I am now going to share a recipe for a skin salve that is truly an amazing product. I have made this for years and given it to friends and family. In fact, I can tell it's been a while since I've made it when my friends 'considerately' return the containers, empty of course, subtly asking when I might be making more!
I am blessed to have a friend, Linda Bosse, who is a master gardner, master chef, nutritionist, herbalist and an all-around smarty pants. She was my inspiration to start making my own lotions and potions. Many years ago she gave me this recipe to be used for common, everyday skin problems like dryness, cracked cuticles or even diaper rash.
Now, I am not an expert on skin conditions, of course, and do not want to give anyone the idea that this salve heals all wounds. What I will say is it has ingredients that are known for their soothing and healing properties and, together, they make a powerful remedy for most ailments.
There are many times during the winter when my hands give up, cry uncle, and demand to be treated with more respect. I lather salve all over my hands and then put on surgical gloves (cotton gloves work well, also) leaving them on for an hour or two. Some of my friends who have a major problem with dryness wear them overnight and have had great results. It may take more than one night to get your hands where you want them.
It's also good on feet. Clean your feet thoroughly with warm water and soap; dry, lather on the salve and put on cotton socks. I recommend you wear them overnight for the best results. Like I mentioned with hands, repeat for several nights and I promise you will be very happy with the results.
On those occasions where I am preparing a lot of food for a dinner party or because I have out of town visitors, my hands pay a big price. I have started using the salve and wearing surgical gloves while I'm doing all the prepping. Between the soothing salve and the heat generated from using them, my hands end up looking like they've had a nice massage and moisture treatment.
The scent of this salve is heavenly. Men also like the smell since it's not 'flowery' and has a more 'earthy' aroma. Several of my male friends have a jar in their garages and workshops and love the way it keeps their hands from getting dry and cracked from all their projects including lawn, cars and woodwork.
I have several friends who suffer from eczema, especially during these cold, dry Arizona winters, and swear by this salve. Again, I am not Doctor Sher; all I can say is they love the salve and are very good about informing me they need a refill.
Diaper rash. No matter how diligent we are at trying to keep our babies' bottoms clean and dry, there are always those times when diaper rash appears. I had many times when my guys would get it while on antibiotics. Sometimes I would have to let them be diaperless, desperate to get them to heal. No medicine or ointment seemed to work when they were at their worst. If only I had this salve those many years ago!
All the ingredients promote healing and most act as anti-inflammatories.
The main carrier for this salve is extra virgin olive oil. This oil has the added advantage of providing strong antioxidants, like Vitamins A and E that help repair and renew skin that has been damaged from overexposure to sun, air pollution, and other modern-day environmental hazards like cigarette smoke and fast food. These antioxidants have the natural ability to stimulate cells and return skin to a firmer, smoother, and healthier state. Olive oil will penetrate deep into the skin and provide a long-lasting shield of moisture to keep skin smooth and supple.
The second main ingredient is bees wax. It provides slight anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities which can benefit the body. Beeswax contains natural moisturizers, locks in moisture and can help keep the skin firm and plump. In some cases, beeswax may be applied to minor burns or other skin damage in order to help the skin heal. According to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, beeswax can also be mixed with other products, such as honey and olive oil, to produce lotions and balms that can serve as natural treatments against eczema and psoriasis.
Here is a breakdown of the different herbs and their general contributions to this salve:
licorice root: Used topically it is good for infections and eczema; it also reduces oiliness in hair
comfrey root and leaves: Anti-inflammatory, well known ingredient for soothing skin ointments.
calendula: Also known as marigold, this is an anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agent. It soothes irritated tissue and is frequently recommended for radiation dermatitis, caused by radiation treatments.
chamomile: Anti-inflammatory known to treat infections and skin inflammations.
The essential oils added to this salve not only help it smell yummy, they also have good healing and soothing components:
lavender: Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory
frankincense: Anti-inflammatory and scent is known to alleviate anxiety and depression
I find most of these herbs and essential oils at my local health food store right here in downtown Apache Junction called 'The Good Apple.' They are an incredible source for these and other ingredients you may find yourself looking for. My next favorite source is www.mountainroseherbs.com, which is not only a terrific place to find pretty much any herb, spice or essential oil, it also has pages where you can be educated on aromatherapy and even containers for all your lotions and potions. They have terrific bulk prices and are very popular with a lot of aromatherapy people.
After reading all this, is it no wonder this salve is so popular? Please do not be deterred from trying to make this salve by the process. It is relatively easy but a little time consuming. The infusion period is a couple of hours which leaves you free to do other things while keeping an eye on it. I would recommend you use some of that time getting all your containers ready so once the salve is done, you can immediately fill them.
You can also reduce this recipe and make a small amount for your own personal use. But it still makes a terrific gift to friends and family. It's one of my favorite ideas for giving to a new mom. I combine it with massage oils and a book on how to massage your baby. Fun.
