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DIY Calendula Oil Recipe

Calendula oil is fantastic for your skin and easy to make in a single day with this tutorial!

I remember the first time I learned about calendula. I was working at a historic site and doing research for a program on historic herbal remedies when I came across information about “pot marigold.”

I was really bummed when I realized that calendula, also called pot marigold or English marigold, is not the same thing as the marigolds that are popular for planting next to your tomatoes or in window boxes! We had some of these marigolds growing in the garden, but not calendula.

Luckily, even if you don’t have calendula growing at home, it’s very easy to find dried calendula and make your own calendula oil. Today I’m sharing an easy calendula oil recipe and suggestions for how to use calendula oil.

a jar of calendula oil with caption "how to make calendula oil"

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What is calendula?

You may have noticed calendula as in ingredient in some of your favorite lotions, creams, or soaps. But what, exactly, is calendula?

Although Calendula is a genus with 15+ different species, Calendula officinalis, abbreviated C. officinalis, is what’s used for calendula oil and cosmetic products.

C. officinalis is a member of the aster genus, which means it is a type of daisy. Marigolds commonly grown in gardens are members of the genus Tagetes and the two cannot be used interchangeably.

Interesting note – if you ever see “officinalis” in a plant’s name, that means it’s a traditional medicinal plant.

calendula flowers
Calendula flowers on a wooden table

Calendula has been used as a medicinal and culinary herb for thousands of years. It has also been used to dye textiles and to color foods like butter and cheese.

Calendula is valued for its healing properties and is frequently used to soothe and restore skin. It is also considered a digestive ally, especially when consumed fresh, in oil, or as a tea.

Calendula is easy to grow in most areas and it may even help deter insects from attacking other plants growing nearby. It grows quickly, is pretty, and both the flowers and leaves are edible.

People who sensitive to ragweed and other members of the aster family should avoid using calendula, and women who are pregnant should consult with their doctors before using it. According to Healthline, calendula is generally considered safe to use.

What is calendula oil?

People frequently say that calendula oil is calendula infused oil. Technically calendula oil is actually a maceration, but the two terms are used interchangeably in everyday conversation.

A macerated oil, or “infused” oil, is an oil that’s been used as a solvent to extract therapeutic properties from plants. Olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, and avocado oil are all frequently used for making macerations.

Other methods of extracting herbal constituents from herbs including making water-based infusions, also called herbal teas, alcohol tinctures, and glycerites. Each of these methods has different benefits and uses. Calendula oil is best for including in homemade balms and creams.

Macerations and infused oils are not the same thing as essential oils. Essential oils are made by means of distillation and are far more concentrated. Essential oils also not generally safe for internal consumption and are fairly difficult to make at home.

jar of oil with calendula petals

It’s very important to use completely dry herbs for infused oils. Herbs that aren’t completely dry introduce water that increases the risk of microbiological infection (your oil growing mold – ick!).

If you grow your own calendula, use your oven or a food dehydrator to ensure it is completely dry before making calendula oil.

People frequently make calendula oil using a “cold infusion.” They mix the flowers and oil in a jar, then set it in a sunny window sill for several weeks.

You can also make calendula oil quickly using a heated method. This is what I prefer to do, and it’s important to use a heated method if you want to use your calendula oil as a salad dressing or for other food purposes.

Pre-made calendula oil is also available for purchase, so don’t feel like you have to make it yourself if you don’t want to! Making your own is easy, though, and far more cost effective.

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Calendula oil benefits and uses

Calendula oil can be used topically, as an ingredient in skincare products, and even in food!

Ways to use calendula oil:

  • Calendula oil can be used topically to soothe dry, flaky skin.
  • Calendula oil is can hydrate and nourish your hair and scalp, especially if you have a dry, flaky, or itchy scalp.
  • Calendula oil is used in many skincare products like salves, creams, balms, lip balms, and diaper rash creams. It’s probably an ingredient in one of your favorite skincare products! A small, preliminary study found calendula helped ease symptoms of diaper rash.
  • Calendula oil may support skin’s healing. One study found a calendula aloe cream helped women heal more quickly after an episiotomy.
  • Calendula may help relieve acne, so calendula oil can be used as part of an oil cleansing routine.
  • Calendula is edible, so calendula oil can be used for cooking or as a salad dressing. If you want to eat your calendula oil, please follow the safety guidelines in the recipe to help prevent the risk of botulism.

If you’re interested in learning more about herbalism, Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs is a fantastic guide for beginners.

