Friday, November 13, 2009

healing salve - and how to make one

I love making an annual batch of spring salve.

A herbalist trained by old women in Eastern Europe who learnt from their mama’s, who learnt from their mama’s, salvemaking is part of how i celebrate the seasons and the healing powers of plants.

Magic salve is wonderful as a night time regenerative moisteriser, on any sort of skin irritation (chickweed, plantain and calendula sooth upset skin), encourages fast and complete healing of ‘owies’ (comfrey and her allantoin at work), as a lip balm, to ease the callouses i have on my knees and feet from so much playing with jed on the floor and it works wonders on the occasional flare of excema.

It smells divine. Green magical goodness of the comfrey, calendula, chickweed and plantain peeks through the sweetness of bio beeswax, and lavender, rose, benzoin and pine essential oils add their aroma and healing powers. The benzoin acts as a natural preservative.

Store in glass jars away from direct sunlight or heat and the healing powers of summer are yours in a jar for a year or more. Certainly beats paying ridiculous prices for a tiny pot at the organics shop and you know exactly what’s in it and it is all the more effective when you pick the plants yourself.

Here's how to do it yourself. No precise measurements in sight, because thats how i learnt, and well, thats how i am. It’s easy! No pharmaceutical company in sight and your skin will thank you for it. Try trading friends for the plants you don't have in your garden or growing wild near you. Or to identify the plants if you aren't that way inclined. All the plants i have used are all fairly international and commonly found.



To make Anissa’s magic salve:
You need:


One litre of good quality olive oil
Three bars of beeswax
Freshly picked herbs – i use comfrey, plantain, chickweed and calendula flowers. Pack a large mixing bowl full as a guideline. Handpick each leaf/flower and check for bugs and disease. Pick early in the day before the oils have dissipated with the sun but after the dew is dried. You need them to be dry.
Essential oils (optional)
Glass or porcelain oven proof dish.
Stainless steel pot
Stainless steel spoon for stirring.
Time


Chop the plants into smaller pieces and put them in a oven proof dish. Pour olive oil over them until barely covered. Set in a very low temp oven for at least three hours and let sit overnight (or even a day or two) to make sure the qualities from the plants have transferred and are carried in the olive oil.


Sterilise your clean pots (wide mouthed ones) ready to receive your finished product.
Drain the olive oil into a stainless steel pot. Push the plant matter gently to expel all the oil but not hard enough to disintegrate it and sully the oil. You should have a lovely planty-green coloured oil. You can smell all the healing goodness in there! Sometimes i bottle some of this oil as massage oil.


Heat your healing oil at a very low heat. It’s important never to overheat the oil as this will destroy it and many of the healing qualities of the plants now held in the oil. Chop your beeswax into smaller pieces and stir in. Add it in separate batches and after each, test to see if the salve will set to the firmness you want by dropping tiny bits onto your cleaned and cooled (pop it in the fridge for a bit) oven proof dish. Test with your finger. Add more rather than less.


When you have your desired consistency, add a teaspoon of benzoin stir well and wait for your salve to cool down before you add 5-10 drops each of your essential oils. Then, pour your salve into your glass pots or jars, leaving the lids off until they cool completely. If they’re for gifts i like to use calendula petals to make a flower on the top of the salve.

Et voila!

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