I finally got around to making up my healing salve. I had already made plantain salve a few months ago, for itchy bug bites. Although I was pleased with the results of my first salve, this time I did things a bit differently--I used olive oil instead of coconut oil, so that instead of "cooking" the herbs in oil on top of the stove, I could infuse the oil gradually, in a jar in a warm sunny window. (I suppose I still could have used coconut, but it is solid at room temperature so I wasn't sure if it would have worked as well.)
So I took a mason jar filled with chamomile (for soothing), calendula (for healing), and plantain (for healing, and to stop itch and pain), filled it up with olive oil, and let it sit for about a month, shaking it up every few days. Probably it isn't needed to let it sit so long, but I was in no hurry!
Also different this time was that I used dried herbs. When I made my plantain salve I used fresh herbs, but I have since learned that this isn't really a good idea because the moisture from the herbs can spoil the salve.
Today I took the oil and strained the solid material out. A cheesecloth lined strainer would be perfect for this, but as I was out of cheesecloth, I used a (clean) old scrap of flannel. This didn't work very well and I don't recommend it! The oil went throught the cloth very slowly, and it was difficult to squeeze the remaining dregs through the cloth.
I cut up some beeswax into small chunks--instructions always say to grate it but that's really hard work and I don't find it to be necessary!--and added it to the measuring cup of oil until it looked like I had added the right amount. Usually, it's good to use about 1 part beeswax to 4 parts oil.
Then I took the oil and placed it in a small saucepan. A double boiler is recommended, but I didn't bother this time. I heated the mixture over low heat, stirring often, until the beeswax was all melted. This took less than 10 minutes. I removed it from the heat, and added a healthy squirt of Vitamin E oil, since it is not only a preservative, but healing to skin.
Then I poured it into some little tins--which I ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs, and let it cool. It hardened within only a few minutes since my house is rather chilly today.
I have yet to try it out, but it looks lovely. My only complaint is that the scent of this salve is rather overpoweringly olive-y. Next time I make a salve, I will not use extra virgin olive oil, but will probably go back to coconut oil. I did like infusing the oil in a jar, instead of over heat, because I didn't have to worry about frying the herbs (not that I've ever done that, of course).
I enjoyed experimenting a bit with salves and tinctures this year. Do any of my readers make their own herbal creations? If you've blogged about it, please do comment with a link. I'd love to see what others have done this year with the herbs from their garden. :)