I have been using a beeswax salve that I bought at a market years ago and finally I can see the bottom of the jar, so I thought I’d better figure out how to make some more. I use the salve mostly as lip balm, but its also good for any other dry skin, so I use a little bit nearly every day, even so, it seems to have lasted forever. Unfortunately as the label on the jar is now so worn it is unreadable, I don’t know exactly what the original ingredients were. I bought it from a honey stall, so I know it contained beeswax, and possibly honey, and it smells like lavender... there are plenty of recipes on the internet though.
My healing herbal salve
I have also been reading about herbs and using infused oils, so I decided to combine an infused oil with beeswax and essential oils to make myself a new salve. There are lots of beneficial herbs that can be infused in oil, but I didn’t have a huge amount to choose from in my own garden due to the ongoing drought at the time. In some ways that is a good thing, because I could never have decided which to use!
Here's my old salve, not much left...
From my garden I picked some comfrey leaf, borage leaf, yarrow leaf, and I used some calendula petals that I had dried earlier in the year. I was very surprised by the lack of chickweed in my garden, usually there is some growing, but I could only find a few plants to use (after the rain it is growing everywhere again). I would have loved to use plantain and chamomile, but I don’t have them growing (yet!). I picked the herbs, rinsed them and then let them wilt overnight before I put them in a jar and poured in enough olive oil to cover the herbs. If you don’t have beneficial herbs growing, you can buy dried herbs (in Australia try All Rare Herbs) and you should look at planting a few of them as well for future use.
The wilted herbs in the olive oil on day 1
After four weeks of infusing, I strained the herbs out of the oil and measured out how much oil I had made, so that I could work out how much beeswax to use following the ratio that Tanya suggested on her blog – 1g beeswax for every 10 mL of oil.
The herbs and oil after 6 weeks, nice and murky huh
I usually buy chunks of beeswax whenever I see it at markets, as its so useful. I also bought a beeswax and lavender leather polish from the same stall that the salve came from, and I use that on my leather boots. Its good for furniture polish too, but we don’t really have any nice furniture to polish :)
I had made about 100 mL of infused oil, so I added a little over 10 g of grated beeswax (I wanted to make sure it was solid). By the way, beeswax is not exactly easy to grate or to clean off the grater! I grated some extra while I was there, so I won’t have to do it again for a while. I heated the oil and beeswax in a small pot in a double-boiler. It took a several minutes of stirring for the beeswax to dissolve, and then suddenly the mixture was very runny, I thought it would never set. I took it off the heat to cool before I added a few of drops of lavender essential oil and a couple of vitamin E capsules for preservative (an antioxidant for the oil rather than an antimicrobial more here). As it cooled, it thickened very quickly and I had to put the pot back in the hot water to stir in the extra ingredients and pour the mixture into two little jars.
The strained infused olive oil and some lavender essential oil
Plenty of grated beeswax
melting the beeswax in the oil over a double boiler
Compared to my original salve, this one is very green (so the infusion must have worked) and has a different smell, I’m not sure which herb has contributed, but it is rather pungent! I was surprised by how easy it was to make quite a large amount, I expect these two jars of salve to last for ages. Actually that’s a little disappointing because I’d like to make more!