Calendula is one herb that is known to those who create bath and body products as one of the gentlest and soothing of herbs. Calendula's popularity comes from its chemical properties which comprises of about 0.8% flavonoids which are chemicals that act as antixidants in the body.
Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals which are byproducts of the oxydation process. Studies show that calendula speeds up the healing process by increasing blood flow to the area and by stimulating collagen production to the site of healing. Collagen is a the main protein found in connective tissue and is responsible along with soft keratin for giving tensile strength and elasticity to the skin. The reduction of collagen in the skin plus other factors leads to the aging of skin and resultant wrinkles. Calendula is used in numerous ways to stop the proliferation of free radicals through its antioxidant properties.
The calendula flower is native to the Mediterranean and in common vernacular is known as Pot Marigold. It's folkloric and medicinal use is varied - it has been used as a dye, as food flavoring, and as a wash and dressing for wounds and skin inflammation.
The calendula petals as well as an oil infusion of calendula can be used as a superfatting oil in soap. I have made calendula soap using an infusion of calendula petals in oil and added superfatting oil at the end of trace before pouring in a mold. For those who would like to use calendula in a melt and pour type soap, calendula extract is a great alternative.
To Infuse Calendula:
* 1 Quart or more dried calendula petals. Pick through the dried herbs and remove any foreign material and stems.
* Have at least enough oil for the recipe.
* Heat oil until it is warm but not boiling. Turn off stove. Add calendula to hot oil and cover. Allow the herb to steep in oil for 2-4 weeks. Strain oil through a piece of gauze and bottle until ready to use. Keep out of sunlight and extreme temperatures.
* This oil may be used as one of the main oils in the soap recipe or as a superfatting oil.
Below is a sample recipe using calendula oil as the main oil in the recipe. Lanolin adds great humectant properties to the soap and the coconut oil is there to make the otherwise not so sudsey olive oil more sudsey:
Calendula Infused Olive Oil and Lanolin Soap Recipe
24 Oz. Calendula infused olive oil
4 Oz. Coconut oil
4 Oz. Lanolin
10 Oz. Water
4.07 Oz. Lye
Total batch size = 32 Oz. (2 pound loaf)
For directions on finishing this cold process soap see: How to make cold process soaps