Image by Jason Pratt
Every year at about this time I start watching the lilacs for any sign of blooming. I always think of the saying, “a watched pot never boils”. I’m not sure what I expect to have happened when I check them several times in an afternoon! When those beautiful blooms finally do open, the race is on to see just how much time I can spend breathing in their heavenly scent. All too soon, the blooms will fade and this experience is lost to me for another year. unless I bottle some up to savor all year long!
I’m not a fan of synthetic lilac perfume. It simply must be the real thing. If you’re as crazy about lilacs as I am, I’m going to share my secret to capturing them in a bottle. This is the perfect flower for making my favorite bath oil.
Image by jafsegal
Bath Oil Directions
1. Choose an oil. While olive oil is the traditional choice for herbal oils, when you want to make a bath oil it is best to reach for a lighter oil that soaks into the skin quickly. I like grape seed oil, but you could use others such as almond, apricot kernel, jojoba or sesame.
2. Pick your flowers. In this case we’re going to use lilac, but you can choose any other strongly scented flower. Pick your flowers in the morning (around 10-11am) and spread them out in the shade. The process of wilting your flowers is very important. Using them fresh picked will create too much water content in your oil. This will result in a cloudy, rancid oil that you will not want to use. The natural question here is if you couldn’t just use dried flowers. You could, but you won’t really capture the essential oils and vibrancy that you can get in a slightly wilted, fresh flower.
3. Roughly chop the flowers and place them in a glass jar. The size of the jar depends on how much oil you wish to make. I like to cover my chopped flowers by 2-3 inches of oil. If you’re doing this for yourself a quart jar may be enough. If you want enough for gifts, you may want to do a half gallon.
4. Steep. Find a quiet shady spot on your counter top or even your porch outside. Whatever location you choose you will want to remember to gently shake your oil every couple days. For a traditionally prepared oil, this process will take between 4-6 weeks. Check your oil (smell it) after 2 weeks though, you may find that you like it exactly as is and don’t need anymore time.
5. Strain. Use a fine mesh strainer to separate out your finished oil. You may now bottle it in an endless variety of containers. Glass is best but beyond that you can use anything from a recycled wine bottle to an antique store treasure you find just for this purpose.
6. Enjoy! Your bath oil is now ready to use as a moisturizer when you step out of the shower, as a bath additive or even a massage oil.
Be sure to store your oil away from direct sunlight or heat and it should last for a year or more.
Do you use bath oils? Have you ever made your own, and if so, what is your favorite flower or flower combination?
Dawn Combs is a homesteading mother of two, Aidan (3.5) and Jacy (2). She has a B.A. in Botany, is a practicing herbalist and an experienced sustainable beekeeper. Dawn owns Mockingbird Meadows Honey and Herb Farm in Marysville, Ohio with her husband Carson. She writes about her experiences on their farm in her blog, Homesteading is. Her first book, an herbal entitled Building Healthy Babies, Whole Food and Whole Plant Health for Preconception, Pregnancy and Lactation will be in bookstores in August and details her personal triumph over infertility with whole food and herbal strategies. You can follow her on Facebook at Mockingbird Meadows, Honey And Herb Farm.