October 5, 2011

Herbal Salve

Last week I made some herbal salve for the horses. The Escape Horse has some persistent sores on his belly - he likes to scratch them on the bushes when they itch - and Ella has a nasty bite on her shoulder from an argument with another horse. I was using a purchased product that someone had recommended, and it worked well, but I'd used it up and needed more.

Rather than spend the $10+ on another small jar, plus the gas to go two towns over to the farm store, I made herbal salve instead. It probably costs me just pennies to make the salve, since I bought the beeswax several years ago for another project and this is leftover, and the herbs/weeds are free, so the only cost is for several ounces of olive oil.

This time I added some aloe vera gel to it also, hoping that it will help to soothe the Escape Horse's itchiness. I do have an aloe vera plant but it's looking kind of peaked right now, so I bought a bottle of aloe vera gel from Mountain Rose Herbs when I began making my own shampoo.

I make infused oil when the "weeds" are in season, and store it in my refrigerator to use in soap- and salve-making.

Each year my infused oil is a little different. This year there was very little yarrow, so I did not pick any. The strength of the herbs will vary each year, also. This year the oil contains chickweed, plantain and some purchased dried comfrey.

To make, I used a ratio of one part beeswax to two parts of infused oil. I put both in a saucepan and heated slowly till the wax was melted, then stirred and let it cool a bit before adding some aloe vera gel. I poured it into a clean, dry, plastic jar. When cooled, I tested the consistency - it seemed a little stiff but I didn't change it, and in actuality it is about perfect. I can scrape it out on the back of my fingernail, apply to the horse's wound (or my own), and rub it in well.

If yours turns out too soft, reheat it and add a little more beeswax; if it's too stiff, add a little more oil when reheating. Again, pour it into the container and let it cool and harden, then test again. Only add a little each time, about a teaspoonful.

We use this on people as well as horses. I do keep two different jars of it though; the horses' jar tends to get dirt in it no matter how clean I try to be.

I used to think the plantain smelled very strong, but either I have a smaller percentage of plantain in it this year or I've gotten used to the smell. The color is so pretty, and soap made with the infused oil is also a pretty, green color.

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  1. That's beautiful. I love how you make things like this. :) I love to cook... and be self sufficient that way. Also to make soap... but haven't tried this before. And we keep bees, so we have wax... not always the perfect quality of purchased, because it's not been purified... but it's worth a try! Praise the Lord for His Goodness.
    Yours, Carra

  2. I hope you'll give it a try, Carra. After all, why not try? The worst that can happen is that it fails, but you'll never know till you try (and I don't know why it wouldn't be successful). Be sure to let me know how it turns out!


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