Recently, I bought a fun book by a lady who calls her self the Nerdy Farm Wife (see her blog here: https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/) and I discovered the world of oil infusions! The Nerdy Farm Wife infuses flowers and herbs that she grows herself, but since it's only the end of March here in London, things are just starting to sprout, so I decided to just order the dried flowers and plants that I wanted to use. As I discovered, dried flowers are very light, so one kilogram of Chamomile should last me sixteen years or so. I'm also well stocked in calendula, marshmallow, lavender and roses...so get ready to experience a lot of infusions!
On Monday, after a weekend away in the beautiful sunshine of Lisbon (more on that soon), I found myself back in London, tired, and needing a pick me up. It was cold, but sunn, and I decided to do some foraging along the Parkland Walk near Highgate Wood in North London. My focus, through all my DIY projects is to create things for sensitive skin, so I thought I would go out and look for some plants that are known to sooth irritation, bug bites, itchiness, etc. My goal was to pick some Dock Leaves (great for using as a salve for bug and nettle stings, helps sooth red skin) and I knew what they looked like, but I also wanted to get some Plantain leaves, which have similar soothing benefits. Unfortunately, upon returning home, I checked with an expert and realized I had picked Dock and Wild sorrel...so now I know what sorrel looks like! I also picked some dandelions and daisies, which have a number of soothing qualities when infused in oil.
When I got home, I washed the leaves I had collected and spread them out to dry on a piece of brown paper on our dining room table. Then I turned to the large quantities of dried chamomile flowers I had purchased.
Chamomile tea is synonymous with relaxation and the flower can do the same thing for your skin. I find that essential oils can really irritate my skin and I don't really like the smell of chamomile essential oil, so I was excited to see if I could make an oil that could provide the soothing qualities of chamomile with a less overwhelming scent. I filled an old jar up halfway with the flowers and then the rest of the way with sweet almond oil. Then I did the same with a smaller jar, dried lavender and sunflower oil.
If I were really patient, I would have then put both jars into the cupboard and left them for about a month to infuse. I am not patient and was eager to get on with lots of chamomile and lavender infused oil projects so I put the tops on the jars and put them in my little used crock pot (which is a great oil infuser). Then I left them to slow cook for about 4 hours, while I cleaned the house and listened to the Mars Room by Rachel Kushner on Audible.
Once my jars of infused oil were cooled off, I stuck them in the cupboard and, finally, yesterday I had the time to actually make some things with them!
But first, I had to separate the oil from the flowers. I started by using a 'fine' sieve, but it wasn't fine enough to catch the smaller flower parts, so I filtered the oil again through a reusable, muslin tea bag and that did the trick. I was shocked that I managed to complete this process without dropping the oil, spilling the oil, getting oil infused flowers all over the kitchen or other such disasters, which are common to my life. In the future, I might invest in bigger reusable tea bags to spare myself the anxiety involved with trying to get every single tiny bit of flower out of the oil.
The infused oil, though, is worth the effort. It has a beautiful smell that's not overwhelming and I used it in a couple of successful lotion projects yesterday (Camomile and honey infused hand and body lotion and lavender body butter bars). I didn't need to add any essential oils to the mix because the infused oils smelled so nice without them.
My dock leaves are looking pretty crispy now, so I'll be able to infuse them with some oil soon and will be all ready to treat future bug bites and nettle stings with whatever concoction I come up with. And London hay
fever season is in full swing, so dandelions are in abundance. Stay tuned....