Friday, April 13, 2012

For Cuts and Butts

Those of you who remember my ketchup-making post, know that I am a big fan of do-it-herself projects, especially those that require inordinate outlays of time, money and sanity. I recently purchased a book that's been on my wish-list for quite a while, Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. When my book arrived, I read it cover to cover before I decided what to try making. I'm interested in herbalism; but, also slightly worried that I might accidentally kill us all, so I approach with caution.

I decided to try a recipe for baby salve for my first experiment. I had read a post about this on one of my favorite blogs and thought it sounded like a good introduction to herbalism for my family, much better than, oh, I don't know, a catnip enema.

The salve called for calendula, comfrey leaf, comfrey root and St. John's wort in very small amounts (1/2 ounce each). I had hoped to find these in the bulk section at the grocery store; but, no such luck. There are some great online sources for organic dried bulk herbs. They are relatively inexpensive; but, I wasn't able to purchase anything in very small amounts. It may not be common knowledge; but, eight ounces of comfrey leaf is ALOT of comfrey leaf. By the time I ordered all of my herbs, beeswax, metal tins and organic olive oil, this small project was getting a little pricey. In my defense, I have enough herbs to make about 75 gallons of baby salve.

With all my supplies finally in order, Aidan and I got down to work. First, we added our herbs to a clean, dry glass jar and covered them with olive oil. Next, we covered them tightly and set them in a warm sunny spot for two weeks to make a "solar infusion". There was an alternate stove-top method that took about two hours; but, I say, why do something in two hours when you can take two weeks?

After two weeks, we brought our "potion" inside and warmed it in a pan of water. Next, we strained the herbs out of the oil with cheesecloth, put the oil back in the pan of water and added our grated beeswax. When the beeswax melted, we mixed it around and poured it into our little collection of tins.

We've been using the salve for a diaper ointment for Annalise and also as a general first aide salve for little cuts and scrapes. Matt, who was the most skeptical of all, has been using it regularly on his cracked winter fingers and thinks it is really working! Now we're trying to decide what to make next...