Coconut Calendula Salve
This was the first salve I ever attempted as it is so easy, and is still my favourite. Calendula is a great herb for numerous skin complaints, with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Think stings, wounds, burns, eczema, cracked nipples or just tired old gardener’s hands like mine!
Calendula (Pot Marigold) is one of the first edible flowers I supplied for Jamie’s Fifteen Cornwall, I couldn’t believe how easy they were to grow. They romp away giving you beautiful blooms all summer. Once you’ve grown them for one season, they’ll drop their seed and supply you with flowers forever more. For this recipe you’ll need to dry the flower heads out thoroughly first. Either tie in bunches upside down from ceiling, somewhere with good airflow or place on a mesh drying screen. If you have a dehydrator you can also dehydrate them on low setting.
If you don’t grow your own, try the Organic Herb Trading Company for dried organic herbs. Also Baldwins and Neil’s Yard Remedies sell dried herbs and equipment for making remedies.
First things first you need to make a Calendula infused oil. The traditional way is by the solar or sun method. Infusing the flowers in oil on a sunny windowsill for 2-3 weeks. But I generally decide to make the salves then and there and haven’t been that organised to infuse in advance. I therefore cheat and use a bain -marie!
Infused Calendula Oil
(Tip: do NOT let any moisture get into the oil as will spoil. Make sure all equipment is dry and that you wipe bottom of bowl with t-towel before pouring into jug/tins/jars etc. Make sure you use dried calendual flowers, not fresh for the same reason - fresh will bring too much moisture into the mix)
Makes roughly 275ml oil. 240ml is needed for salve recipe so you will have some left over for other projects.
Alternative base oils could include sunflower, rapeseed, olive oil. I like to use organic oils.
200ml coconut oil (if you’d rather, this also works well with just coconut oil - 400ml - but I find almond oil or another base oil suggested above makes the final salve a little softer)
200ml sweet almond oil
30g Calendula flower DRIED
Place oil and flowers in bain-marie (can be as simple as a glass pyrex bowl over a saucepan part filled with simmering water) and infuse gently for 3 hours. Don’t boil, just simmer. Don’t cover and don’t allow water to dry out underneath. If you want a stronger infusion, strain after 2-3 hours and repeat process with same oil and new batch of flowers. If you’re using coconut oil and it is set, allow to melt first before adding flowers.
Once cool enough to handle, strain. Line a sieve with muslin and pour oil and flower mix into a clean glass jug using a funnel if needed (using the jar makes it then easier to pour into final tins, jars etc.) Make sure you squeeze out as much oil as possible. Use tongs if you don’t want to get greasy hands at this point. If using hand allow the oil to cool off a little to prevent burning yourself, but not for hours so that the flowers soak up all the oil. The discarded flowers can go to your compost bin! Jar and label.
You can use the oil as is to rub into skin but I like to make into a salve as find this is less messy to handle.
Tip: Remove lids and lay out all your tins, jars etc that you will be using for the salve before you start. The salve starts to set once removed from heat so you need to be able to move swiftly.
35g beeswax pellets
240ml calendula oil
15-20 drops essential oil (I like Lavender or Rose Geranium)
Small pinch Turmeric
Dried Calendula petals to decorate
15ml tins if making lip balm sized pots (makes approx 20 x 15ml tins)
OR glass jars of choice (size or jar dictates final quantity but Balwins have good selection of 120ml or 60ml jars. Amber colour gives a better shelf life as less light gets in, but for presents I often use clear glass as you can see they salve inside.) If using 60ml jars recipe should make approx 4.
Heat the oil and the beeswax over a bain-marie until beeswax melted. Whisk with fork to speed up process. Once melted you’ll need to move fast once removed from heat as wax starts to set.
Remove from heat and add essential oil and turmeric, mix. Pour into glass jug taking care to wipe the wet bottom of bowl first to avoid any water drips. You’ll need oven gloves too as the bowl is hot.
From jug pour into 15ml tins or large jars of choice.
Decorate with dried calendula petals.
Allow salve to set, lids on and label.