Calendula, or pot marigold, was introduced to me only a few years ago. My next door neighbor and I often share our garden goods, and she kindly gave me a small bag of seeds. That first year, I planted them and was shocked when these little orange and yellow flowers started blooming amongst my weeds. Planting flowers from seed was a relatively new venture for me at the time, so it didn't take much to get me excited. Since then I have learned a lot about this pretty little flower, and it's one that is now in my regular garden annuals repertoire.
Not only is this a sweet flower to add to a summer bouquet, but it has many culinary and medicinal uses as well. If you're curious to learn more, do a little digging online, and you will be bombarded with great ideas and information.
But today, I am going to be sharing a favorite use of calendula by my cousin, Liz. Her mom is my hero when it comes to gardening, and has amassed a vast knowledge of plants over the years. A few weeks ago, Liz shared a picture on Facebook of her homemade calendula salve, and I asked her to share her recipe with me. Enjoy!
Calendula is a tiny yellow flower belonging to the marigold family also called “pot marigold.” The Calendula flower is reported to have benefits of being anti-inflammatory and helpful for skin ailments such as rashes, eczema, sunburn, acne and diaper rash. Some literature dates the use of calendula in creams back to Greece as it seems to have origins in the Mediterranean area.
Calendula is a very easy to grow annual that grows widely in many peoples gardens. The more you pick the flower from the plant as they open, the more the plant will continue to flower until a hard frost comes.
We like to dry our flowers and herbs in a food dehydrator and store them in an airtight jar so no mold forms. The drying process is imperative when making an oil infusion, as the moisture in the plants can cause mold or bacteria to grow in the oil. However, if making a tincture, you can use alcohol to pour over the fresh herbs, as the alcohol draws the medicinal qualities out of a plant.
To make our calendula infused oil, we gather calendula petals and dry them in a food dehydrator. Next, you place the dried petals in a jar of olive oil, mom does not have scientific measurements of petals but states the oil must be entirely covering the petals. She places her dried petals in a pint jar and pours the olive oil over it. You agitate and shake the jar once a day, and leave the petals infusing for at least four weeks. Then finally you strain the debris, and your calendula infused oil is ready.
Once the infused oil is prepared, you can make the salve. A double boiler technique was used to melt our 1/4c. Beeswax, ¼ c. Coconut oil, 1tsp. Shea butter and our 1/2c calendula infused oil. The double boiler is necessary to heat the oils to a liquid state to combine (the shea, beeswax, and coconut oils are solid at room temp). We also scented our salve with four drops therapeutic grade essential oils (lavender, for its yummy scent and soothing properties) and have been told to add 1/4 tsp vitamin E oil as it extends the shelf life. When all of the ingredients are combined into a homogenous mixture, pour it into your containers and let it cool into your salve.
This salve does have a shelf life as that it is made out of all natural products. You can find other store bought products but do note many have preservative ingredients added.
Happy Salve Making!
Of note, some sources state not to use if pregnant or breastfeeding, not sure the impact as not much scientific research goes into herbs and pregnancy. It does state over and over that it is gentle, generally safe for all age groups, and a common ingredient for baby’s diaper creams.
Elizabeth Helming is a Registered Nurse who works in Labor and Delivery.