Friday, August 16, 2013

Herbal Salve/ Ointment/ Balm Tutorial PLUS Freebie!

My good friend Allyson has been making natural household products for a couple years and just launched a business selling natural body products - Etz Adin (literally meaning gentle tree). {More info and Freebie coupon code at the end.} I asked Allyson to share her basic technique with us.

Salves are a lot of fun to make.  There are endless combinations of ingredients and you end up with a really great product that heals and nourishes the body.  We love the Natural Healing Salve at our house and use it for just about everything including bug bites, cuts and scrapes, sunburn, eczema, and even diaper rash!

Today, I’m going to share with you the basics of making a salve.  Although it is possible to create a salve from beginning to end in one day, you really want to give it 4-6 weeks to become as rich and effective as possible.

Basic Salve Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup dried herbs of your choice
  • 8-12 ounces of carrier oil (olive, sunflower, safflower, almond, hemp, jojoba, or avocado)
  • 1-2 ounces Beeswax or Carnauba wax, by weight 
  • 10-20 drops essential oil (optional)
  • Vitamin E oil (optional)

  1. Place dried herbs and oil in glass jar.  Tightly seal and place in warm, sunny spot for 4-6 weeks.  Shake oil daily.
  2. Strain oil and discard herbs.
  3. Combine oil and wax in a double boiler and heat over low heat until wax is completely melted
  4. Remove from heat and add optional essential oils or vitamin E oil
  5. Pour into glass jars or tins
  6. Allow to cool completely, enjoy!
Extended Explanation

A salve is made up of three basic ingredients:

  • Herbs
  • Oil
  • Wax
And sometimes essential oils and natural preservatives are added at the end as well.

The first step to making a salve is creating an herbal oil infusion.  To do this you need to gather a glass jar and fill it about half way with the herbs of your choice.  Some commonly used herbs include calendula, chamomile, comfrey, echinacea, lavender, St. John’s Wort, goldenseal, myrrh, and plantain.  

For my favorite salve, Natural Healing Salve, I use a combination of dried comfrey and calendula.  Then pour high quality oil over it until everything is covered, plus a bit more.  I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil because it is readily available and adds its own nourishing and anti-microbial benefits to the salve.  You could also use sunflower, safflower, almond, hemp, jojoba, or avocado oils or a combination of those.  Cover the jar tightly and put in a sunny, warm spot for 4-6 weeks.  Every day you should shake the jar to keep the herbs moving through the oil. If you notice that the herbs have expanded higher than the oil line, add more oil. 

After 4-6 weeks when the oil has taken on the rich color and aroma of the herbs it is time to strain it.  I use a regular fine mesh strainer; you could also use cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or a nut bag. (Allyson told me that people who use a coffee filter let it strain overnight.) Get as much of the oil out of the herbs as possible.  This herbal oil will keep for a year in a glass container in a cool, dark place. 

Quick Method: If you don’t have time to wait for your herbal oil to infuse, you can use heat to make a quick infusion.  For this method you will place your herbs in a crock pot or double boiler and cover with oil.  Very gently heat the oil over low heat for an hour or more until the oil takes on the color and aroma of the herbs.  It is very important to keep the heat low so that you do not cook your herbs or break down the oil.  Once infused, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Strain as above. 

The next step to making your salve is to turn this rich herbal oil into a semi-solid salve which makes it easier to apply.  For this you will need 1-2 ounces of wax per 8 ounces of oil.  Beeswax is my favorite wax but you can also use carnauba wax for a vegan salve.  I use 2 ounces of beeswax for every 8 ounces of oil but you can adjust the amount to make it the consistency you desire.  It is best to weigh the wax with a food scale to ensure you are getting the correct amount.
For the Natural Healing Salve I also add coconut oil for its moisturizing and anti-bacterial properties. 

In a double boiler, place 8 ounces of oil and 2 ounces of beeswax.  For my Natural Healing Salve this means 4 ounces of herbal infused oil, 4 ounces of coconut oil, and 2 ounces of beeswax.  Gently warm over low heat until all of the wax has melted.  Remove from heat and add 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil if desired.  I like to add lavender essential oil for its anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and analgesic properties.  You could also add tea tree oil, other essential oils, or a few drops of vitamin E oil or grapefruit seed extract which act as natural preservatives to extend the shelf life of your salve. 

*When I asked Allyson about some other ingredients I know she's experimented with in the past, like honey, she said there are infinite additions to the basic recipe. Having tried many different recipes, it seems best to start with the basic ingredients until you have a good grasp on the technique.

Quickly, before the salve cools, pour the warm liquid into tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely.  After several hours to a day you can put the lid on your salve and it is ready to use!

Freebie! Gift with Purchase:

As a special offer for Cooking Outside the Box subscribers, Etz Adin is offering a free "Salve-To-Go" - their natural all-purpose healing salve in an easy to carry chap-stick style tube. 

To receive the gift
1. Subscribe to Cooking Outside the Box by Email, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
2. Order anything in the Etz Adin Etsy Shop and use coupon code nonrecipe when you check out.*

I love the Natural Healing Salve. I keep some in every room of the house and, even when I'm racing out of the house and packing ubber-light, I NEVER leave home without my Salve-To-Go. After comparing it to Neosporin for scrapes and several different anti-itch creams, "Allyson's Cream" always wins. And I love that I can let the kids handle it without worrying about them overdosing.

My absolute favorite product is the Lemongrass Deodorant. Something about the scent makes me feel awake and happy in the morning, and most importantly, it works well.

* The coupon code goes on the right-hand side of the shopping cart page right under payment options.
* Please write in your order notes or comment below to tell us where/how you subscribed or follow Cooking Outside the Box. Thanks!

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