A - Z of Home Remedies & Cures

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Salves, Herbal Salve

Salves, Herbal Salve

Salves are semi-solid ointments made with herbs, infused oils and beeswax. Herbal salves are used for a wide range of skin conditions: nappy rashes, diaper rashes, scrapes, burns, drawing out splinters and foreign objects from the skin, cuts, bites, rough skin, sunburn, bruises, bee stings, itches and soothing arthritic pain.

The salve can be spread on the infected area or used as massage oil. Once applied to the infected skin, the salve melts and the herbal medicinal benefits are quickly absorbed into the skin

The basic ingredients in Salves are: Herbs; Infused Oil; Yellow Beeswax; and 5-10 drops of a fragrant essential oil such as lavender, chamomile or tea tree. Salves can be made with one or more herbs, however, in the beginning, start with a single herb such as chamomile for rashes and sensitive skin. It is recommended you use dried herbs and grind them into a powder for best results.

Equipment required: glass jars with secure lids for storage, a strainer, cheesecloth, glass bowl, cooking pot, and double boiler or bain marie.*
To get started you need to make an oil infusion for the herbs.

  1. Pour one cup of vegetable oil (coconut, olive, apricot kernel or sunflower oil) into the cooking pot.
  2. Add the herbs and stir well to ensure all the herbs are covered with oil. Heat on the lowest setting for 1 - 2 hours. Do not boil and do not burn the oil. Keep this mixture at the same low temperature, uncovered, for longer if necessary.
  3. When the oil is infused with the herbs, strain the liquid into a glass bowl using the cheesecloth and strainer. Squeeze the herbs thoroughly in the cheesecloth to extract all the herbal infusion.
  4. Add the infused oil and one ounce of beeswax to the double boiler or bain marie and heat until the beeswax has completely melted.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.  To test the consistency of the salve take a half teaspoonful of the liquid and pop it into the freezer for a couple of minutes, then test the salve on your arm or the back of your hand. If it is smooth and easy to massage on the skin it is OK, otherwise, if it is too firm add a little more vegetable oil to thin it, or if it is too thin add a little more beeswax to thicken it. If you add anything to the salve, reheat and make sure everything has melted and is thoroughly mixed.
  6. If you are happy with the consistency, now add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance, stir well and pour the salve into storage jars with lids and label them with the ingredients, remedies and dates.
  7. Allow the salve to set and then store in a cool, dark place; if stored properly it should keep for at least two-years. Always ensure the lid is tightly replaced after each use.
  • A double boiler is two pots: a large one that looks a lot like a regular saucepan and a smaller, more shallow pan that nestles inside.
  • A bain-marie is also know as a double boiler or a heated water bath in which one container is placed inside the other to allow slow cooking or heating without direct contact with the heat source.

Always seek the advice of your doctor before taking herbal medications


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