Applying Kajal / Kohl (‘kanmashi’ in Malayalam) helps to keep babies’ eyes cool in a hot, humid, tropical country like India. When it comes to babies, it is best if we can prepare the Kohl ourselves, to ensure that it is gentle in their young, delicate eyes. Refrain from using herbs and strong oils in the kajal. Make sure you apply the kajal in your baby’s eyes only after they turn three months old.
- A piece of pure cotton cloth, approximately 6 cm wide and 10 cm long
- A diya or vilakku
- Pure ghee – approximately 100 ml
Method of preparation
- Wash the cloth piece using only pure water to remove any residual detergent and other impurities present. Dry in sunlight.
- Once the cloth is dry, roll it up tightly between the palms of your both hands into a wick (‘thiri’ in Malayalam)
- Pour ghee into the lamp (‘vilakku’ in Malayalam)
- Immerse the cloth wick in ghee and ensure that it is wholly soaked.
- Squeeze one end of the wick to drain ghee from that part, and keep that portion above the ghee level in the lamp. This is to ensure that it can be easily lit by fire.
- Light the lamp. Keep the lamp in a place where there is no air disturbance (for example, from a fan or from an open window). The flame of the lamp should be big and bright.
- Partially cover the flame with a brass vessel (‘ottu uruli’ in Malayalam) so that the smoke escaping towards the ceiling is caught in the vessel. Make sure there is enough space for air to come in and help burn the lamp. You should never cover the lamp completely.
- As the wick gets burned out, keep moving it above the ghee level so that it can burn without hindrance.
- Once it gets completely burned out and the flame is exhausted, let the collector brass vessel cool down to room temperature.
- Now if you look at the inside of the brass vessel, you will see a coating of soot there. Scrap this off with a metal spoon / blunt knife. Make sure that all the vessels you use in the process are thoroughly washed and free of any left over spices from curries cooked in them. It is best if you can use new utensils or keep aside some specifically for this purpose.
- Collect the soot in a container and slowly add ghee till you get the desired consistency for your kajal. Add the ghee only drop by drop to prevent excessive addition. Loosely blended Kohl will not stay long in the eyes; it will get smudged easily and spread all over the face. If you add too little oil, the kajal will be very dry and difficult to apply.
This kajal will stay good for upto six months or more depending on the usage conditions. Don’t expect this to last much longer, as we are not adding any preservative to this. Since this is for babies who won’t be able to complain even if the kajal irritates their eyes, it is better to use this only for three months and prepare a new batch after that. It’ll never go waste, you can make your eyes beautiful with the leftover kajal!