Guest Author - Amelia Tucker
There are as many ways to make a good herbal salve as there are herbalists. The first thing you should consider is what a salve is. A salve is a way to apply a concentrated amount of herbal essence to heal and protect the skin. You can create different end results by varying the types of herbs, oils and thickening agents(namely wax).
I like to think of herbal salves as soothing or drawing or protecting so I know in my mind's eye what qualities I am aiming for. For a baby's bum, I want a salve with a higher ratio of wax. This is referred to as a balm. The wax helps seal out moisture so combined with the healing of the herbs, the baby's bottom benefits from a protective layer of water resistance between changes.
Some herbs used for making a baby's salve would be calendula, chamomile and chickweed. You can start with an infused oil or create it yourself using a crock-pot. Here is how:
Combine the above dried herbs in a crock-pot on the lowest setting. Add enough oil to just cover and warm for the day without simmering-you are not trying to cook the herbs, just heating the oil to release the constituents from the plant material. You can also use the herbs fresh but that requires a bit about moisture and not leaving any in the oil so dry works very well.
After warming the herbs in the oil for a day, filter the herb parts out of the oil using a coffee filter. Compost the plant parts. The remaining oil is your herb-infused base.
Return the warm oil to the crock-pot on low. Add beeswax and stir until melted. Start with a small amount and test for consistency by putting a drop on a plate to cool. Remember that in warmer months, you need more wax to keep your salve harder in the heat. In the Winter, use less wax so that you can get the product out of the jar or tin to use it.
If you want to use a preservative, prick one 1000 mg capsule of Vitamin E per ounce. If you start with dry herbs, fresh oil and clean utensils, your salve should keep indefinitely even without Vit. E. I like to add it simply because Vit. E is so healing on its own.
Here is a good recipe for salve. I use this for everything from lips to baby's bottom with great results. Again, the amount of wax is dependent on how much oil you end up with.
Essential oils of lavender, geranium and sweet orange.
I create the infused oil and melt the beeswax into it.
Add up to 12 drops of EOs to a quart of olive oil.
This salve has been used in my family for over 10 years. Enjoy!