my kitchen apothecarium, part two

flax-seed-gel2

I thought I’d re-visit the topic of homemade personal care items with another recipe, this time with a lavender-scented hair gel made from golden flaxseeds. When cooked in hot water, flaxseeds release a clear, thick liquid that works great as a gel. This recipe is adapted from Naturally Healthy Hair by Mary Beth Janssen and will work for both girls and guys. I’ve added a teaspoon of coconut oil for its conditioning benefits; though I’ve not tried them, olive or almond oil might be nice too. If you prefer a scent other than lavender, you can try a different essential oil; before doing so be sure to read the “important note” section in the recipe. 

The consistency and feel of the gel, which is very similar to egg whites, is a little different than commercially manufactured gels. Because of this, the gel takes a little getting used to when applying, and may take a time or two to know how much to use to get the result you want, which is also dependent on how thick of a gel you make. I’ve been using variations of this gel for several months now, and I really like it; it’s nourishing and doesn’t build up with repeated use, and it works for wavy, curly, or straight hair days. Along with the money I save and the extra additives I avoid, it’s another thing I’m happy to be making from my kitchen apothecaries.


Lavender Flax Seed Gel

(slightly adapted from Naturally Healthy Hair by Mary Beth Janssen)

6 tablespoons golden flax seeds
3 cups distilled water
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
1/2 to 1 teaspoon extra-virgin coconut oil
15 drops lavender essential oil (or other preferred essential oil)

Equipment:
large medium-fine strainer or sieve
large heat-proof bowl
immersion (handheld) or regular blender

(Important note: This recipe produces a thin, light hold gel. You can increase the amount of flax seeds for a thicker gel; if you do, increase the flaxseeds by a tablespoon or two at a time and test a half batch. Don’t boil the mixture too long or let the seeds cool too long before straining because the gel will thicken too much and will not separate from the seeds.

You can use a different essential oil if you prefer a different scent, but don’t leave it out; it acts as a preservative for the gel. Since an essential oil is a potent substance which contains many concentrated natural elements from plants, including hormones and vitamins, educate yourself first on the properties of the specific essential oil before using it, and be sure of the amount you can safely add to a topical product, if at all. That way you’ll get the benefits you’re looking for and will avoid skin irritation or other potentially more harmful side effects).

The day before: (optional)
Soak the flax seeds in the distilled water in a glass container the day before you make the gel. This encourages the seeds to release a little more of the gelatinous liquid when cooked.

The next day:
Mix flax seeds and water together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring often so the seeds don’t adhere to the bottom of the saucepan. As the mixture thickens, the seeds will become suspended in the liquid. Once the mixture reaches a steady, slow boil, set a timer for two minutes. Let the mixture boil for one minute, then remove the pan from the heat. Let the pan sit for the remaining minute.

Set the strainer over the heat-proof bowl. Pour the mixture into the strainer and let the gel run through into the bowl. Stir the seeds left in the strainer to help release more of the gel, and scrape any residual gel from the outside bottom of the strainer into the bowl. Remove the strainer, dump the seeds in the garbage, and rinse the strainer before the seeds cool. If you wait too long, the strainer will be very difficult to clean.

Add the coconut oil to the gel while it is warm and stir until melted. Let the mixture cool until it is lukewarm, then add the aloe vera gel and lavender essential oil. Using a handheld blender or a regular stand blender, blend the mixture on high for several seconds until it turns cloudy and the oils and liquids have emulsified together. Pour into a clean two-cup container, seal, and refrigerate for several hours to help the gel set. Use as needed. Keep refrigerated between uses. Shake well before each use. Gel should last up to two months if kept in the refrigerator between uses.

Makes about 2 cups gel

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