A few weeks ago I began infusing oil with some of the plants growing here at Mucky Boots, as the first step in making a skin-healing salve. Today I decided the brew had been steeping for long enough and made the ointment. Here's what I did.
As you might remember, I began with about 2 cups of sweet almond oil (you can also use cold-pressed olive oil) and 1 ounce each of calendula petals, lavender flowers and comfrey leaves, all smushed together in a jar and set outside to gently warm in the sun. That lasted a day before Frankie decided it smelled promising and knocked it to the deck of the verandah. Kim was there in a flash, but not before half the oil had leaked out, leaving a messy (but quite nice smelling) oil stain on the wood planks. Rats. So I topped up the oil, capped the jar firmly, and set it on my seedling table behind the fence in the orchard, out of Frankie's reach.
Today, almost three weeks later, I strained out the vegetable matter, squeezing out as much of the oil as I could. Then I melted 4 ounces of beeswax in a double boiler on the stove (I used a bar of natural beeswax, rather than the white wax beads you can buy) and gently warmed the infused oil in another pan. When the beeswax was melted and the oil was about the same temperature, I gently poured the wax into the oil, whisking as I went, and then added an ounce of vegetable glycerin (to make the salve a bit creamier) and a few drops of lavender and rose geranium essential oil. Then I poured the mixture into the assortment of containers I had assembled and left them to cool and solidify. Easy as pie!
The resulting salve is rich and creamy, and feels very nice on my skin. I can't speak yet for its healing properties, but I've smoothed it into a couple of insect bites and a healing blister, and will see how it does.
I enjoyed doing this - it was easy to do, and I liked that it was such a gentle process: no mashing and bashing the plants, just a warm oil bath to coax them into releasing their scents and healing compounds. I like the end product: it's a gorgeous colour (like a cafe latte) and very silky in feel. I like the thought of making something good for me, instead of what I usually make (brownies, which aren't so good for me). And it has made me curious about the other non-food plants growing here, and what I might do with them. Most of the other herbs are already flowering, which means I have missed the optimal time for harvesting, but it's nice to think about what I might do next year.