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Wales, United Kingdom
Documenting one couple's attempts to live a more self-sufficient life.

Monday 30 August 2010

Experiments with Flowers 3: Lavender

There's a magnificent lavender bush in the garden which I feel the need to use in some way.

This poses a bit of a challenge because, whilst I quite enjoyed the lavender cupcakes we had at Liz and Dunk's wedding, lavender's a bit of an odd flavour for use in cooking. So what, then? Well, how about cosmetics? I found a nice, simple-looking recipe for lavender moisturiser from MookyChic. It goes a bit like this:

Heat 80 ml almond oil infused with lavender flowers, with
20 g beeswax, until it melts
cool, and whisk in 50 ml lavender water and 50 drops lavender oil

That looked a bit heavy on the lavender and I couldn't be bothered to wait six weeks for flowers to infuse, so I skipped that bit. That meant the first step was to extract lavender oil and/or water from the flowers. Oil would be best because it would keep longer. I found instructions on eHow involving a large pan filled with a brick and various bowls, as well as the flowers, and ice added at the top. It promised a mixture of lavender water and oil at the end.

With some modifications (who has a pan big enough to take a brick?) I had a go at this. I ended up with a brown scented liquid that showed no sign of separating into oil and water. Oh well, no oil but at least I had the flower water. It smelt pretty strong, so I thought that would probably be enough.

Returning to the moisturiser recipe, I had a look at the other ingredients. Almond oil, hmm... not that readily available. Maybe I could use another kind of oil instead. I had a bottle of hemp oil that I'd bought for cooking and didn't much like (it smells a bit fishy - must be all those omega threes). That's supposed to be generally magical stuff, so that would probably be good in moisturiser. So, the modified recipe was:

Heat 80 ml hemp oil, with
20 g beeswax, until it melts
cool, and whisk in 50 ml lavender water

I tried this and it worked pretty well. The mixture ended up looking convincingly like moisturiser and the colour was a sort of pale orange, which was nice, considering how brown the ingredients had been. The texture was more body butter than face cream, but none the worse for that. And the smell... well it smelt of hemp oil. I dug around in the back of the cupboard and found that I already had a bottle of lavender oil (so why was I trying to make it? Oh yes, because it was there). I added some of the oil until the moisturiser smelt nice, and I'm quite pleased with the result. Definitely worth trying again, though perhaps I won't start from lavender flowers next time. I might try a different oil, too.