Recipe: All-Purpose Skin Salve

 

Dried Calendula officinalis from my garden

 

Today is the day for making salve. In my previous post about plantain oil, I mentioned my plans for turning the oil into a salve with calendula. I am sure you have all been waiting with baited breath to see how that turned out!

First, a little bit about calendula. Calendula officinalis is what I like to call a bread-and-butter herb. It is an absolute staple in the natural first aid kit, due to its skin-healing properties. Among other things, the flowerheads and petals of the calendula plant are known to be antimicrobial and vulnerary, meaning wound-healing. (If you like, here is a study evaluating aqueous extracts of calendula and other herbs and their efficacy in treating psoriasis). This makes any ointment containing calendula ideal for:

-minor cuts/scrapes
-minor burns
-insect bites/stings
-bruises
-eczema
-psoriasis
-diaper rash
-chicken pox

The plant is also known as “pot marigold,” but is not actually a marigold, so we will stick to calling it calendula. My lame mnemonic device for remembering that name is “Calendula…a use for every day of the year!” Because it kind of sounds like “calendar.” I grew it in my garden this year with great success. You can purchase seeds or the dried flowerheads here. Anyway, back to the salve.

I’m going to call this salve “All-Purpose” because it really can be used effectively on any minor skin irritation. Of course, if you have a wound that covers a large area or is bleeding a lot, DO see a doctor. But otherwise, for those everyday “ouchies,” this salve is a must. It includes plantain oil and calendula oil. Plantain, you will remember, also contains wound-healing properties. The plantain oil was made using the solar method, while the calendula oil was made using the heat method (see how to do both methods here). Both are effective means of making an infused herbal oil; however, the heat method does require some attention so as not to “cook” the herbs. Without further ado, here is how to make my All-Purpose Skin Salve:

All-Purpose Skin Salve

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Weighing out an ounce of beeswax…looks a bit like sliced cheese

Ingredients

1 oz beeswax (purchase here)
4 oz calendula oil
4 oz plantain oil
10 drops essential oil (I used peppermint
but orange, lavender or rose would be
lovely)
Plastic/glass/tin containers

Directions

Measure out your beeswax. This will come in a solid bar or in pellets. If you have a solid bar of beeswax, it is easy enough to slice off what you need with a sharp knife and a cutting board. You could also try grating it-this is time consuming, but it will melt faster.

Prepare your containers: set them out with lids off for easy and quick pouring.  Place the 1 oz of beeswax, the 4 oz of calendula oil, and the 4 oz of plantain oil over a double boiler until the wax is fully melted. Add in your 10 drops of essential oil and stir. Quickly pour the mixture into your tins. TIP: Transfer the melted mixture into a Pyrex liquid measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring.

Label your containers and store them in a cool, dark place. This recipe makes a lot, so you’ll have plenty to give to family and friends. Also, make sure to stash one in your purse/diaper bag.

 

Voilà! An all-purpose, all-natural, non-toxic skin ointment. The finished product has a green tinge, likely from the plantain oil. Oh, and a special shout-out to my sister-in-law who had the idea to use individual paint pots for the salve. Such a bargain! You can purchase them here, if you want.

Have fun salve-ing, everyone! Here’s to happy skin!

 

 

 

It’s everywhere, so let’s make Plantain Oil

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That is a picture of Common Plantain that I snapped on a walk yesterday. Its Latin name is Plantago major. It is, like many useful herbs, considered an annoying weed, and it is EVERYWHERE lately. July must be the month for plantain in Colorado.

Incidentally, this plant has nothing to do with the plantain that looks like a banana and tastes yummy fried. The only thing the two have in common is the name, I’m afraid. You can eat this plant, but it is far more useful as a topical ointment.

Plantain is another plant that is great for novices, like myself, to collect, because it is easy to recognize and has no toxic imitators. The main give-away are those stalks that grow right out of the middle, even on the smallest specimens. Here is a botanical for a more scientific view:

PLAMAJ_

Anyway, since it is quite literally everywhere, I grabbed a bunch of it. I’m going to use scissors and snip it into smaller, bite-sized pieces (after rinsing the dirt off and patting it dry with paper towels), and then use the fresh herb to make a solar-infused oil. Here, I’ll write a formal recipe:

Plantago major Solar-Infused Oil

Ingredients:

1 pint-sized mason jar with lid

1 cup chopped, fresh common plantain leaves

1 pint extra virgin olive oil

1 window sill

1 crazy-hot summer in Colorado

Directions:

Put the cup of chopped, fresh plantain into the pint-sized mason jar. Fill to the brim with extra virgin olive oil. Label it with the contents, today’s date (the “in” date) and a date 4 weeks from now (the “out” date). Place it on the window sill for four weeks during the crazy-hot summer in Colorado, and the sun will do the work for you extracting the medicinal constituents from the plantain leaves. Shake it a few times a week for four weeks. At the end of four weeks, strain the oil through some cheese cloth and it is ready to use.

But what do  you use it for, you may ask? Well, the chlorogenic acid found in the leaves of P. major is a fantastic remedy for cuts, scrapes, insect bites, bee stings…all the bummers of summer, especially in little ones. (The Naturopathic Herbalist has a nice breakdown of all the medicinal properties of this plant, as well as its cousin, Plantago lanceolata.) In fact, you can simply mash up the leaves and put them on a bite/cut without the whole production of making an oil. But I want to make an oil because a) it is like alchemy and I feel wicked-cool doing it, and b) because I want to use the oil in a Calendula Salve I have plans for later this summer.

My oil is due to come out 8/9/16. When it is ready, I will try making the salve. Stay tuned!

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