When it comes to many things, growing up my greatest teacher was my Grandmother. I can remember as things grew and bloomed in the garden, woods, fields, and even the lawn she was constantly picking and drying things. Carefully storing them in her saved brown glass jars. Back then the non-dairy creamer, Cremora came in brown glass jars with metal lids. These were always saved by her friends and given to her, she used them for storing her “dried plants” as she called them. She also used them to root clippings of her plants with a bit of tin foil folded over the top with a hole poked into it to hold the plants up out of the water.
One thing we did once a year was make “the salve”. This was a home made salve from plants picked around the yard. As I remember there was, Comfy, Purple Clover blossoms, and Plantin. I’m sure there were others in there as well but as it was committed to my child’s memory it has slipped away just as the exact way we went about making it.
I mentioned before a recipe from Cynthia over at Brambleberries in the rain posted this recipe and while there are others on the internet this one “spoke” to me like a familiar voice from the past you just can’t put a name to. I would also like to mention her photography is always a joy to look at.
Infused Oil #1:
¼ C. Comfy leaf dried and crushed
¼ C . Calendula flowers dried and crushed
¼ C. Jewelweed leaf and flowers dried and crushed
¼ C. Chamomile flowers dried and crushed
8 Oz. Sweet Almond Oil
I washed and sterilized a canning jar and the lid. I put the herbs in the jar then covered them with the Almond Oil and put on the cover. Shook well and put in the window for the afternoon sun and moonshine in the night. I distinctly remember moonshine and sunshine being an important ingredient when I was helping my Grandmother make hers. It also seems to me this used to sit in the window forever before my Grandmother did anything with it. In researching on the internet I have seen instructions to let this sit any where from 1-3 weeks in the sun. I choose 3 because that would be forever for me at 8 years old to wait. Cynthia also recommended 3 weeks.
About 1 cup of lavender bud and enough (expensive) Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cover the buds plus about an inch. Into the sun this went with my other jar.
While this was sitting I went on a hunt to find local bees wax. I took a trip to Alton to see the “Bee keeper” I was told about. Well… his wax was in very rough shape for my liking. It had bits of bees, honey and mold. Not that I couldn’t have melted the wax to let the bee parts settle to the bottom then let it cool and cut off that part once hard. It was not knowing how to get the honey out of it and the mold that was disturbing to me.
The man although very nice wasn’t very helpful in advice and kept telling me his wax was top quality and a very good price. I thought to myself yikes! A small chunk sitting in a plastic deli container was $12. I passed on the wax thanked the man for his time and came home empty handed. He has some jelly and canned pickles there but I couldn’t bring myself to buying any after seeing the wax. (A good note for anyone with a farm or craft stand, presentation IS IMPORTANT! :) )
Off to the internet to order my wax. I have ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs in the past and have always been pleased with their herbs. This time they were out of bees wax so I decided to try Oils By Nature. My order came in quickly and I really like that the bees wax is in little flakes, it will be easy and quick to melt.
I also during this time had a chance to chat with a friend of mine who is a licensed herbalist and quite popular around here I might add. I told her my plans and she said what I did is what she does, however she doesn’t exactly measure everything, her technique is more a handful of this and a bit of that. She said don’t worry it will be fine and I had choosen some great herbs for my salve, it would work great on my Granddaughter’s butt. She also said it would be good for many things like small scratches, rashes, minor burns, and dry itchy spots.
OK it’s now 3 weeks later and I’m ready to make my salve.
This is what I did:
I strained the contents of each jar through cloth. I didn’t have any cheesecloth so I unfolded several 4×4 gauze pads from my first –aid kit and layered them together. I used an elastic to hold the gauze and poured the herbs and oil in it and let it drain. When it stopped dripping I gathered it up and squeezed what I could out if it and the gauze and herbs went to the compost pile.
I washed and sterilized my equipment. For equipment I used:
A 4-cup glass measuring cup (I bought at a yard sale for a quarter)
A plastic spoon. (I used a plastic spoon so I wouldn’t have to clean it later, just tossed it away. I had visions of not being able to get things very clean as I thought the beeswax would be hard to remove. As it turns out it wasn’t very hard at all, but I bet if more wax were involved it would be.)
Several round tins & Plastic jars
I poured 1 cup of the #1 infused oil (The Calendula, Jewelweed, Comfy, Chamomile) into my glass measuring cup.
I poured 1 cup of my #2 infused oil (the lavender) into the glass measuring cup and zeroed it out on my scale.
I then added 2 ounces of bees wax
Then microwaved it on high for a total of 2 minutes, stopping to check and stir every 30 seconds. Great everything is melted and smells quite nice.
I put the measuring cup back on the scale and zeroed it out.
Next I added to this:
2 oz. Of vitamin E oil
2ml of Tea Tree Oil (My container has a glass dropper so I didn’t use the scale for this one.)
30 drops of Lavender EO. (the container has a dropper on the top.)
Next I will make some nice labels with the ingredients and the date I made it and add the label to the jars/tins. I don’t have labels so will use plain white paper, scissors and a glue stick.
A few of my thoughts:
I actually let the oil infuse 4 weeks plus a couple of days. I was waiting for my Niece to have time to come over, she helped me with the first part of this project and wanted to help finish it. She couldn’t get enough time off from work while my Granddaughter was at school, so I’ll have to let her know how I made it and be sure to include her in the next batch I make. Of course I will give her several tins.
This was not a project I wanted to try with a very active 2-year-old trying to help. As it turns out, it was a very easy project and feel she could help when she is just a bit older.
I used 2″ round shallow tins I ordered from Wholesale Supply. I wanted containers that would be used up quickly. I am going to be sticking my fingers in the jar while changing a baby bottom and had the “germ factor” in mind. I will store my new unused containers in the fridge. I had 3 small plastic jar containers that were given to me some time ago and decided to use those as well. I’m not a plastic fan and will probably leave those at preschool, I’m sure they will be lost there quite quickly.
I would suggest everyone try this. It was easy, and although the initial cost was a bit high I feel this is a great money saver. I do have enough bees wax, herbs and containers to last me a good long time.
I bought the Sweet Almond Oil from the grocery store and did see it on the Oils By Nature web site, the same thing at a much better price, so I ordered some to have for next time. I was already placing an order and paying shipping. The oil I bought from the grocery came in a glass jar and I’m going to reuse it to make some herbed vinegar. The container from Oils By Nature was plastic so I’m not sure if I can find another use for it, but I always can just recycle it, it’s #2 plastic and our town dump collects those. I suppose it’s in plastic for the shipping weight and breakable factors.
Another way to save money is to grow the herbs I can in my own garden, this time apart from the Jewell weed I purchased my herbs from the Natural Food Store in town. I’ll have to do some research on the herbs to see if they will grow here and where to get seeds. I know the Calendula and Chamomile grow as annuals here. Can you believe the Chamomile was $22 a pound! No, not a typo $22: I only bought a few ounces but geeeeeshhhhh how much does a packet of seed cost or a little starter plant from the greenhouse and what will those seeds yield at the end of the season? Maybe the Natural Food Store would like to buy some dried Chamomile from me?
I will try this recipe for a while and perhaps change the ingredients around a bit. I think once the store bought ointments in my first-aid kits are gone this is what will replace them.
This was a great project and got me thinking about many of the things I did when I was a child with my Grandmother and how I was taught to live a simple life even back then.