Things have been going much better in the lavender department since I switched to a new variety lavender dentata. This variety is not quite as heavily scented but grows well in our harsh environment. This year has been quite a bumper year so I was determined not to let any flowers go to waste.
I only use three things on my skin; witch hazel, olive oil, and natural unscented olive oil soap. That might sound rather limited but there are so many different ways to use olive oil that you’ll never get bored. I make my own lavender oil as a treatment for my skin, as a massage oil for tired muscles, and as an insect repellent in summer. Here’s how I make it…
Picking and drying lavender.
For absolute best practice the flowers should be harvested when they first start to bloom but that means you are picking every day and that you’ll have flowers drying at different rates/stages. I’m a bit less picky and I prefer to harvest my flowers in batches, meaning I’ll have a variety of blooms from new to old.
I sort the flowers by length of stem so that they’ll hang and dry more easily.
Our tiny bathroom has no external windows and is usually quite warm so it’s the perfect place for lavender to dry slowly, out of the sun, for about seven days. Once the flowers snap off the stems, as opposed to the stems bending, I know they are completely dry.
Lavender infused Olive Oil
To make lavender infused oil first snap off all the flowers from the stems and leaves. You only want to use the flowers for this, placing them in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid.
Once you’ve filled the jar with lavender flowers, pour olive oil over the top until the jar is full. I’m using our own handmade olive oil but you can use any extra-virgin olive oil from the supermarket.
Store the jar somewhere warm, with the lid on nice and tight. A sunny window works great. Lavender tends to float so be sure to shake the jar regularly so that all the flowers get a good soak in the oil.
After seven days remove the flowers from the oil. I like to use a fine cheesecloth, pouring the whole contents of the jar through the cloth to make sure it’s completely strained.
Now your lavender infused olive oil is ready to use. Go easy at first as you cannot predict how your skin will react but the good news is olive oil and lavender are usually pretty safe and non-reactive. Good luck!