Herbal salves are one of the easiest and most effective ways to use your garden herbs. Here’s what you’ll need:
— A selection of medicinal herbs (some of my favorites are St. John’s Wort and Lavender, Calendula, Rose, Chamomile, Blessed Thistle), do some research and choose what you think best suits your skin needs.
— An oil base. Extra virgin olive oil works best and is the easiest to come by. Jojoba and sunflower oil also work.
— A canning jar
— A large glass bowl and a sauce pan (you’ll be using these as a double boiler)
— Cheesecloth or muslin
— Tins or jars to hold your salve
Step 1: Collect your herbs fresh or dried. If they are fresh, you may want to let them wilt slightly before using them, if there is too much moisture, your oil might mildew.
Step 2: Place herbs in a clean canning jar and cover with your oil. You can fill to about an inch above the level of the herbs.
Step 3: Wait. You want your herbs and oil to cure for at least a month. Sometimes for maximum potency it’s best to wait two to three months. Every day (or as near as you can manage) you should shake the jar to disperse the herbs. About halfway through the curing process you can drain the oil, discard the herbs, and put a fresh batch of botanicals in to increase potency.
Step 4: To drain off the oil you need, I like to put a strip of cloth (cheesecloth or unbleached muslin works well) under the ring of the jar– after removing the lid of course. It will need some time to drain. One option is to prop the jar on top of a vase or glass upside down, allowing the oil to gradually collect below.
Step 5: When most of the oil has drained down, pour the remaining herbs out of the jar and into your cloth. You want to squeeze the herbs to wring any remaining oil from them. This is the messiest step of the process.
Step 6: Heat your oil in the glass portion of your makeshift double boiler. Metal bowls will not work as well for this.
Step 7: Add beeswax to the mix. For every 2 teaspoons of herb oil, you will add 1 of beeswax. Allow this to melt, stir to fully incorporate oil and wax.
Step 8: Use your pipette to fill tins and jars with your salve. Let cool.
Now you’ll have an all natural alternative to commercial lip balms and hand salves. These are great gifts and convenient to keep in your bag, especially in the winter when rough patches appear on your elbows and hands. You can always add drop of essential oil to the mix as well to enjoy the scent and medicinal benefits they offer.