If you have any questions or need a little more guidance on this, feel free to visit my (NEW!) website: www.makeityourselfmom.com to see the video of this segment and the article. This is my brand, spanking new website that has quite a few of my past segments and other miscellaneous subjects that you might find interesting. It's in its beginning stages and over the next few weeks, I will be adding recipes, new videos and random musings on things I find and love and want to share. You can also contact me through the website if you need clarification on anything.
Containers: A good rule to follow when deciding on a container for your salve is that it not have an inverted lip. The salve can get stuck up in its crooks and crannies and it makes it difficult to get out. Another rule is the container not be much longer than your finger can reach. When getting to the bottom you may find yourself needing a spoon! You can use a variety of containers for your salve. I've put it in small jamming jars, seasoning jars, tins and even lip balm containers (see **notes below). I find most of the small jars (some of which are fancy-shmancy with gold lids!) or tins online at the site of www.sks-bottle.com. They have a terrific variety. To fill 45 1-ounce salve tins, you need to make a batch with 32 ounces of olive oil. These tins are perfect in a person's purse or pocket. I love this particular website. I went all over the Valley and on numerous websites until I found this one. SKS Bottle has good quality and very decent prices. You can find jars and bottles for less somewhere else, but you usually get something of less value. I do have to admit that another major reason I order most of my ingredients online is because of where I live and am 45 minutes from most stores. For people who use a lot of the salve on a daily basis (those with skin conditions and guys who work in the yard or are in their garage working with engines and wood) I put the salve in pint or 1/2 pint jars.
Bees Wax: I usually buy my beeswax pellets online on e-bay. I search 'organic beeswax pellets' and come up with all kinds of options. This has been the least expensive and time-saving method that I've found. You can find bees wax cheaper when in a block form but it's difficult to grate since it gets warm while you're grating it. I am all for saving money but I am just as interested in things being as easy as possible.
32 ounces olive oil
1/2 cup licorice root
1/2 cup comfrey root
1/2 cup calendula flower heads, packed
1/2 cup comfrey leaves
1/2 cup chamomile flowers
1 cup beeswax , pellets or grated from a block of beeswax *see notes
1/2 teaspoon palmarosa essential oil
1/2 teaspoon lavender essential oil
1/2 teaspoon frankincense essential oil
1/2 teaspoon chamomile essential oil
1. Put olive oil in large pot. Add licorice and comfrey roots and heat over real low temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Check the pot periodically to make sure it's not heating too much. This is a slow infusion instead of 'cooking.' You can also make a bouquet with these ingredients. Make one with the licorice and comfrey roots, then another with the remaining ingredients, except for the essential oils. Place first bouquet directly in the oil and periodically move it around during its heating time. After 45 minutes, add the second bouquet.
2. If using loose ingredients, add calendula, comfrey leaves and chamomile and cook over real low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Place a cheesecloth-lined colander over a large bowl. When it's finished infusing, pour oil through colander. With clean cloth or paper towel, wipe out pot to get rid of any particles that didn't get strained.
(If you are using bouquets, remove both from oil. You may want to strain the oil through a cheesecloth lined colander into a bowl to remove any large particles that escaped from the bouquet. But it's not necessary. Sometimes it's nice to have particles in the finished salve; gives it a more 'homemade' look).
4. Put oil back into pot. Return to stove and over very low heat add beeswax, stirring until completely melted.
5. Remove pan from heat and add essential oils directly to mixture. I ladle the salve into a measuring cup for pouring. Put salve in one container and let sit until completely solidified. This is a way to make sure you have enough bees wax in the salve (*see notes). The salve will solidify around the edges of the measuring cup so scrape the solids out of the cup and put them in the pot to melt again. If the salve is not warm enough and the bees wax doesn't melt, place back on low, low heat; stir until melted then turn off heat. You may have to do this several times. Again, be careful the salve doesn't heat up too much. Once your containers are filled, it doesn't take very much time for the salve to 'set,' usually only 10-15 minutes.
6. Label the containers with the ingredients. I find this important since there are ingredients that some people can be allergic to, especially calendula and chamomile, well-known allergins for those 'hayfever' people.
*notes The amount of beeswax you use may depend on what time of year it is. You will need less in the winter and more in the summer. The best way to test this is put some finished salve in one of your containers and wait until it's solid. Test the salve by taking some out with your finger and if you're satisfied with the consistency, continue filling the containers. You're looking for something that is completely solid but is easily scraped out with your finger. If it's too 'loose', add more bees wax to the salve and reheat (slowly!) until it's melted. If it seems too solid and is hard to scrap out of the container, add a little more olive oil to the finished salve and re-test again. Once you've reached the desired consistency, finish filling the containers.
**notes If you are filling lip balm containers, you will need to use more bees wax. The consistency of balm needs to be more solid or it can be a smeary mess. I take a small amount of the finished salve (about 1 cup and after the bees wax has been added), put it in a small sauce pan and add more bees wax, re-heating slowly until it's melted. I may add as much as another 3 TBS to that 1 cup of salve. You may have to add small amounts of bees wax and keep testing it in a lip balm container before you get the consistency you want. Make a note of how much you added so you have the measurement next time you make this for lip balm