In the beginning of the summer, I shared how we made a salve for poison ivy. That worked well, but we discovered one problem with it – since we used coconut oil as the base for it, it became liquid at the summer temps. Then when we put it in the fridge, it would be hard as a rock when we took it out. We managed with this, and the salve was great. But one day when it was in its liquified state, someone knocked the open container over and it all spilled out. And that was the end of that salve.
So I wanted to make another salve, but decided to improve upon what we did last time – namely to improve the consistency and make it less greasy. I decided to base this recipe on the ingredient list of the all purpose salve that I bought last year. Going along with the premise that the first ingredients listed are used more heavily, I weighted the herbs I included accordingly. The basic formula for a salve that I used is 3 T. herbs, 2 c. of oil, and 1 1/2 oz beeswax. (Note – in my opinion this isn’t enough beeswax.)
I chose the following herbs: comfrey – 1 part, plantain – 1 part, echinacea leaves -.5 part, yarrow – .5 part, and a few olive leaves thrown in for kicks. I made four times the recipe above. I simmered the herbs in oil for a couple of hours, then strained them out. That gives you herbal infused oil. Then you mix the beeswax into the infused oil. I used pastilles (tiny little beeswax balls) that I bought for this purpose.
(A little off topic, but I ended up buying a huge amount of beeswax – I was going to buy a pound but saw that after shipping, it was $15. And for $35 I was able to buy eight pounds including shipping from a different site – I had a frugal struggle with myself, trying to decide if it was better to spend less money or to get substantially more for my money – and now I have enough beeswax for the rest of my life. I think I’ll have to find a new hobby to use it up or my greatgrandchildren will be making herbal salves to take home with them when they visit me!)
The beeswax didn’t mix in well the first time I melted it – it melted but solidified in a layer on top of the oil. When the pot with all its ingredients were remelted, it mixed in nicely – I don’t know why it needed a second melting. After the mixture cools, you can decide if it’s the consistency you like. If it’s too loose, add some more wax; if it’s too thick, add some more oil. I wanted it a little firmer so I added about another 3/4 cup of pastilles (it was late and I didn’t feel like measuring it exactly), and remelted the whole batch another two times so it could be mixed in. At the end I also added the last little bit of an aromatherapy oil mix that I’ve had around for about ten years from my doula days.
This morning my ds16 put all of the salve into jars – we now have about eight cups of salve. (After he put it into the jars, he told me he thinks we should add a little more beeswax to make it firmer. I told him that suggestion would have been more useful before he put everything in jars! But it can be remelted and the wax added if I want to do that.) I ordered different sized tins to package this in, but they haven’t yet arrived, which is why it’s all been transferred to glass jars. I made a very large amount because I want to give this as gifts for Chanuka, but the basic recipe above will give you a nice amount. It’s the kind of salve that most people would find valuable to have around, and to buy a 4 oz can of a similar salve would be about $17. Using that as a baseline price, ds16 calculated the retail value for what we made to be $271! It was a fraction of that to make it ourselves.
We tried it out first thing today – our cat got a bad cut on his foot sometime during the early morning, deep enough to see the bone. So dd8 doctored him up (yes, my eight year old daughter does what I’m too squeamish to do :)). He licked off the first salve she applied, and kicked off the strip of cotton that she tried to tie it on with, but she applied another thick layer and he left it on. Even though he was clearly in pain, he seemed to appreciate her putting it on. This should significantly accelerate the healing.
This salve is good for all kinds of cuts, abrasions, bug bites, itching, and diaper rash. Good for kids, adults, or even pets. Very useful stuff!