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How to make calendula oil or a calendula maceration

Materials needed for calendula oil

  • 1 cup of dried calendula flowers or petals. I used .25 ounces of dry calendula petals, which is about one cup of loosely packed petals.
  • ~2 cups of oil. EVOO, sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, and avocado oil are all popular choices. EVOO is inexpensive and easy to find, so that’s what I use
  • A clean glass pint jar and a second jar for storing the infused oil. I recommend sterilizing the jars using a hot water bath prior to use.
  • Cheesecloth, clean fabric squares, or Viva paper towels, for straining.
  • A canning funnel. You can also use a ‘regular’ funnel or a mesh strainer, but it’s much easier to use the correct tool for the job.

You can scale this recipe up or down if you want to make more or less calendula oil. Although I prefer a 1:2 ratio of calendula flowers to oil, some sources suggest a 1:1 ratio and others suggest a 1:4 ratio.

Quick calendula oil recipe

If you want to make calendula oil that’s ready today, not next month, or if you want to eat it, you need to use a heated method.

You can make calendula oil using a double boiler/hot water method, with a crockpot, or with a sous vide immersion cooker. I personally use my Anova immersion cooker because it gives me the most control. You never know exactly how hot your slow cooker is and watching a bain marie takes more attention than I (as a toddler mom) can give it!

I own the 1000 watt Anova, but the 750 watt cooker works perfectly well for making infused oils and medicines.

diy quick calendula oil recipe

How to make calendula oil quickly:

1. Sanitize your jar and equipment. A quick and easy way to do this is by spraying everything with 70% isopropyl alcohol then wiping it with a clean cloth or paper towels.

According to my School of Natural Skincare coursework, 70% is actually better than 91% isopropyl because the greater water content helps it permeate cell membranes.

2. For a pint jar, add one lightly packed cup of dried calendula flowers or petals. For petals, this is about .25 ounces by weight.

For more or less oil, fill your jar a little more than half way with calendula, then fill the jar with oil.

add calendula to jar

3. Slowly pour oil over the flowers to cover them. This should take almost 2 cups of oil for a pint jar.

add oil to calendula

4. Close jar firmly.

5. Infuse the oil for at least two hours using the heat method of your choice, then strain it into a clean jar.

6. To strain your infused oil:

Place two or three pieces of cheesecloth, flour sack towel, or Viva paper towels in a canning funnel.

Place the canning funnel on your clean jar and slowly pour the infused oil through the cloth.

Add all the oil and the calendula. Using clean hands, press and sqeeze to remove as much oil as possible from the petals. Add the petals to your compost bin and label/date your calendula oil.

You may also want to add 1% vitamin E oil to help prevent rancidity. Make sure to store your oil in a cool, dark place. It should keep 6-12 months.

How to use a sous vide cooker to infuse oils

  • Set up your sous vide immersion cooker and water bath.
  • Add enough water for your cooker to operate and to come at least half way up your jar’s side. I like to keep at least 1″ of space above the waterline and the jar’s lid to make sure no water gets in.
    • Depending on your water container and immersion cooker, you may need to set your jar on a plate, bowl, or a few canning rings to elevate it out of the water a bit.
  • Heat your water bath to 120ºF and infuse your oil for at least 2 hours.

In the photo you can see a glass lid in the pot. This is what I mean by placing something in your water bath to elevate the jars, if needed, to ensure no water gets inside during the infusion process.

How to infuse oils with a crockpot

  • Place a tea towel or hand towel in the bottom of your crockpot.
  • Set your jar on top and add water so it’s at least half way up the jar’s side and “cook” on low/warm for at least 2 hours.
  • Keep an eye on the water level and top it off, as needed.

How to infuse oils with a double boiler/hot water bath

So technically this isn’t a true double boiler, but it’s the same concept!

  • Place a few canning jar rings in the bottom of a cooking pot and set your sealed mason jar on top.
  • Add enough water to come half way up the jar.
  • Bring water to a low simmer and allow the water to simmer for 2 hours.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on the water level and top it off as needed.
bottle of calendula oil

How to make calendula oil for salad dressing (and other food use)

  1. Sterilize your canning jar and lid. I prefer the hot water sterilization method for jars.
  2. Make sure your hands and other equipment are clean, then infuse the oil with a sous vide cooker or with the double boiler method. For added safety, set your sous vide to 180ºF. This may destroy some of the herbal constituents in the calendula, but it will also kill off the botulism bacteria .

Although you’ll find people recommending using a cold infusion method to create infused oils for consumption, I do not recommend it due to the risk of botulism.

