Friday, December 16, 2011

Making Herbal Salves



I have begun to make many various herbal salves. We particularly like the purslane salve! (Read more about purslane in a previous post "Purslane".) That stuff is fantastic at removing the itch and sting of insect bites! We have been continually amazed this summer at how well it works. I got several big fly bites on my face that just went away in an hour or so after using purslane. These bites usually result in a swollen and black eye for days. (I'm allergic to them. I don't know what kind of flies these are but they always go for my eyes!)

I have stopped using mosquito spray and just opt to pick a purslane leaf, crush and rub on a bite as soon as it starts to itch. Sometimes I have a sit outside and rub purslane on several at one time, then forget about them completely. No more itch!! It really is a necessity out here where we live!

I just let the purslane grow where it wants to grow. It comes up all over the garden and makes a great ground cover to keep the real weeds and grass down. It's good cooked or raw and is less bitter in the afternoon. It's one of my favourite herbs, so I made purslane salve this year.

I also made a healing salve that has a long list of healing, antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal herbs. It contains yarrow, thyme, oregano, comfrey, lavender, calendula, heal-all, St. John's wart and mullein flowers.

Basically a salve is oil (I use olive) that has been infused with herbs and strained. It is then heated gently and wax added to make it more solid. That's it, in a nutshell. I also add vit E as a healing agent and a preservative, although most of the herbs in the healing salve can take care of themselves.

Thus far, I have used beeswax but will soon be switching to soy. Vegans don't like beeswax and with good cause. The downward spiral of the bees is alarming and some less healthy, productive focused beekkeepers have not helped. The continued use of the old style Langstroth hive is not helping, either. Top Bar Hives produce less honey because the bees rebuild the entire things from scratch after it is harvested, which takes time, but it also allows no room or time for moths to lay eggs or other parasites to set up house. While there is less honey produced with the top bar hive, there is a lot more wax! The use of old hives and recycling materials and equipment by unscrupulous beekkeepers also leads to more disease and parasites in the bee population.

At any rate, we are switching to all natural and organic soy wax for making salves. Soy wax is also less expensive but cost is not the only issue. Soy wax is quite a bit more protective than beeswax, remaining in place and keeping out moisture longer and it is a more easily renewable resource.

The salves that I am making now are in little plastic pots (see above picture). I might switch to the thin metal tins, if these don't work out, but those tins are so hard to open with they have salve and wax in them or you have slippery hands. They are also more expensive, a cost we would have to pass on to the buyer.

In the mean time, I am going to put some of these little plastic salve pots on my farm site for sale. Each one holds 8g of salve and I am going to charge $2.50 plus shipping, for them. The salve goes a very long way and will last a long time. Purslane salve only takes a tiny bit on the bite to work well.

If you are interested in buying them from me, just send me an email:
providenceacres at hotmail.com

6 comments:

The Japanese Redneck said...

Wow, that sounds like some good stuff you are making!

Ruth Trowbridge said...

You are very enterprising - sending admiration your way ;) - this summer read mosquitoes don't are attracted to the CO2 we exhale, so I started chewing mint leaves and to my surprise not one bite this year - peace

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Those look great. I'm interested in the purslane, what does it look like do you have any photos of the plant please?
Was also interested to hear a bit more about the top bar hives. I had heard a bit about them but not in detail, interesting about lots of wax. I hope to get bees at some point.

Providence Acres Farm said...

Thank you, Ramona!
That's interesting about the mint leaves, Ruth! I'm gong to try that this year.

You can read about purslane here:
http://providence-acres.blogspot.com/2011/07/purslane.html

Wills Kitchen said...

Hi Sheryl wife is interested in a jar of your salve. I tried the address but came back as invalid e mail address. Will

Providence Acres Farm said...

Hi Will! I have sent you an email!