1. Heat the petroleum jelly and the olive oil together very gently until the petroleum jelly has melted and a slow simmer is established. (To prevent burning, you may prefer to use a double boiler—combining the petroleum jelly and oil in a small pot that is then placed into a larger pot of boiling water, rather than directly onto the burner surface).
2. Add the blossoms to the heated mixture and allow them to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.
3. Strain the mixture through several layers of cheesecloth, pressing well to extract all the liquid from the petals. Return strained mixture to the pot and simmer gently.
4. At this point, the beeswax may be incorporated if a stiff, heavier ointment is preferred. Begin with very small additions of melted wax to the simmering batch. Experiment with the right amount of added wax to obtain the ointment thickness you prefer; each batch will have a slightly different consistency.
5. Pour the liquid into ointment jars and seal once it has cooled. If your cooled ointment is not as thick as you like, reheat and add additional melted wax.
You can experiment with variations on the basic ointment recipe to create specialized formulas or personalized gifts. Try substituting lanolin for the petroleum jelly to create a healing, moisture-rich treatment for winter skin. Use fragrant almond oil in place of olive oil to add a delicate scent to your ointment, or substitute vitamin E oil for olive oil to treat injuries with scarring. The versatility of calendula ointment makes it a safe and natural choice for a variety of first-aid needs, the perfect way to harvest the bounty of your garden all year long.
Calendula blossoms are used in this ointment recipe. Photo by AmberLynnLane/Courtesy of Flickr
By Sarah Kelch
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