed, feverfew, chamomile, or echinacea, so people with these allergies should exercise caution.
So why and how should you make your calendula infused oil?
Calendula is filled with flavonoids and antioxidants, including carotenoids, quercetin, and lutein. This peer reviewed study supports the use of calendula oil in treating skin injuries and for conditions such as contact dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis and more. Calendula has long been studied for its healing skin properties of various conditions.
Calendula oil is a wonderful way to cleanse your face instead soap and water. Since 'like attracts like', it will bind to the oil that our face naturally secrets and draw out the impurities stuck in the pores. Learn more about the Oil Cleansing Method here.
You can use many different types of oils to infuse calendula depending on the preferences, budget and intended use. I like to use olive oil for body applications and lighter jojoba, sweet almond or apricot oils for face.
Although you can use fresh calendula to infuse the oil, I recommend using dried for a getting a shelf-stable result, especially for beginners. Fresh plant material contains water and the infusion will run a risk of potential mold development.
Note: Keep all your supplies that come in contact with the oil clean and sterilized.
You can run your jar and sieve through a hot dishwasher cycle or place on a baking tray in a cold oven. Set up the temperature to 120 degrees Celsius and leave it in the oven for 20 minutes. Put your lid in a heat resistant bowl and cover with just boiled water. Keep them submerged for 5 minutes, remove and completely dry. For parts that can’t be covered with boiling water, spray with high-proof alcohol and let dry. Wash your cheesecloth or nut milk bag in hot and soapy water and dry completely.
All equipment has to be bone-dry!
There are 3 common methods to make calendula infused oil.
Option 1: Cold Infusion Folk Method
-Fill your sterilized jar half to 3/4 way with calendula.
-Pour your oil of choice into the jar covering the herbs by at least 1 inch keeping in mind that the plant material with expand as it absorbs the oil.
-Place a piece of natural waxed paper on top of the jar, then place the lid, label and shake well.
-You can put the jar in a brown paper bag and then place on a sunny windowsill for a few days. Exposure to light will degrade the quality of your oil.
-Move your jar to a dark cabinet or closet and let sit for 6 weeks.
-Every other day, open the jar to check if the herbs are still completely covered by the oil and shake the jar to redistribute the material. Top off with a bit more oil if needed.
-Put a fine sieve over a measuring cup and line it with a cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Strain, squeezing with your hand to help extract the last drops of your gorgeous infused oil.
-Transfer to a new sterilized bottle, label and keep in a dark spot.
-Compost the plant material.
Option 2: Warm Infusion Quick Way
If you would rather not wait 6 weeks for the oil to infuse, you can speed up the process by using the stove top.
-Place your jar in a double boiler and simmer as low as possible for 3-4 hours.
-Turn off, let cool and then repeat the process 3-4 more times.
-Make sure no water gets into your oil as it will compromise the quality of your final product.
-Watch the process carefully as the water can easily evaporate and you risk to scorch your oil.
-Refill the water bath as needed. Strain, bottle and label.
Option 3: Alcohol-Intermediary Method
This is by far my favourite method that learned from Kami McBride. This produces extra-strength super-potent oil that extracts maximum compounds from the plant.
You’ll need to use a kitchen scale to get a high-quality oil infusion.
-Weigh 1oz of dried calendula and pulse it in a blender. This will increase the surface area of the plant material and release more compounds into the oil.
-Place the pulsed calendula in a non-metal lidded container and add 1/2oz of vodka. Mix thoroughly making sure all the herb is coated in alcohol. Cover and let sit for 24 hours.
-Transfer calendula to a blender and add 7oz of a carrier oil. Blend for a few times a day about 5 minutes each time for 2 days.
-Transfer the blender contents into a pint jar. Make sure the herb is covered by the oil. Lid, label, shake and place in a dark spot for 6 weeks. Shake every other day or so, checking the oil level and topping off if necessary.
-Place a sieve over a measuring cup with a spout and cover with a cheese cloth or nut milk bag. Pour the calendula oil over and wring with clean hands, squeezing each last drop of the goodness.
-Bottle into a sterilized vessel, label and transfer into a dark spot.
Your calendula oil will last for about 1 year.
There you have it. Your own calendula infused oil that you can generously use for your whole family needs be it helping with dryness or irritation.
Have you tried making a calendula infused oil? What’s your favourite method?