Calendula in the Processing Department
The rhythm of the harvest is performed in close coordination with its processing. This means that, at Weleda, we only harvest as much as we actually process. Immediately after harvesting, the freshly picked flowers and herbage are brought to the plants processing department, a quick five minutes’ walk away.
The modern building is flanked by nature, with a terrace opening onto a small lake and the medicinal plant garden just beyond. Within the walls of this modest-sized facility, Anita Müller and her colleagues are busy at work.
Müller’s responsibility is to get the best out of each plant and preserve it by natural means. In the production of calendula extract, she does everything to obtain as much as possible of the plant’s qualities and active compounds, making them available for use as ingredients in our ointments, creams, oils and essences. In order to preserve the calendula’s valuable substances and properties, extraction agents such as alcohol, water and oil are used. There are three different procedures for processing and extraction.
In order to preserve the calendula´s valuable substances and properties, extraction agents such as alcohol, water and oil are used.
I get to experience calendula up close, from how it grows until it is harvested at the height of its maturity and then brought to us in the plants processing department.
Anita Müller, working for Weleda for more than 25 years
An alcohol-based calendula extract is prepared for use in our healing salves and natural cosmetics. Fresh flowers and green herbage are crushed in large stainless steel bowls within seconds. This plant pulp is mixed with ethanol and water, filled into even larger stainless steel containers and stored at a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius. “The medium stores the plant’s information, so that the calendula’s active ingredients are transferred into the extraction agent,” explains Müller. Then the pulp is pressed and rests again for three months, before the resulting tincture, dark green in colour, is filtered out
Our brine extract, which is used in our children’s bath, is particularly mild and gentle,” says Anita Müller. Instead of oil or alcohol, this time brine – a mixture of water and sea salt – is used to preserve calendula’s properties. Crushed calendula flowers are combined with salt water, then covered with a thick layer of sea salt and stored in a sealed extraction vessel. After ten days, the extract is pressed and filtered. This special procedure is used exclusively for our Calendula Cream Bath.
For our skin creams and body care products, an oil-based calendula extract is produced much in the same way as the alcohol extract, only in this case, the dried plant is used. To open up the plant’s cells, the dry plants are sprayed with a fine layer of ethanol. Afterwards, the plant pulp is mixed with natural plant oil, such as sesame or almond oil. The extraction takes place over 4,5 hours at temperatures up to 68 degrees Celsius. Similar to the transfer process that occurs during an alcohol extraction, the oil absorbs and stores the calendula’s properties. After being cooled and pressed, the clear concentrate can be used as an ingredient in our products.