Scents of Provence

Home­made laven­der prod­ucts

Provincial Living - - Contents -

Not only does it smell heav­enly, but herbal­ist Natasha Flynn says laven­der also has nu­mer­ous health ben­e­fits. She shares her sim­ple, sweet-smelling laven­der reme­dies you can make at home.

When I think of Provence, I al­ways have ro­man­tic vi­sions of me­an­der­ing through fields sur­rounded by the dusky, vi­o­let hue, and the re­lax­ing scent, of laven­der. It is pure Zen.

We all know the re­lax­ing ef­fects of laven­der, but re­cent stud­ies have proven that it has many use­ful health ben­e­fits. Laven­der con­tains anti-in­flam­ma­tory, seda­tive and anal­gesic (pain re­duc­ing) prop­er­ties, and is also ef­fec­tive in elim­i­nat­ing cer­tain types of fungi and pathogens. So it is an im­por­tant rem­edy to have on hand around the home.

There are quite a few va­ri­eties of laven­der, but the most com­mon is “la­van­dula an­gus­ti­fo­lia”. Known as “English” or “true” laven­der, this is the va­ri­ety that you are most likely to en­counter whilst strolling through laven­der fields in the south of France.

De­spite the fact that this va­ri­ety is called “English”, it is ac­tu­ally na­tive to the Mediter­ranean, as is the other most com­mon va­ri­ety – “French” laven­der. This va­ri­ety has soft, vi­o­let-coloured flow­ers and light grey leaves. Its Latin name is “la­van­dula den­tata”.

The fra­grance pro­files of English and French laven­ders are dif­fer­ent, but they both yield highly ef­fec­tive es­sen­tial oils. Some de­scribe the French fra­grance as be­ing a lit­tle more “harsh”, but it is still sim­ply beau­ti­ful.

Here, I have shared some of my favourite laven­der recipes so you can start mak­ing a se­lec­tion of your own laven­der prod­ucts. Use these prod­ucts around your home and you will feel as though you are walk­ing through the laven­der fields of Provence ev­ery day.

To get started, you will need a small sup­ply of English or French laven­der. I ad­vise that you don’t use laven­der that has been sprayed with pes­ti­cides or grown near the road­side. If you don’t cur­rently have laven­der grow­ing in your gar­den, I highly rec­om­mend plant­ing some.

When mak­ing these prod­ucts, it is im­por­tant to use ster­ilised glass jars. My pre­ferred method of ster­il­i­sa­tion is to place the jars in the oven at 180°C for 30 min­utes, just prior to us­ing.

Laven­der aro­matic flo­ral wa­ter

Add one hand­ful of laven­der flow­ers to a saucepan with ½ litre of wa­ter. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 min­utes. Re­move from heat and al­low to cool. Strain cooled liq­uid through muslin or cloth and pour di­rectly into a ster­ilised glass jar. Dis­card the laven­der flow­ers.

Flo­ral wa­ter is best used on the day you make it, or you can add a dash of brandy to give it a longer shelf life. Use the flo­ral wa­ter in your bath, when wash­ing clothes and linen, or as a room or pil­low spritz.

Use these prod­ucts around your home and you will feel as though you are walk­ing through the laven­der fields of Provence ev­ery day.

Laven­der room spray and cleaner

In a ster­ilised glass jar, add a hand­ful of laven­der flow­ers to ½ litre of al­co­hol (brandy or vodka). Leave in a warm, sunny spot on the win­dowsill for five days, then strain through cloth. Dis­card laven­der flow­ers. Pour fil­tered liq­uid into a glass spray bot­tle to use for clean­ing and as a re­fresh­ing room spray.

Laven­der linen spray

In a spray bot­tle, com­bine 500ml of dis­tilled wa­ter, 30ml of witch hazel and 10 drops of laven­der es­sen­tial oil. Spray on bed linen for a sooth­ing fra­grance.

So­lar in­fused oil of laven­der

One of my favourite ways of ex­tract­ing ac­tive in­gre­di­ents from herbs is us­ing a method known as “so­lar in­fus­ing”, which re­quires lit­tle more than pa­tience and sun­shine.

If you are us­ing freshly picked laven­der, it is best to let it rest for 24 hours to evap­o­rate any mois­ture prior to in­fus­ing in oil. Fill a ma­son wide mouth-style jar with laven­der flow­ers. Cover flow­ers with olive oil. Us­ing a skewer, push flow­ers com­pletely un­der the oil. This helps to re­lease any air bub­bles.

Screw the lid on your jar and place in a sunny spot on the win­dowsill to al­low the oil to in­fuse for five days. Test your scented oil. If you would like a stronger fra­grance, com­plete the process again, adding more fresh laven­der to the in­fused oil.

You can leave the jar on the win­dowsill for up to three weeks. Top up the oil and check the strength of the in­fu­sion once a week.

Once the in­fu­sion is com­plete, strain through cloth and pour into bot­tles. Store in a cool, dark place or in the fridge for up to 12 months. This oil is per­fect to use as body oil, but can also be used as a base for salves and creams.

Laven­der balm

Heat 20g of pure beeswax gran­ules, chips, or beeswax sheets cut into slith­ers over low heat in a saucepan, stir­ring con­tin­u­ously un­til melted. Make sure you use an old stain­less steel saucepan or crock pot that you will only use for melt­ing beeswax, as this leaves a wax coat­ing on your pan or pot.

Once wax has melted, slowly add 100ml of laven­der-in­fused olive oil and stir well. Al­low to cool for five min­utes. Add an ad­di­tional 20 drops of laven­der es­sen­tial oil for a stronger scent and stir well.

Pour into glass jars and al­low to cool. Store in a cool, dark place or in the fridge. Use small amounts as nec­es­sary. Use within 12 months.

Photos: Bigstock.com - Ne­jroN Photo, Ias­mina, Thomas Klee,

Ves­nacvorovic, Yas­trem­ska, Anna-Mari West

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