Last Thursday we had a salve making session at our Living Better With Less group.
I have a general instructional
There were however some other questions and answers that came out of the session that I thought would be helpful to list here.
Our recipe on the night was calendula, rose hip, plantain and chamomile infused oil.
- It's a good idea to make a diary note when making something like a salve or any kind of preserve because you can go back and reference quantities, date, personal notes on effectiveness of infusion and ingredient preferences.
- You can use fresh or dried herbs and plant material. If using fresh make sure they are free from dew or moisture before placing in the oil to avoid your batch going mouldy.
- We advised researching the efficacies of plants before using them and making your salve with conscious intent. For instance; comfrey is an amazing fast healer BUT you don't want to use it in cases of open wounds as it can heal SO quickly that it may heal infection within the wound and even may hamper the edges of a wound from effectively building a knitted skin repair by healing the edges rather than a knitted closed wound. It can also be liver toxic in large quantities and is not recommended for small children so we would not recommend it in a nappy cream for instance. By all means though, a comfrey salve for strained gardeners' backs or sprained ankles is marvellous and particularly helpful on broken bones. So choose your purpose and then pick your plants to tailor make your salve to suit. For another example; you could add essential oils of eucalyptus, cedar, mint for a vaporising chest rub for colds and congestion.
- A word on essential oils - go easy! Just because something is natural doesn't make it safe for everyone, for instance lavender is one of the most common sensitivities. The commercial world has convinced us that everything has to "smell nice" but not everything has to be perfumed. Give your nose a break. When you ditch a lot of the chemicals and scented products from your life you will find your nose has re-adjusted and become sensitive to nuances again. Only add essential oils for a specific purpose that meets your intent.
- Rosehips contain very fine fibrous irritating "hairs". They can be infused whole but I believe it is more effective to chop them. By hand this is a laborious job and I suggest a closed lidded food processor. Adding oil will also keep fibres contained so they don't become airborne.
- The beeswax will dissolve evenly and quickly into the oil at a low temperature if it is grated. You can source small pelleted beeswax from craft suppliers but I prefer to buy from local honey makers so it is usually in a chunk or a bar and needs to be grated. This is a bit laborious too and I've made just about all the mistakes for you. If you try chopping/grating in a food processor, the spinning blades create enough heat to melt the wax slightly so after a couple of seconds you have a small amount grated and a quantity stuck to the blades stopping them from any further cutting/grating. You could use your microplane but it will blunt the blades quite quickly. I find a grater used for cheese, carrots etc is the best method. Another in the group said she melts her beeswax and pours it into the oil which you would also need to have warmed so the two will mix and blend. Six of one and half a dozen as far as washing up mess goes so I may try the melt and mix method next time as I do make in a quantities that require grating 100g plus.
- Here in the north of Tasmania you can source your beeswax from The Honey Farm in Chudleigh or The Tasmanian Honey Co in Perth (Tas)
- Speaking of washing up. A good rubber/silicon spatula will ensure you get the sides of pots etc really scraped down cleanly and then I advise wiping out the warm pot with a piece of paper towel to remove extra residue before washing up.
If you think of other questions let me know and I will edit and add. If you have anything other experiences you would like to share please add them in the comments below. Please also feel free to add a url in your comment if you would like to direct people to a relevant post you have made about slave making as shared experiences are learned experiences. (Note; any advertising and non-relevant material will be deleted)
As always, none of my posts are intended as medical advice but merely a description of what we discussed and did. If you have any medical concerns you should always defer to your naturopath or doctor for their advice.