The cheery orange or yellow blossoms of Calendula (Calendula officianalis) are a familiar sight in many gardens, including ours here at Happy Acres. A native to the Mediterranean area, the Latin name Calendula refers to the fact that in mild climates it blooms every month of the year, while officianalis means that it is used in the practice of medicine. Those colorful flowers have powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects that have made it a prized plant for centuries.
Calendula makes a beautiful display in the garden, and it’s easy to grow even if you don’t have a green thumb. It blooms prolifically from spring until frost, and a few plants will keep you supplied in plenty of blossoms. We dry calendula flowers in the dehydrator for later use throughout the year. Our Sunny Calendula Goat’s Milk Soap starts with dried calendula flowers, which are used to make an infused oil. And a few of the dried flowers are also ground up to add a little extra color to the soap.
The calendula infused oil can be made in either a few hours or a few weeks, depending on the method you use. If you’re in a hurry to use the oil, choose the hot infused method. And even if you don’t grow your own calendula, the dried flowers are available from a number of sources including Mountain Rose Herbs and Bramble Berry. I’ll have links to more information about growing calendula and making the infused oil at the end of this post.
For use in soap, I like to infuse the calendula in olive oil. This soap recipe calls for a little over six ounces of infused olive oil (180 grams), so be sure and use a bit more than that when infusing, since some of the oil will be absorbed by the flowers. Nine or ten ounces of oil should do it, and if you have any left over after making the soap you can keep it on hand for other uses. Calendula oil can be used on the skin to help heal minor cuts and scrapes, and for insect bites and skin irritations.
In addition to the calendula infused olive oil, this recipe uses goat’s milk instead of water for a liquid. Goat’s milk is loaded with vitamins and nutrients that are great for your skin, and adding it to cold process soap helps make a wonderful lather as well. I like to freeze the goat’s milk first in an ice cube tray. Freezing the milk helps keep it from scorching when it reacts to the lye, and I find the cubes easier to deal with than a big chunk of frozen goat’s milk.
This soap features a blend of olive, coconut and castor oils, plus 20% shea butter. Goat’s milk is used for its moisturizing and emollient properties as well as for the smooth and creamy lather. We use a small amount (up to 5%) of castor oil in most all of our soaps for its moisturizing and lathering properties. The soap is naturally colored orange by the calendula. We chose to add a blend of lemongrass and coriander essential oils for a spicy lemon scent, but you can choose your own fragrance or leave the soap unscented.
Please refer to the cold process instructions here if you are new to making soap. Always take the proper safety precautions (we wear rubber gloves and goggles when mixing and making the soap).
For more recipes and soap information, check out my wife’s Soap Recipe page. I’ll be back soon with more adventures. Until then, Happy Growing (and soaping) from Happy Acres!
For more information about growing calendula and making calendula infused oil, check out the following: