|[Photo of home made sweet almond lavender oil. Photo courtesy of Hyemin Park]|
Traditionally, in myriad cultures around the world, lavender has been used for various purposes. It was used in ancient Egypt for mummification and perfume, in ancient Rome for cooking and bathing, and in ancient Greece for treating insomnia and back aches. In the modern era, lavender is most commonly used to help people cope with anxiety. More and more studies are adding credibility to the long-held efficacy of lavender, including one that showed lavender inhalation can significantly reduce anxiety levels. Looking at these effects of lavender, I thought, ‘Why not make my own lavender oil for my exam next week?’
|[Making homemade lavender oil. Photo courtesy of Rin Choi]|
Out of the many ways to make lavender oil, such as with essential oil or soap, I decided to make lavender-infused oil. Unlike essential oils, which are made using complicated extraction processes such as steam distillation, infused oils are much easier to make at home. The only major ingredients you need are the herb and some carrier oil. For the carrier oil, oils used for cosmetic purposes with a light texture and no scent, normally almond seed oil or coconut oil, can be used.
|[Homemade lavender oil. Photo courtesy of Hyemin Park]|
If the ingredients are ready, start by crushing the herb, in this case lavender, to make sure that the particles of the plant can be extracted effectively. Next, put the herb and carrier oil into the container at a ratio of 1 to 1. Finally, put the cover on the jar and leave it in a cool place, out of direct sunlight for two to four weeks. After the fermentation period, the oil can be used. In my case, however, I filtered the oil before I used it.
Now, you can use this final product for diverse purposes, some of which have interesting scientific explanations behind them. The oil itself is perfect for hydrating your skin and hair thanks to thanks to the fact that it acts as an occlusive agent. Composed of nonpolar particles, occlusive agents are a group of moisturizing ingredients that create a protective layer on top of the skin and prevent moisture from evaporating. The oil can also carry out its role as an emollient, another group of moisturizing ingredients that smooth out rough skin by filling in the spaces between skin cells. You can also use the extract to enjoy the scent of lavender when you want to relax or replace your perfume.
Meanwhile, although making my own lavender extract and researching its effects was very enjoyable, there were indeed some difficulties and mistakes. For example, the filtering process required a lot of time, much more than I expected. Since the glass funnels I used were too small, the filter paper was too thick, and the type of jar was quite unsuitable, due to its narrow neck, it took more than a few hours to filter the contents. Next time, I should use a larger jar and funnels and thinner patch or gauze but, this step is actually rather unnecessary and can probably be skipped. Moreover, considering that the oil should be fermented long enough to ensure that the components of the flower are infused sufficiently, I let it sit for four weeks. Well, this might have been too long because the oil started to smell bit sour. I think I should have left the jarsin a better spot with less light and less air inside them.
In this project, I explored one of the many ways of enjoying the benefits of lavender. Specifically, I made lavender-infused oil at home using basic ingredients. Despite a number of trivial challenges, my lavender oil journey was overall successful and exciting. Now that I’ve had this experience, next time, I’d like to try actually extracting essential oils using steam distillation, which is an even more challenging, but meaningful and engaging, activity.
Hyemin Julie Park
Hyemin Julie Park firstname.lastname@example.org
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