Infused Oils & Salve Making

Salves are a simple, useful, and effective way to use herbs in your every day life. The combination of herbs, oils, and beeswax creates a soothing and nourishing blend specific to your needs. Although the salves are semi-solid at room temperature, they will soften once applied to the skin, making them convenient for travel and less messy than oils. Plus, they make excellent gifts or additions to your first aid kit!

Intentions –

Salves are a great way to preserve the medicinal properties of plants. First, you must decide what your intentions are in making a salve. For example, you may want to treat dry skin, minor wounds, insect bites, or sore muscles.

Herbs –

Comfrey – Comfrey is a particularly useful plant for making a healing salve. Comfrey contains allantoin, which encourages rapid cell regeneration. For this reason, your comfrey salve is going to help wounds heal quickly, as well as moisturize the skin and heal bruises. Be sure to clean the wound before applying! Comfrey is also great for sprains, strains, and broken bones.  **Note that comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which are known to cause liver disease and/or cancer when taken internally. Studies done on rats consuming large quantities have been done, however no tests on humans. Externally it is known to be safe. Caution includes: avoid broken skin if dirty, use for 10 days, don’t exceed 4-6 weeks in one calendar year. **

Calendula – Calendula has a strong affinity for the skin, healing wounds and relieving inflammation. This flower is also mildly antimicrobial and can protect the skin from radiation damage. Calendula is used for numerous rashes, especially diaper rashes, bug bites, burns, and scar tissue.

Plantain – Plantain makes for an excellent all purpose salve. This plant is great for soothing hot, red, inflamed conditions, such as burns, itchy rashes, bites, and stings.  Plantain also aids in stitching wounds together from minor cuts to postpartum tears. The leaves are antimicrobial and possess a drawing affect making them perfect for splinters and boils.

Lavender – Lavender has many actions making it wonderful for wounds, infections, minor burns, and bug bites. It can promote healing and is antiseptic and antimicrobial. The flower buds can also lift the mood and bring ease to a stressed-out mind. Lavender can promote sleep, sooth anxiety, and help with headaches. 

Rose –  Rose petals and leaves are a reliable astringent and can tighten and tone tissues. Astringents can be used on wounds to bring the tissues back together. Rose are wonderful in modulating inflammation, especially when there is pain. The scent of rose can also uplift the heart and improve both anxiety and stress.

Hops – Hops are considered a relaxing nervine and relieve nervous tension and decrease stress. Hops are also useful for people with difficulty sleeping by acting as a mild sedative. This flower can also clear damp heat from the skin, especially when there’s inflammation such as eczema and acne present.

Cayenne -Cayenne is used topically to relieve all sorts of pain. Capsaicin, a major constituent of cayenne, aids in blocking the sensation of pain. This plant has been used  for migraines, back aches, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and even shingles. Some other plant properties include: antimicrobial, anti-fungal, stimulant, analgesic (pain-relieving), styptic, and antioxidant.

Ginger – Ginger is a strong ally for various types of pain, especially relieving pain through its anti-inflammatory actions, blood-dispersing actions, and pain caused by coldness. Ginger also relieves cramping pain, such as that caused by diarrhea or menstruation. As an anti-inflammatory, ginger has been widely used in relieving arthritic pain and muscle pain after workouts.

Chickweed – inflamed skin conditions, redness, irritation, and itchiness as well as bites, stings, and scrapes.

Other herbs: St John’s- Wort , Arnica, Chickweed, Yarrow Leaf & Flower, Peppermint

Fresh vs. Dried

You can use either! If using dried herbs make sure they are high-quality. When using fresh herbs there is a chance of introducing water to the oil and therefore bacteria. When using fresh herbs, it’s best to dry wilt them for several hours or overnight to remove some of the moisture. St John’s-wort is one of the few herbs that must used fresh to get the full medicinal benefits from.

*If using powered herbs – use ½ the measured amount of powered to whole dried

Oil Infusions-

Decide whether you’ll be using your oil infusion topically or internally.  Rosemary or garlic infused olive oil would be delightful in a meal but not so much on the skin! Next, decide whether you want a strong medicinal oil or a sweet scented massage or bath oil.

Infusing oils allows us to extract fats and fat-soluble healing constituents as well as volatile oils from the plants. When choosing an oil it’s always best to choose organic and this is because plants store toxins in their fat cells. The type of oil depends on your intentions for the infused oil or the salve. These carrier oils can be used solely or combined with other oils to create a blend that suites your needs.

Chamomile Infused Oil

When choosing a carrier oil:

Purchase a high quality oil that is affordable

Opt for cold-pressed, pure, unrefined oils, or expeller pressed without additives

(Basically, oils that have been processed with minimal to no heat and therefore retain beneficial properties, richness, and strength)

Essential Oils –

Essential Oils are entirely different! Essential oils are when plant material is gathered in large quantities and placed in a distiller. Steam is pumped into the vat, gathering volatile oils and other constituents from the plant material, rises to the top, cools, condenses, and is then collected. The finished product is hydrosol (plant water) and oil. The oil is then skimmed off the top of the hydrosol and bottled up! E.O’s are highly concentrated.

