Post Production Notes: I realized after looking day after day at my huge jar that 4 oz of dried herbs makes a lot of infused oil. Way more oil than the average person will need to make a couple jars of salve. Trust me, salve lasts a long time and 4 oz of herbs will produce probably more oil that you need.
If you are doing this for the first time I recommend starting with 1 oz. of dried herbs. Adding 6-8 oz of oil (as detailed in Step 1 below) should be sufficient. Then proceed with quantities of beeswax as directions indicate.
Last week I was rearranging my herb cupboard to make room for the new herbs I've been stocking up on to help treat any winter colds and flus. I hope to write about that someday but you know me, don't hold your breath. So anyway, I was sorting through jars, beeswax, essential oils and such and found my Miracle Herbal Rub Mix.
Years ago I bought a large packaged mix of arnica flowers, St. John's wort and cayenne pepper (aka: Miracle Herbal Rub Mix) from The Bulk Herb Store. I used it to make a Christmas gift - a muscle rub for my parent's who are runners and very active people. Such types always seem to have a sore muscle or two.
This mix of dried plants is good for aches and pains. The company doesn't sell this mix anymore but no fear because you can get some from me.
Even with preparing another batch for my own purposes (another Christmas gift or two) I still have a lot left and am offering it as a giveaway. So, here is what I'm giving away, a 4 oz package of mixed dried herbs along with beeswax so you can make a herbal salve.
Here's the cool part, what I'm giving away will be enough to make a couple jars of salve, one for you and one you can give as a handmade holiday present. A double whammy!
How to Make a Salve
Step 1: Prepare an Oil Infusion
Because I'm in no rush I'm using the cold infusion method, aka: jar on a sunny windowsill. If you're short for time you could use heat extraction instead.
In a large jar cover 4 oz dried herbs with 4.5 cups (approx. 36 oz.) of oil. I used a mix of canola, soybean and sunflower because that's what I had. However, many sources recommend using either extra virgin olive oil for heat extractions or grapeseed oil for cold oil infusions. Both are naturally resistant to oxidation (which makes oils rancid) and have a longer shelf life.
If you are starting with a different amount of herbs a good rule of thumb is to cover the herbs with at least an inch of oil. At first the dried plant matter will rise and float but after a day it will settle and you can see if you need to add more oil. If you start with about 4 oz. of dried herbs the measurements given above will work but you can always use math and eye-balling it to figure out oil amounts for a different quantity of herbs.
Hot Oil Extract:
According to Practical Herbalism: Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Powers fresh herbs are best extracted with heat and dried herbs with cold infusion. If you choose to use heat extraction Practical Herbalism says to do it this way: put herbs in pot (not aluminum), cover with oil, simmer & stir at a very low temp till herb matter is completely crisp. Can take 4 hrs or up to a full day.
On the other hand Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family says to do it this way: "Place the herbs and the oil in a double boiler and bring to a low simmer. Slowly heat for 30 to 60 minutes, checking frequently to be sure the oil is not overheating."
Step 2: Strain Oil
Whichever method you choose when the oil is done infusing you need to strain the oil out through cheesecloth or muslin. Wring it out really well to get every last good drop of oil. Compost the used herbs.
infused oil: after the process described above
Step 3: Add Beeswax & preservative (optional)
When making a salve (or ointment, it's the same thing) the general guideline, depending on the source, is to add 1/2 -1 part beeswax for 4 parts oil.
In a saucepan, add lesser amount of beeswax to oil and melt over low heat till all mixed. To check if the mixture is the right consistency (remember it will harden when it cools) Rosemary Gladstar's book suggests placing a "tablespoon of the mixture in the freezer for just a minute or two. If it's soft, add more beeswax; if too hard, add more oil."
I suggest starting with the lesser amount beeswax and add more if needed. When the consistency is right pour into sterilized containers. Which reminds me you should sterilize all your equipment to start with. You also might want to add a few drops of natural preservative to your salve. Vitamin E (easy to find) is good for that or Grapefruit Seed Extract (less easy to find) or Rosemary, Sage or Tea Tree essential oil. Essential oils are in themselves anti-microbial and will impart a nice scent and other skin friendly properties to your salve.
If this sounds complicated, don't fear. It's really easy.
- Make an oil extract.
- Strain the oil.
- Add beeswax and preservative (optional).
- Pour into jars.
The giveaway for the 4oz bag of mixed herbs and beeswax will end Sunday, November 22nd at midnight. To enter please leave a comment as simple as "hey I'd like that" or something more in depth like "I've always wanted to make salve, now I can" or something really informed like "you crazy lady, you don't make salve that way, now here is the way I make it..."
Related FIMBY Posts:
- How to make lotion ~ A photo tutorial
- Calendula, salves and an easy soap recipe
- Recommendations for the beginner herbalist
Post Script: This post is part of the Home Remedies Carnival at Keeper of the Home.