Friday, February 7, 2014

After Cloth Diapers: Herbal Infusions For Home and Health

My youngest son is now four. Cloth diapers are long gone but there are a lot of things that I am still learning about green living. My most recent experiment was making my own infusions at home using herbs, flowers and other natural ingredients. Check the bottom of my post for safety warnings if you are interested in making your own infusions at home! You can make lavender spray for just pennies and calendula ointment for just a few dollars.

My favorite was the lavender tincture. I filled a small half-quart Mason jar with lavender buds and poured vodka over the flowers. I let the covered flowers sit for about two weeks then strained the liquid into a different container. I use it for linen spray but there are lots of other uses. I just used a random bottle vodka that somehow ended up at my house since I don't usually drink alcohol or buy it. You don't need a specific brand and your measurements don't have to be perfect, especially if you are just using the mixture for cleaning or for a room freshener. You will notice that the liquid turns a beautiful purple color in just a couple days.

To make a spray, I add about three tablespoons of the lavender infused alcohol to about six ounces of water in a spray bottle. Smells really good! Lavender has antibacterial properties so I am sure there are dozens of uses for this type of tincture. I do recommend buying organic if possible!

I also make calendula infused sweet almond oil for ointment. I sometimes buy Boiron Calendula Ointment but, honestly, it costs about $12 a tube and I want something that is more affordable. We use a lot of ointment with small children and I don't want to spend too much or over-use commercially prepared antibiotic ointment.

Calendula ointment promotes healing and can be used for burns, scrapes and minor irritations. I just added about a cup of calendula petals to a jar then covered the petals with sweet almond oil. Let the oil sit for a few weeks then strain it. Sweet almond oil can be expensive so if you want to use something else I assume any oil would work just fine. I am considering using a combination of organic olive oil and coconut oil next time so that I end up with a balm instead of an oil. I usually stain using cheesecloth held with a rubber band over a jar. You can use the oil as-is or add it to melted beeswax or another solid oil base to make a balm if you like something a little neater.

I am really interested in herbs and other natural medicines but I do worry about whether I have made things properly. I generally never use herbal remedies that I have made at home internally, especially not for kids, and only use things that I trust for topical use. I would love some good recipes for herbal remedies, tinctures and balms. Frugally Sustainable has some great recipes if you are looking for something specific.


It is recommended that you avoid taking any of the recipes listed here internally. Mountain Rose Herbs is a trusted site for oils, flowers, and herbs. Always know whether herbs can be used internally before taking them! Some herbs can interfere with prescription medications or cause health issues in even healthy people. Use caution and research, research, research before making and using herbs at home.

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