SMALL-SCALE CRAFTSMANSHIP - Chapter 2
Wildcrafting arnica infused olive oil
Strengthen and soothe with a wildcrafted flowering herb from the pristine Montana mountains.
We love using arnica to soothe sore spots for our muscles, joints, and skin.
When our co-owner Karen Williams discovered this traditional plant growing wild, carpeting the steep mountain hillsides with gold, she immediately recognized the opportunity to wildcraft our own arnica infused olive oil.
Now the support we rely on comes directly from the land we love… and we’re able to share it with our Aromatics community.
What is arnica?
Arnica is a perennial herb, traditionally used for topical application after minor injuries and discomfort (Note: Arnica should only be applied over unbroken skin). It can summon the body’s resources to the area where it’s applied, encouraging your natural healing responses. Arnica offers strength to tender areas, such as uncomfortable muscles, joints, bumps, and bruises.
Aromatics’ wildcrafted arnica oil
Our land in Montana used to be owned by one of Karen Williams’ dear friends.
One day, while out hiking with her friend, Karen noticed a large patch of wild, brilliant yellow arnica blossoming over a sloped, subalpine hillside.
Her friend generously allowed Karen and the Aromatics Team to ethically harvest the arnica so we could craft our own arnica infused olive oil. When we were fortunate to buy the land several years later, we knew exactly where to find the “gold!”
Now our team comes together every harvest season—and everyone gets a chance to take part!
Folks who work in the warehouse come together with farmers who tend and harvest our plants, as well as members of the customer service team, packing, and shipping. Anyone who wants to participate in the joyful process of harvesting wild arnica comes along to pick flowers on a sunny, beautiful day!
In many cases, the same people who pack and ship your order are the ones who actually harvested the plants.
When the sun has dried the dew off the yellow flowers, we begin filling our baskets, hand-selecting the healthiest blossoms. To ensure we’re not depleting this rich resource, we only harvest one out of every five plants.
Once our baskets are full, we hike back down to our truck. It’s important that we park close to the harvest site, because the fresh arnica flowers have to be loaded directly into glass jars and covered with organic olive oil.
Six to eight months later, the arnica oil is ready!
What is an infusion?
Making an infusion is a traditional way of releasing a plant’s natural therapeutic properties—with just the natural warmth and light of the sun.
We begin crafting our arnica infused oil directly after harvesting the wild plants.
The flowers are immediately loaded into glass jars. Under the bright blue sky, surrounded by tall conifers rustling in the breeze, each jar is then filled with certified organic, extra virgin olive oil.
These jars will sit for six to eight months while the arnica flowers release their therapeutic components into the olive oil. We carefully expose them to an equal amount of sunlight and shade, and manually stir each jar as the fresh plant material releases water over time. Regularly opening the jars allows condensation to escape while stirring prevents mildew from setting in.
We used to set the jars of arnica infused olive oil in the sunshine on tables outside of our warehouse, but one day we realized that some of our jars were mysteriously empty.
After watching closely for a few days, we found the culprit: a bear was coming to visit, and picking out his favorite jars! He would skillfully unscrew the lid from a jar and drink down all of the olive oil inside!
While we were glad he loved our product, we couldn’t let him have more of it!
Now our arnica infused olive oil sits in sunny windows in our offices.
Benefits and uses of arnica infused olive oil
Apply arnica infused olive oil to areas that feel sore and tender. For example, arnica can be helpful after bumping your leg into a table or working a muscle too hard.
You can also add essential oils to arnica infused olive oil to make a therapeutic blend that supports you after a minor injury, offering strength and comfort as you heal.
Another way to use arnica infused olive oil in your blends is by making a salve. When combined with organic beeswax, arnica infused olive oil makes a rich, firm salve to keep around for massaging fingers and wrists (it’s great to keep at your desk!), or to release tension from tight muscles in your shoulder and neck.
Arnica infused olive oil recipes
Learn more about arnica infused olive oil
The hillsides where we wildcraft our arnica blossoms were once scorched by a raging wildfire.
The charred land was almost completely destroyed.
One of the first plants to repopulate the area was arnica, with its sunny yellow blossoms. Thanks to its root system that thrives just below the earth’s surface, only the tops of the arnica plants were destroyed in the fire. The roots were still there, waiting to send forth new life.
Arnica’s early reappearance on the scene is a beautiful metaphor for the way it can help us after distressing incidents.
Learn more and see pictures from after the fire here.