I’m in the middle of the Vintage Remedies Advanced Herbalism course – er, okay I’m 1/4 way into it – on top of full time WAHM’ing, homeschooling, and generally surviving life with four kids. Did I mention I just had that #4? Life is hectic, and I’m sure yours isn’t much calmer. So when it came time to start in with the Herbal Preparations unit, I was excited but also clearing out my weekend to plan to make preparations. Thankfully, I’d just really overthought it.
Calendula anti-inflammation balm hit my radar first, because I have family members with RA and fibromyalgia, and I’ve also got the brood of kids and an athletic husband who always have bumps, scrapes, bruises, aches, and pains. The recipe was in the text, but Vintage Remedies also posted it on their Facebook page not long ago (“Like” them, you’ll love them in no time!). So I headed out to the Health Food Store for my herbs and a tin and, like I said, cleared my weekend. Here’s how it actually went down (check the recipe here to follow along):
1. Measure herbs and put them in jar. Preheat oven while doing this, and lay the baby in the bouncy because you think it’s going to be a big deal. A nice scale is a must if you are going to make a bunch of preparations down the line, but I just used my kitchen scale. A real one is still on my wish list. Baby looks at you adoringly while you put dried flower petals in measuring utensils and dump into jar. Pick baby up and snap a pic. It’s pretty.
Note: Make sure that the herbs you get are dried really well. Water will spoil your preparation. Buying them is best, if you have a trusted source with good, bright colored, fresh (but dried…you know what I mean) herbs.
Also note: The recipe calls for lavender and calendula. I used chamomile and calendula. Also anti-inflammatory, and not quite as strong-smelling, it’s a good substitution. Mine was half calendula and half chamomile. I also used olive oil, because it’s what I had, but coconut oil will probably be my go-to in the future. Figure out what you like!
2. Cover herbs with oil, turn off the oven, and set them inside. Then forget it for several hours. No, really forget it. Don’t obsess over it like me, count all wrong, pull it out an hour or two early, strain and put beeswax in it, freak out when you realize the time, then pull the wax out and put the herbs back in and try again. Nope. Just set it in the oven and forget about it for 4 or 5 hours. The herbs should be more fragrant now – not overpowering olive oil like when you first put it in. Then let it cool on the counter, covered, for another hour or two. You know, when you’re running around doing all the busy mom stuff you do.
Strain through a cheese cloth or organic muslin. This part was the only part that wasn’t so one-handed, because you want to get all of the good infused oil out. Throw the baby into a back carry or rock the bouncy with one foot while you squeeze it all out. It won’t take long, but it will be messy. Rub your olive or coconut oil hands on your legs, then…
3. Add beeswax. If you are using an oven proof dish of some sort, you can heat it on the stove. I was just using a canning jar (because of course it’s heat proof), so I turned the oven back on to 300, turned it off after pre heating, and stuck the jar back into the oven. Let it melt, then stir and let cool. You want to see if it’s the texture you are looking for. More beeswax = a firmer balm. More oil = a slippier salve. Make small changes. Once you’ve got it how you want it, let it melt one more time.
4. Add essential oil/s, stir quickly, and pour into container. Use a funnel if you need to, to keep it from going everywhere if you are pouring with one hand. I used a tin here, but quickly went and got some twist up tubes online, like deodorant tubes, so we can rub a stiffer balm onto owies.
And that’s seriously that. Lots of “pour, then wait.” This made right around 4oz, so I had planned to give it to my fibro and RA family members to see what they think. But then a strained muscled, bumped forehead, diaper rash, and cut all happened…And I have to say, I love my kids’ belief in me when I make things like this. “Will it work on THIS? How ’bout this? Mommy, make sure you rub it in! It won’t wash off, will it? I NEED it.” Maybe it has replaced kisses for the go to owie healing. That’s okay, I can whip up some more anytime.