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All-Purpose Herbal Balm/Salve

March 20, 2014

If you're interested in making herbal balms or salves for your family to use, this is a basic how-to and recipe for an all-purpose balm.  A perfect one to start with. 

Although it may sound a bit overwhelming if you've never made a balm or salve before, it really is easy.  You can make enough oil to keep some on hand for future batches.  I began making this because I found that the cream I was using contains parabens.  I absolutely love Rescue Remedy cream - nothing works better.   

First, what's the difference between a balm and salve?  They are both very similar and are used interchangeably,  the difference typically being the addition of essential oils to balms and usually not to salves.

You can choose to pour the finished product into a tube or a tin.  Either will work, it just depends on your preference.

This balm should only be used for children over the age of 2 and adults because it contains St. John's Wort, an herb not safe for younger children.  I'll share the version for Little One's {for children under the age of 2} in the near future or you could leave it out.  Pregnant or nursing women should always consult their physician prior to using products with herbs and/or essential oils.

As with any herbal product, test on a small patch of skin first to ensure there's not a negative reaction.

A little about an herbal infused oil:
You can purchase oils that have already been infused with the herb from online sources such as Mountain Rose Herbs and, in many cases, your local health food store.  It will definitely be more expensive than making it yourself, but if you're looking at saving time, this is an option.

I use olive oil to infuse my herbs into.  Olive oil is moisturizing to your skin, is liquid at room temp., and easy to find.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil would be very olive-y smelling so if you have regular, I would use that.

About the herbs:
In making an herbal infusion, always use dried herbs or wilted herbs.  The reason is twofold: 
1.  you won't introduce water to the infusion, allowing it to last longer and
2.  you will get a stronger infusion.

You may be able to find the herbs in this balm in the bulk section of your local health food store.  The only one I wasn't able to find in our local store was plantain.  All of these herbs are used in teas as well, so that helps their availability.  If you haven't grown the herbs yourself, make sure they are food-safe and grown without pesticides.

Creating an herbal infusion oil:
I use the solar method of oil infusion - similar to making sun tea.  I fill a pint mason jar halfway with dried herbs.  Add enough olive oil to cover, filling the jar about 3/4 the way up.  Screw on the lid and leave in a sunny window, shaking lightly as often as I remember, for 4 weeks.  Strain the oil {tossing the herbs} and put the oil in a clean jar until ready to use.  I use cheesecloth in straining mine. **If, when your infusion is ready, there is any mold, moisture has been introduced and the infusion should not be used. **

If you want to make the balm/salve soon, you can use a heated version.  Heat the olive oil and dried herbs in a double boiler, allowing the water to simmer gently, 40-60 minutes.  Strain.  Cool.  Put the oil in a clean jar until ready to use.

Infused oils should last a year or more if stored in a dark, cool location and checked for moisture {check underneath the lid}.

All-Purpose Herbal Healing Balm/Salve
makes approx. 4 ounces

4 ounces {about 1/2 cup} herbal infused oil, infused with equal amounts of dried calendula, chamomile, comfrey, chickweed, plantain, and St. John's Wort
1 ounce beeswax {grated makes it easier to weigh and melt}
Essential Oils, optional - 10 drops Lavender E.O., 6 drops Rosemary E.O., 4 drops Tea Tree E.O.

Gently heat the oil and beeswax just until the beeswax is fully melted, either on a stovetop double boiler or in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each {don't use a container you use for food because the beeswax may not be completely removed}.  Cool the mixture to 110 degrees Fahrenheit and stir in the essential oils if using.  Pour into tubes or tins.

Use within a month or two {keep refrigerated to help prolong shelf-life}.

Other healing balms or salves:
Little One's All-Purpose Balm/Salve

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