For the first time in years, I’ve contracted a nasty case of poison ivy on my arm. Ouch!
So nasty, in fact, that I found myself at the health food store purchasing some calendula cream in order to get some relief. I love calendula (calendula officinalis), the blossoms have long been used as an herbal treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne, burns, cold sores, sunburn, bee stings, bug bites, rashes and dry, itchy skin, when used topically.
While I was at the health food store, I wondered why I had put myself in the position of having to spend $12-15 for a small tube of cream when I can make my own so easily. Like so many things, I just got away from making herbal oils and salves. Life and lots of babies will do that to you.
I have lots of calendula growing in the garden, but none of it is ready for use just yet.
While I went along and purchased the cream, I also poked over to the bulk herb isle and picked up some comfrey and calendula. You can see how cheap it is, this was a big bag!
Making your own herb oils, which you can easily make into salves if you choose, is so easy, it’s ridiculous.
How to Make Herbal Oils and/or Salves
Extra virgin olive oil
A few Vitamin E capsules
Mason jar, clean and sterilized
Stainless steel cooking pot
Small pots or bottles with lids
Now you can do this a couple of different ways. You can “cook” it in the sun, this process will take 6 weeks. (I’m making comfrey oil as well, in case the picture confused you!)
I put my herbs in a mason jar, cramming in as much as I can.
Pour the oil over the herb, giving it time to seep through to the bottom. You may benefit from edging a small rubber spatula inside the jar to encourage the oil to move around. Leave an inch of headroom.
Then sit the jar in a sunny window or ledge. Wait three weeks.
Drain out the oil by pouring mixture through a cheesecloth over a bowl. Once all of the mixture is poured in the cloth, gather the corners and squeeze all of the oil out. Discard the herbs.
Place the oil back into a clean mason jar, put in new dried herb (the same kind) and do it all again….in the sun, three weeks. I mark the jar with the start date and end date, since I am not likely to remember.
Then drain through cheesecloth again and you’ve got a wonderful herb oil, ready to use! Some people prefer making this oil into a salve, but it is not necessary. You can store the oil in a cool, dark jar and cabinet.
The heat extracts the medicinal properties of the herb you are using. Personally, I enjoy the “sun method”. This is best done in the summer when the sun is at it’s hottest.
Here’s how to make the quick method of the salve, if you choose.
Quick Method for Herbal Salve
Place herb and enough olive oil to cover in a sauce pan, bring to medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Simmer 3-4 tbsp. of beeswax per cup of oil in a separate pan. Bring it to the same temperature as the oil/herb mixture.
Stir wax into oil/herb mixture.
Cool and drain oil through cheesecloth, discarding used herb.
Squeeze several Vitamin E capsules in the oil and mix.
Pour your mixture into dark colored containers with lids, let set up ~ enjoy!