Last summer the nice Korean family gardening across the path from our community plot grew masses of amazing golden flowers. I asked them what they were and he said that they were Calendula and added that they were good for the skin. This year I grew some and, remembering what my garden neighbor said, looked into the “good for the skin” thing. Calendula, it seems, is used in different healing balms, salves and lotions. After perusing a few recipes on the Internet I decided to take a shot at whipping something up from the dried flowers I’d saved from the garden for this month’s Post Produce.
The lotion would consist of only three ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, and dried Calendula flowers pulled from four or five inflorescences.
I started by adding the flowers to two tablespoons of olive oil and gently warming it on the stove. Taking it off the heat, I let it steep for about an hour and then strained the oil.
To melt the beeswax I first broke it into pieces. Beeswax is less brittle and more sticky than candle wax, I noticed.
I started with six grams from my thirty gram bar. To melt the concoction I put the oil and wax inside a clean can—not a tuna can!—in a small pan of simmering water and stirred with a wooden stick. When it looked like the mixture was still pretty liquidy and not so lotiony I kept adding small amounts of wax.
Eventually I had added the entire bar. The next step I do not recommend. While I was lifting the can out of the pot with tongs I bumped the edge and splattered the oil and wax on the stove, counter, my shoe and the rug. As I was scraping and cleaning up the mess I realized there was too much wax in the mixture making it brittle so I added another tablespoon of oil, carefully placed the can in the oven on a piece of foil and alternately warmed and stirred.
Eventually, after gradually adding small amounts of oil it appeared to be maintaining an acceptable consistency. I scooped it into a small jar and tried rubbing a tiny bit into my hands. There appear to be some small bits of wax yet, but they smoothed out and didn’t remain a problem. This stuff is really waxy, though. After applying it I did have to wipe my palms so I could handle things without gumming them up.
It was an interesting exercise and I ended up with some nice-smelling if odd textured lotion. Were I to do it again I’d definitely use a recipe with exact proportions. The Calendula flowers themselves were ridiculously easy to grow from seed. In fact, I noticed some seedlings springing up around the mature plants late this past summer. Whether or not I make anything with them, I do intend to grow them again.