Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gardener’s Moisturizing Salve

Working in the dirt is very drying.  I wear gloves when I garden, but that does not keep the dry effects away.  I always wash carefully when I come in the house and then put on a moisturizing salve or lotion.

I like to make one with herbs for use in the summer.  The first step is to make an infused oil to prepare the salve from. I gave instructions for that in a previous blog post in September 2012 (Making Infused Herbal Oils.)   For this salve I recommend making the infused oil with a savory herb like thyme, lemon grass or oregano for the earthy scent and the germ fighting abilities.  (Never forget that many germs exist in the soil.)

To make a simple salve, grate up some beeswax and add it to hot infused oil, stirring continuously until it melts. (About 1ounce beeswax to 8 fluid ounces of oil)
Test on the back of a wooden spoon to see whether it is of a suitable consistency.  That means stir the spoon down into the melted wax and oil, then draw it up and turn it over.  As the mixture cools it will harden.  See if this is the texture you want.  If it is rough and hard add more oil, if it is runny and slick add a bit more beeswax.  Sometimes the humidity of the day will affect the consistence so do not be afraid to make adjustments. If you are not confident to do the spoon test, an easier way of checking is to drop a very small amount of oil plus melted wax into cold water in a small bowl or mug. The salve will immediately cool and you can rub it between your fingers to check the desired thickness.

Once you are happy, pour the mixture into small jars and seal. The salve will thicken on cooling, usually from the bottom upwards if you pour into cold jars. It will usually be a paler color than the original oil.

To make a moisturizing salve use oils which have an affinity with the skin such as calendula and add violet leaf or marshmallow oil to add moisture. If you want the salve to have a strong scent, add 1-4 drops of your favorite essential oil per fluid oz of oil, but do not do this if the salve may be used by a young child.

You can experiment with adding honey or lanolin to your salve to give it extra softness.

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