Common Carrier Oils –

Olive oil – soothing, rich in oleic acid, omega-9, stable (won’t go rancid quickly), heavy, greasy/oily, strong olive scent, great option for those with nuts/seed allergies, skin and hair conditioner, considered a universal oil, food/cosmetic, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties

Sunflower oil – High in vitamins A, D, and E, deeply nourishes and conditions the skin, easily absorbed, dry and aging skin, restores natural skin oil, replenishes lost moisture

Coconut oil – anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antiviral, absorbs quickly, moisturizing, solid at room temperature, all skin types especially acne prone, unrefined coconut oil will have a coconut scent, protective layer to retain moisture, highly nutritious, fractionated coconut oil remains in the liquid state

Almond oil – moisturizing, nut allergy warning, light & smooth oil, absorbs easily and softens very well, improves skin tone and complexion, contains fatty acids and high in vitamins A & E

Apricot oil – moisturizing, gentle on skin, good for children or those will sensitive skin, rich in vitamin A and E, little to no oily residue, prematurely aged skin, clear-yellow in color, faintly sweet, absorbs easily making it good for massage oils

Grapeseed oil – absorbs quickly in skin, shorter shelf life, food/cosmetic, best for skin types that don’t absorb moisture well, blends well with other oils

Jojoba oil – closely mimics natural oils in your skin, often used for beauty products or massage oils, liquid plant wax and not an actual oil, moisturizing, absorbs quickly in skin, very shelf-stable, scalp cleanser

Other Oils: Avocado, Tamanu, Rose Hip Seed

How to make a Medicinal Oil

There are three methods in making a medicinal oil – a double-boiler method, a solar-infusion method, and alcohol blender method

Dry herbs – 1:5 to 1:8 ratio herbs to oil (recommended)

Fresh herbs – 1:2 to 1:4 ratio herbs to oil

Powdered herbs –  ½ the measured amount of powered to whole dried

Double-boil method

  1. Use a double boiler or crock pot rather than a standard saucepan, this will prevent your herbs from being deep fried. It’s best to keep the temperature between 95-110 degrees F
  2. Prepare herbs (chop if necessary) and place in the top of the double-boiler
  3. Cover the herbs with 1-2 inches of high-quality oil
  4. Bring the water to a simmer and watch for a few bubbles rising in the oil as it heats up
  5. Heat gently for 30 minutes to 8 hours, checking to make sure the oil isn’t overheating and water in your             double-boiler or crockpot
  6. Strain the herbs using a strainer and cheesecloth
  7. Discard herbs
  8. Bottle and label oil, store in a cool, dark, place up to 1 year

Solar-infused method

  1. Place prepared herbs in a widemouthed glass jar
  2. Cover the herbs completely with high-quality oil, leave at least a few inches of space for oil coverage
  3. Cover tightly or cover with cheesecloth if using fresh herbs to release moisture
  4. Place the jar in a warm, sunny spot, and allow mixture to steep for 2-6 weeks or you can also use your      car during the warmer months!
  5. Strain the herbs using a strainer and cheesecloth
  6. Discard herbs
  7. Bottle and label oil, store in a cool, dark, place for 1 year

*For a double strength infusion, add additional herbs to already strained infused oil and allow to steep for 2 more weeks

Pine Infused Olive Oil

Alcohol Blender Method

  1. Weigh out 1 oz of dried herb material
  2. Using a blender, coffee grinder, or bullet grind dried herbs into a course powder
  3. Transfer the herbs into a clean mason jar
  4. Next, add 1 T grain alcohol to the mason, cover, and shake to coat the herbs (should have a          consistency of damp soil)
  5. Allow mixture to sit, covered, for at least 24 hours
  6. Put damp herb material back in the blender
  7. Add 8 oz of oil (volume or weight) to blender with herb-alcohol mixture and combine for 5 minutes,        until mixture feels warm
  8. Using a cheesecloth or cloth, strain liquid. This may need to happen a few times to get the desired clarity
  9. Bottle and label oil, store in a cool, dark, place for 1 year

Salve Making

Once you have created a herbal oil, it’s now time to make a salve. As a general rule, add 1 part beeswax to 4 parts oil. This will vary depending on how hard or soft you would like your salve to be.

Ingredients

  • 1 T beeswax
  • 4-5 T herbal oil
  • Double-boiler
  • Drizzle spoon
  • Metal tin or other container
  • Labels

*Optional oils can be added – essential oils, rose hip seed oil, grapefruit seed extract, rosemary oil extract, or vitamin E

  1. Start out by gathering all the ingredients and assembling your double-boiler
  2. Heat the water in the double-boiler and keep at a low simmer
  3. Place the beeswax in the double-boiler and gently warm over low heat until melted
  4. Add the herbal oil(s) and stir until well mixed
  5. Now is a great time to do a consistency check! Place a small amount of salve on wax paper and let it sit    in the freezer for a minute or two. This will give you an idea of the firmness of your salve.
  6. Remove from heat, if using essential oils, rose hip seed oil, or other fragile oils, add them after the oil       and beeswax have been taken off the stove.
  7. Quickly (but carefully) pour warm mixture into prepared container(s) and allow to cool completely
  8. Label and store in a cool, dark place, where it will last several months to 1 year.
Salves waiting to cool

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