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Calendula oil. Poppy oil.

November 1 2009 at 2:45 AM
from IP address

(Hi there.. I've been here before 2006, 2008..., and had the same problem each time. Every time I try to set up an account, no matter the password I chose, it says that I can't have non-alpha numeric characters, which I don't use, and so I've just given up trying to create an account)

....to more important things.

I'm going to do a cold oil infusion of calendula petals but have struck a divergence of opinion. Some say never use fresh petals, only use dried and others never use dried and always fresh.

Some put their oils in the sun, and others don't. Some say sun ruins the oil; others say that's not true, because it's no different than heating the oil and doing a hot oil infusion.

Is there a defintive answer on this one, or is divergence of opinion not important?

1) Do I dry the calendula flower petals?

I'm also going to do a poppy oil, which is mentioned here: http://www.myherbcorner.com/wiki/index.php?title=Poppy except my poppies are multi-layered pink not red. I don't know what they are, but they've always grown here without anyone's say so... in the 30 years we've been here, and were here for decades before that too, so we are told. They are really pretty, so I thought I'd give it a go.

2) Which would be better? Hot oil, or cold oil?

3) Would I dry the poppy petals as well?

I'll put the poppy one in the sun.... :D

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Sarah Head

Re: Calendula oil. Poppy oil.

November 1 2009, 12:06 PM 

Hi Hilary

Good to see you back again!

As with all things herbal, there is no real right and wrong way, just the way which suits you best and gives you the results you want. As you will have noticed, calendula flowers are sticky and smell strongly of "resin". When you dry them they take much longer than any other flowers - I usually allow at least a month, even with a gentle heat.

When making an infused oil, there is always the question of what to do with the water content if you are using fresh flowers. Some people advocate always using dried flowers or leaves to infuse, but then you lose some of the vital energy from the oil. If you are making an infused oil by the double heated infusion method, the water layer isn't so much of a problem, because you can just let it stand for a while at the end of the process and then decant the oil layer off the water layer.

If you are going to use sun infusion, then the moisture content of the herb is much more of a problem. You have to make sure that your oil covers the entire surface of the herb so no air can get in, otherwise you will have mould growing on the top and you've lost your entire oil.

If you're going to do the sun infused method, you're also looking at a six week infusion time, rather than four hours for the heated method, unless you live in Arizona or another place where temperatures are extremely high during the day. Darcey Blue makes her infused oils overnight by burying them in hot sand with good results.

Christopher Hedley, whose expertise I admire and value, recommends drying calendula flowers before making an oil because of their resinous nature. I follow his advice. Calendula oil is the only infused herbal oil I make from dried flower petals by the double infused heating method. I have never made a sun infused calendula oil in this country because you would only be able to make a single infusion (unless you were willing to spend three months making one batch of oil) and I'd be very worried about the mould problem.

Given that you have a greater probability of a hot summer than we have, if you have sufficient calendula flowers, I would suggest you dry half and infuse half fresh and see what the difference is with each oil. It would be great if you could report back when you've finished and let us know how you got on.

I'm afraid I don't have any experience with poppy. You might want to let it wilt for a day before infusing it so you reduce the water content before you immerse the petals in the oil.

Kate, who also posts here and at the Herbwifery Forum is also in NZ and she may have more experience in this area.

Best wishes


Karen lawton


November 1 2009, 8:47 PM 


We make lots of calendula oil and I have had trouble with fresh flowers a couple of times as they have gone mouldy in the oil and omitted a horrible cheesy scent -But I have never had any problems with dried petals and by that I mean a week in the airing cupboard dry.

I always leave the oil making on my sunny south facing window ledge and normally leave them making for anywhere from 3-12 lunar cycles.

Never worked with poppies n oil.

big love
K x


Re: Calendula oil. Poppy oil.

November 2 2009, 5:38 AM 

Thank you so much for your answers.

I will dry the petals first. I looked back using a search to see how to do that,... again, there is divergence. I'm leaving them on the flowers rather than plucking them off - on the basis that I see that mentioned here on a post... but again, some books say to take the petals off. I'm presuming that taking the petals off would make the drying faster because the petals wouldn't draw moisture from the stem slowing the drying down.

on the other hand, does plucking the petals stretch them and result in bruising and damage?

Just thinking out loud here.

Whatever I do, I will report back :D


One report back - a bit late - in 2006 I asked about elderberry and comfrey together. I chopped it all up and jammed it hard in a jar, and left it on the barn window sill. I retrieved the jar last week, and opened the lid, and found a very unique, highly, disgustingly, aromatic ensilage, which nearly made me spew. Out of interest, even the hens went the opposite direction.

It went in the compost bin which is "locked away" from the hens.

I'm going to do the same thing again, as I have abundant elderberry leaves and comfrey, but this time, will fill up any "spaces" with oil, and see what happens. happy.gif

Sarah Head

Re: Calendula oil. Poppy oil.

November 2 2009, 12:28 PM 

Hi Hilary

Just to clarify, when I dry my calendula, I dry the flowers whole and then pluck the petals off and store them in a glass jar. It's fiddly, but definitely worth it! By putting a paper bag over the glass jar to keep out the light, I've kept their vibrant colour for at least 18 months. Otherwise I'm lucky they don't turn to straw in 12 months. The petals swell to amazing proportions if you're using them with water and you only need a small amount for tea. I always make my tinctures from fresh herb. The colour from the flowers doesn't colour the petals as much as it does an oil, but it's still a pale orange and has a slight fragrance.

With regard to your comfrey and elderflower leaf mixture, can I make a suggestion? Don't mix them. Whether you are using a sun method or heating in a water bath, always make single oils and then mix them with other oils as you want to make a salve. The only time I break this rule is when I'm doing demonstrations and I don't have enough of one herb. Then I will do combinations that I know I want to work together, such as comfrey, yarrow and plantain.

Although elder is good for bruises and comfrey has stronger overall healing properties in the bone/ligament/skin area, it's not a combination I would instinctively think of.

Interestingly, although elder leaves stink when you rub them, when I've made a double infused oil with the leaves, the smell was not overpowering or unpleasant and it just made a normal salve. As I tend to favour yarrow and plantain for bruising, I haven't made an elder salve for years. I will experiment next spring.

The comfrey leaf makes a very dark, rich green oil, again with little scent, but noticable strength of action on application. It's strong enough to handle being infused in olive oil, which is more easily absorbed than sunflower.

I would imagine your previous mixed oil has fermented/gone rancid from being left so long.

Good luck with your new ventures and let us know how you get on.

Best wishes



Thank you Sarah.

December 13 2009, 7:10 AM 

thank you for those instructions.

I never got around to using any of the poppies at all, because they flowered over two weeks when we had nothing but rain, rain and more rain.

but I've taken photos, and will put them on photobucket so you can see.

Also, they grew nearly twice as high as they normally do. Now, I've got tomatoes in next to where they are, and they are growing like a jungle, and not setting flowers to tomatoes, so I'll need to do some magnesium sulphate and sulphate of potash to see if I can neutralise too much chook poo dug in during the winter.

Silly. I should have known.

I've another question for you but think I should start another thread....

You are such a blessing on this board. All of you are. I love this board, and people so willingly share their knowledge.. and ideas. It's great.

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