There’s nothing quite like the distinctive, calming aroma of lavender. This punchy purple herb is easy to grow in any border or container, making it a staple around the world. Whether you have fields of land or a balcony, you grow and harvest your own lavender to produce oil.
It’s widely believed that lavender first originated from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and India, around 2,500 years ago. Did you know that when Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened, traces of lavender were found and its scent could still be detected? Proving what a staple lavender was and still is in every home.
What Is Lavender Oil?
Lavender’s calming scent comes from its vibrant purple buds that grow in spring and summer. After these buds have closed and the bees have taken the pollen they need, we can extract these buds to make oil.
The Beautiful Benefits Of Lavender
Since ancient times, lavender has been used to reduce symptoms and provide some relief for multiple conditions. Relaxing is the word we often think of when describing lavender. However, it has a lot more benefits that will help improve your daily life and make it a handy oil to keep in your medicine box.
- Insomnia Relief– Charles VI of France insisted his pillow always contain lavender, so he could get a good night’s sleep. People still use lavender in pillows today, research has shown that breathing in lavenders fresh scent before bed can help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed.
- Anxiety and Stress Relief – We live in a busy and stressful world, so we all experience stress from time to time. In 2019, a large meta-analysis discovered that people with anxiety disorders who took 160-milligram lavender oil capsules experienced significant decreases in anxiety
- Relieves pain and Antiseptic Qualities – The Romans named Lavender after its use in their bathing rituals (“lava” is to wash), realising lavender isn’t only relaxing, but also antiseptic. If you have a burn, cut, scrape, or another wound, lavender oil may help speed up the wound-healing process. In a 2016 study, researchers found that lavender oil promotes the healing of skin tissue.
If you suffer regularly from migraines and headaches, you might benefit from breathing in some lavender oil! One study in 2012 tested lavender essential oil’s ability to reduce pain in people who experience migraines. Results showed that inhaling the scent of lavender was effective in lessening the severity of symptoms.
- Helps Skin Conditions – Lavender can help the skin in numerous ways, It can lessen acne, help even skin tone, and reduce wrinkles. Due to its antibacterial properties, Lavender oil works to kill bacteria, and this can prevent and heal acne breakouts.
If you suffer from eczema, you may benefit from adding a few drops of lavender oil to your cream. Since lavender has antifungal properties and reduces inflammation, it can help calm your eczema.
What Variety Of Lavender Should I Use?
English Lavender is the best type to use for culinary and medicinal purposes. While French and Spanish types have a more bitter taste, they contain a higher amount of camphor which is a useful anti-inflammatory so you may wish to opt for this type if only used for medicinal purposes.
How To Harvest Buds
To reap the benefits of this powerful herb, you will need to take a few steps to make your own oil! The first of these steps is collecting the buds.
The best time of year to collect lavender is in Spring and summer, and if you’re an early riser, you’re in luck. Buds are at their strongest in the morning. To cut the buds, all you will need is a sharp pair of scissors or secateurs and a basket or bag to store and dry out the buds. Simply snip below the buds or down to the leaves, and place them in your bag or basket to dry out completely.
Everything You Need To Know About Carrier Oil
To create your lavender oil, you will need to choose a carrier oil to mix the lavender buds with. There are lots of options to choose from and ultimately this will depend on what you’d like to use your oil for. You can even mix a few different oils to make your own custom blend.
Olive Oil – This is my preferred carrier oil option as it’s readily available and provides a good base for a low cost. Olive oil is extremely hydrating and nourishing for dry skin and can be used in cooking. Olive oil contains a rare antioxidant called hydroxytyrosol which protects against free radical damage to the skin and is considered an anti-ageing compound. So it’s a good all-rounder!
Avocado Oil – Another easy-to-find oil in supermarkets is avocado oil. Avocado aids in reducing scars, inflammation and age spots while significantly softening skin. It’s also edible so can be used in cooking too.
Sunflower Seed Oil – An excellent choice for both dry or oily skin. Sunflower seed oil is very high in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals and reduces or repairs skin damage.
Argan/ Moroccan Oil – You’ll have heard of this super moisturising oil before as it’s added to lots of different skin and hair products. Argan Oil is proven to prevent sun damage, and reduce fine lines and excess oil production while softening skin. There are both edible and cosmetic-only types of argan oil, so keep an eye out for this when buying.
Some other types of oil include hemp seed, jojoba, rosehip and grapeseed oil.
What You Will Need
- Glass Jar with a lid
- Lavender buds
- Carrier oil
- After harvesting your lavender buds, leave them to completely dry out for a few days. To do this, simply hang the bag in a warm and dry room.
- Secondly, Fill your glass jar with at least ¾ full of dried lavender flowers or buds.
- Next, Pour your carrier oil of choice over the dry lavender, so that it’s fully submerged. Stir in and seal with the lid.
- Place your lavender jar in a sunny, warm location to infuse for one to three weeks.
Lavender usually floats in oil, so lightly turn the jar every few days to keep things mixed. A sunny windowsill is a perfect spot for this method of solar infusion extraction. I placed mine in the kitchen, so I remembered to turn it regularly.
- Lastly, after at least one week, strain the flowers and contain the oil. You can either use a sieve or a cheesecloth to do this depending on how big your lavender buds are. Now you have your own lavender oil!
Making Use Of Lavender Oil
Now that you have your homemade, natural lavender oil, it’s time to put it to use! There are lots of different ways you can use it in your day-to-day life, but here are a few ideas:
Add the oil to your facial moisturizer – As mentioned previously, lavender has numerous benefits for your skin. Add a few drops to your hands, spread evenly across your skin, and lightly massage in.
To use as a cleanser, lather your face with water and oil. Then, heat a washcloth and steam over your face for 30 seconds to a minute. Rinse and enjoy the beautiful scent of lavender and hydrated skin. Steaming draws out any impurities from your skin.
You can use lavender oil as an ingredient to make balms, sprays, soaps and ointment.
If you choose olive oil or another edible carrier oil, use lavender in cooking and baking! Lavender should be used sparingly. Otherwise, it can taste bitter. It’s commonly added to meat and fatty fish like salmon and tuna. This aromatic oil also adds a little something different to risotto and even ice cream!
How To Store and Preserve Lavender Oil
Storing and preserving your oil couldn’t be easier. Save the jar that you infused the oil with earlier one and give it a good clean. Add the freshly sieved lavender oil back to the jar and tightly seal with the lid.
The shelf-life of homemade lavender oil can vary depending on the type of carrier oil, but most last 1-2 years in a cool dark place. You can also add your oil to little dropper bottles to make it easier to use and apply to other products.
Now that you have homemade lavender oil, you can stay enjoying the natural benefits it provides for your skin, mood and sleep! You can even gift it to friends and family so they can enjoy its wonderful aromas.