They're bright, they're beautiful and they're one of the easiest flowers to grow, but somehow dandelions are one of the least loved blooms in the garden. Let me help you fall in love with these pretty petalled florals!
Dandelions are classed as a common garden weed, a persistent, perennial pest that grows all over lawns, borders and patio surfaces. Most of us gardeners spend our time digging them up by their roots or mindlessly mowing over them.
Traditional Chinese and Native American herbalists see the dandelion very differently. The flowers, leaves and roots have long been used to treat stomach and liver complaints. Practitioners today believe that it can aid in the treatment of many additional ailments, including acne, eczema, high cholesterol, heartburn, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, and even cancer.
There are so many uses for dandelions;
- Steeped into a tea
- Added to breads and biscuits
- Dipped into batter & fried into bhajis
- Young leaves in salad
Today I want to share with you a few of my favourite recipe ideas for topically applying dandelion especially for acne and eczema prone skin. These are also great for aches & arthritic joint pain.
The first step is to pick lots of dandelion heads. The simple technique for this is to place two fingers beneath the flower and pull upwards - no scissors required. Pop the flowers into a basket. Try to collect from garden spaces and safe areas where you know dogs won't have peed all over them! Even though you won't be ingesting these recipes, it's still best to choose dandelions that have not been sprayed with chemical fertilisers or pesticides.
The next step is to thoroughly clean your dandelion flowers. Place them in a big mixing bowl and cover in cold water. Use your hand to stir the flowers, removing any debris and dirt.
Strain the water and repeat two or three times until you're happy your flower heads are nice and clean. Squeeze the water from the flowers and lay them out onto a flat surface. Leave them to dry naturally either in the sunshine or beside a radiator. The flowers have to be fully dry. Make sure they’re free of any surface water before moving on to the next steps. Any water left in them can lead to mold, so you want to be sure they are as dry as possible. Drying dandelions 100% is difficult - they tend to go to seed. Simply let them wilt overnight. If you can not see any water drops, you are good to go and ready to proceed with the infusion.
Dandelion Infused Oil
Before we can move on to making soaps and salves we're going to need our basic dandelion infused oil. This is really simple to make and only requires a little patience! You can speed the process up, but there's something lovely about patiently letting the flowers do their thing.
What You Need
- 750ml oil (you can use olive, sunflower or almond)
- 1 Litre Jar
- A fine sieve or muslin cloth for straining
- Use boiling water to sterilise a 1 litre jar
- Place the flowers into the jar until almost full and cover with your choice of carrier oil
- Using a wooden handle of a kitchen utensil, or a chopstick to carefully poke the mixture to remove air bubbles
- Seal the jar with a breathable lid such as a square of muslin cloth and elastic band and place it on a sunny windowsill or in other bright, warm location. Leave it for 1-2 weeks gently shaking once a day. The cloth will let some water evaporate and potentially prevent any mold formation
- If you prefer a more traditional infusion, store your jar into a dark place or in a cupboard and leave it there for 4-6 weeks, gently shaking every few days
- If you really want to speed things up on the other hand, set the open jar down into a small saucepan filled with a few inches of water. Heat over a low flame for 1-2 hours, making sure the water doesn’t evaporate entirely
- When your infusion is ready, strain the mixture through a sieve or muslin cloth, then pour into a clean sterilised bottle or jar
- Oil infusions generally have a shelf-life of up to a year if stored properly out of direct sunlight
This is such a wonderful recipe for soothing chapped skin & eczema, but equally brilliant for soothing arthritic or painful joints. I've used carnauba wax instead of beeswax, because beeswax is non-vegan. You can use beeswax instead if you prefer. I'll include some Amazon links below so that you can source the ingredients online.
What You Need
- 200ml dandelion oil
- 30g carnauba wax (I bought mine here on Amazon) Beeswax works too but is non-vegan
- 50g shea butter (I bought mine here on Amazon)
- 3 x 120ml amber jars (like these on Amazon)
- Add the oil, carnauba wax and shea butter to a heat proof bowl
- Set the bowl gently onto a pan containing several inches of water
- Gently bring the temperature up to a medium heat and stir occasionally until the wax and butter is melted (it might take a while to melt carnauba wax as it has a really high melting point - be patient!)
- Remove from heat and carefully pour the liquid between three 120ml amber jars. Allow to cool until it sets
- To use the balm, massage between your fingers to warm and melt slightly, massage into painful skin or joints