Fun fact – I minored in Hospitality and Tourism Management in college with a focus on restaurant entrepreneurship. My score on the Servesafe food safety exam was so high I was eligible to teach the Servsafe course! Botulism is serious – please don’t consume oil you infuse with a cold infusion method.

To be completely safe, you actually need to heat the oil to 180ºF. The University of Maine extension site has thorough page on infusing oils safely. This will probably destroy some of the beneficial herbal constituents, so if you want to consume calendula internally and receive the most benefits, you might just want to make a calendula tea by steeping calendula in hot water. You can also add fresh calendula flowers and leaves to your food (they make a nice, flavorful addition to a salad!)

Cold infusion calendula oil

Some people say that the cold infusion method is better on the premise that there’s no heat to damage the oil or delicate flower petals.

Since oil does go rancid, and UV light can damage oils and the calendula flowers, I prefer to use a quick, heated method. The cold infusion method is very set it and forget it, though, which can be handy.

Macerated oils made with a cold infusion are perfectly fine for DIY skin care products, just not internal consumption.

To make a calendula oil maceration with a cold infusion:

  • Combine calendula flowers and petals in a sterile glass jar.
  • Close the lid firmly.
  • Shake to combine.
  • Set in a windowsill or other warmish location and leave it for 4-6 weeks.
  • Shake whenever you remember to.
  • Strain into a second sterile jar for storage after at least 4 weeks.
Yield: 1 pint

How to Make Calendula Oil

How to Make Calendula Oil

Learn how to make calendula oil quickly using a heat processing method.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes

Materials

Tools

  • A sous vide immersion cooker, crock pot, or a small cooking pot.

Instructions

    1. Sanitize your jar and equipment. A quick and easy way to do this is by spraying everything down with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
    2. For a pint jar, add one lightly packed cup of dried calendula flowers or petals. For petals, this is about .25 ounces by weight.
      For more or less oil, fill your jar a little more than half way with calendula, then fill the jar with oil.
    3. Slowly pour oil over the flowers to cover them. This should take almost 2 cups of oil.
    4. Close jar firmly.
    5. Infuse the oil for at least two hours using the heat method of your choice (see below), then strain it into a clean jar.
    6. To strain your infused oil, place two or three pieces of cheesecloth, flour sack towel, or Viva paper towels in a canning funnel. Place the canning funnel on your clean jar and slowly pour the infused oil through the cloth. Add all the oil and the calendula. Using clean hands, press and sqeeze to remove as much oil as possible from the petals. Add the petals to your compost bin and label/date your calendula oil.

Notes

To infuse with a sous vide cooker:

  • Set up your sous vide immersion cooker and water bath.
  • Add enough water for your cooker to operate and to come at least half way up your jar's side. I like to keep at least 1" of space above the waterline and the jar's lid to make sure no water gets in.
  • Depending on your water container and immersion cooker, you may need to set your jar on a plate, bowl, or a few canning rings to elevate it out of the water a bit.
  • Heat your water bath to 120ºF and infuse your oil for at least 2 hours.

To infuse oil with a slow cooker:

  • Place a tea towel or hand towel in the bottom of your crockpot.
    • Set your jar on top and add water so it's at least half way up the jar's side and "cook" on low/warm for at least 2 hours.
    • Keep an eye on the water level and top it off, as needed.

    To infuse oil with a bain marie/hot water:

  • Place a few canning jar rings in the bottom of a cooking pot and set your sealed mason jar on top.
    • Add enough water to come half way up the jar.
    • Bring water to a low simmer and allow the water to simmer for 2 hours.
    • Make sure to keep an eye on the water level and top it off as needed.

    Don’t lose track of this tutorial on how to infuse calendula oil! Pin it now!

    homemade calendula oil

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    { 10 comments… add one }
    • Tessa Zundel November 26, 2019, 11:06

      Thank you, thank you for reminding me to make up another batch of calendula oil! I was going to make some calendula soap for Christmas gifts but I’m totally out of oil. I think I need a bigger kitchen. 🙂

      • Natasha November 27, 2019, 10:58

        Yikes! I don’t have much calendula oil left, so I’ll probably need to make more soon, too. I’m planning to make plenty of bags and soaps for Christmas gifts, too!

    • Emily Maze November 24, 2019, 21:42

      Wow! Thank you for this informative post! I got a calendula plant last year, though I only got a few flowers from it. Calendula oil is on my one day to-do list though!
      Thank you for the attention to detail in this post, too, like the difference between calendula and marigold, and that it’s better to use the 70% alcohol to sanitize! I had no idea!

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