Calendula Salve

I love making my own cosmetics and its really quite easy.  The trick is to find the best ingredients.  In Green’s book there is a recipe for calendula salve that is especially wonderful for people who are breastfeeding and whose nipples need some relief.  Well I do have a good friend who is in that very predicament, and her baby is starting to teeth!  Another friend of mine has mondo amounts of calendula growing in her garden so one day she let me come by to harvest some petals.  According to Green’s book you need to use the dried petals of the plant.  I harvested about 7 flower heads and put all the petals in some cheese cloth, then i hung the cheese cloth in a dark place in my house.  After a few days the petals were totally dry yet still have their vibrant color.  As I understand it that is what you’re looking for in dried herbs.  It should be dry, but still have a nice look to it.  If its brown or very faded then its no good.  So the next step I took was to macerate it in ethyl-alcohol for at least 24 hours.  I used the petals from the 7 flowers and added just enough alcohol to cover it.  My scale was not nearly sensitive enough to make an exact measurement.  But I was supposed to use whatever amount of grams and add that much amount of liquid in mL.  I know i know, I didn’t do a very exact job there.  Maceration simply means to soak your herb in a medium such as alcohol (ethanol not rubbing alcohol) or glycerin.  I went over the 24 hours because I didn’t really time it right to have enough time to carry out the next steps.  I don’t think that’s a problem, if anything it should have made the extraction stronger.  So a few days of maceration pass and hopefully the alcohol has extracted some valuable medicinal compounds from the petals.  Next I poured the ethanol-petal mix into the blender with about 5 times as much olive oil by volume.  So 1 part alcohol-herb mix to 5 parts olive oil.  Actually, because I had coconut oil as well I decided to use 1 part alcohol, 4 parts olive oil, 1 part coconut oil.  I blended it on high until the blender got slightly warm.  Next I poured this new mixture through some cheese-cloth to strain it into a double boiler so it was inside a glass cup which was sitting in a pot of simmering water.  Next I just let it cook until I couldn’t smell any more ethanol evaporating from the mix.  The idea is that you heat it until all the alcohol evaporates.  Technically some of the valuable volatile compounds that came from the flowers originally might have also evaporated.  I don’t know how potent this mixture ended up being.  But, I added some beeswax to harden it a little and I also added some sweet orange oil.  The whole cooking process took 2.5 hours.  Once I really couldn’t smell any alcohol I sterilized some containers (a jar and some heart-shaped plastic boxes) and just poured the mixture into them.  The mixture looked like a bright orange oil.  Once it all cooled which I let it do over night, it hardened to a nice soft salve consistency.  I was going to label the one for my friend in some clever way hoping to include the word nipple but I decided just to label it with the ingredients.  I delivered it to her husband who is also my friend and pseudo-coworker.  We got into a discussion of making your own medicine and how fun it is.  I’m hoping to start a revolution people and that was definitely part of it, just sharing the process and letting people know how easy and fun it is.  She emailed me later saying she loved it!  She also mentioned that its great for diaper rash and that usually that kind of stuff is really expensive.  So I’m glad its multi-purpose.  I’ve attached some pictures of the petals, the beeswax in my scale and the salve before and after cooling.

Here is just he small amount of ethanol-petal mix in the blender before adding the oil.

Here is the salve simmering in the double boiler.

It makes it easier to sort of shave the beeswax, it will melt faster.  Beeswax can be pretty tough and if you get it in a bowl or on a knife, be prepared to have it on there for a while.  I guess boiling water will soften it enough to remove it from utensils, but then the residue might be in whatever container that has the boiling water.

There is the salve still in its liquid form.


And its cooled!  A beautiful bright orange color and a subtle smell of orange.   Its very soft and rubs on the skin very smoothly.  Yeay for salve!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Ha! I have more pregnant women seeking the salve, so I will be harvesting more flowers this weekend and this time I’ll be more methodical in my measurements. If things go differently I’ll report on them.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Jim on December 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Great Post, I’m learning a lot form your blog, thank you!

    Reply

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