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Rose infused hand salve…and plant nostalgia

Published: 31st Aug 2020

When the roses are in bloom I smell them all the time. Their scent is so delicious that ideally I'd like the flower to be as big as my head so I could bury my face right inside it, close my eyes and inhale. Which is why I decided to make a rose infused hand salve.

A jar of hand salve surrounded by rose petals from above

The salve contains shea butter, almond wax, coconut oil and olive oil, with a few drops of rose essential oil. I've put the recipe below. I warmed up the coconut oil (just by putting it in a sealed jar in a sunny spot) so that it turned to liquid and decided to add the rose petals to this. That's when I was whisked right back, many years, to making petal 'perfume' as a child in my parents' garden. I can guarantee that lots of other kids my age, older and younger did this too. For anyone not familiar, the perfume was simply rose petals and water in a jam jar. The petals would go brown and mushy and the water wouldn't necessarily capture the rosy bouquet you were hoping for but it was a lovely thing to make nonetheless.

Rose infused coconut oil

It wasn't the scent of the roses alone that took me back, it was the process; the beauty of the flowers, the jam jar, the summer light, sprinkling the petals into the liquid and watching them become submerged. I found myself spending longer than was needed on this part of making, just because I was lost in the moment of unexpected nostalgia and fascination. So strong are those connections with plants that the previously unrecalled memory still existed in it's full sensorial power after all that time.

Does the hand salve carry that gorgeous aroma of rose? No, the shea butter smell is stronger. Does it moisturise my dry gardener's hands? Yup it does. Did I love making it? Absolutely. Sometimes it's more about the process than the end result.

It's fine, I'm not in the business of creating toiletries. I'm all about how growing, eating, seeing, smelling and experiencing plants can enhance our wellbeing for the better and this was just another confirmation of that truth.

A jar of hand salve on a wooden table

Here's how I made the hand salve:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of almond wax
  • 250 ml of shea butter
  • 250 ml of coconut oil (mine was infused with rose petals for approx 48 hours)
  • A few drops of rose essential oil

The almond wax and shea butter are from Akoma. The coconut oil is Lucy Bee's.

First, strain the coconut oil to remove the rose petals (you don't need to use rose petals at all if you don't want to). Then put all of the ingredients except the essential oil into a heatproof bowl and heat over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl fits the pan snugly so that no steam escapes up into the mixture. Warm until everything is melted and mixed together, then remove from the heat. Let the liquid cool a little and then add several drops of essential oil (optional or use a different kind other than rose if you prefer). Pour into a heatproof container such as a jam or Kilner jar and let it set.