If I had known, years ago, how easy it was to make this herbal salve, I could have saved hundreds of dollars spent on those fancy tins of Farmer’s Hand Salve. Nevermore!
Composed of only a few ingredients, this herbal salve can be tailored to suit your style, needs, and preferences. We made ours here with lavender, rosemary, and comfrey, but other herbs might be chosen for their scent (rose geranium, wild sage, bay) or their particular healing qualities. Comfrey, although it is not particularly scented, is known to relieve swelling and assist in healing of skin when used topically. Lavender is a calming scent, that also has beneficial healing properties for skin and psyche. Rosemary is known as a mood enhancer, which also stimulates circulation when massaged into the skin. Essential oils may also be added to intensify the effects as well as dried herbs.
Special thanks to Nadine Schaeffer of Birdsong Orchards for the gift of comfrey leaves, and for teaching me to make this salve in her kitchen, one bright gray day.
A note about ingredients; beeswax is a natural product, and as such varies significantly in moisture content, and therefore its hardness; the final texture of the finished salve depends largely on how hard the beeswax you use sets up. If you are concerned about how hard your salve will be, you can test the consistency before you fill your containers, by tucking a few spoons into the freezer before beginning the project. After the oil and beeswax has been combined, near the end of the process, pour a little of the salve onto a cooled spoon and put it back in the freezer for a couple of minutes, then remove it from the freezer and test the consistency of the salve. The texture will be close to that of the finished salve; if it seems too soft, add melted beeswax to the mixture in the pan, in half-ounce increments. If it seems too hard, add a bit more coconut oil, even if it is not infused with herbs.
This recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups of finished salve.
Grind, scissor, or chop the dried herbs in a food processor. Smaller pieces of dried herb create more surface area to release their properties; however, herbs ground to a fine powder will be pesky to strain from the finished salve. Aim for a finely chopped, but not powdered texture.
Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over low heat.
Add the chopped dried herbs to the oil.
Simmer the mixture over low heat for about 2 hours, making sure that it never boils. Stir every 10 or 15 minutes. Your kitchen will start to smell incredible, very soon, and the oil will begin to pick up color from the herbs. Comfrey makes a very green salve.
Clean out the pan, wiping the last bits of dried herbal material out with a paper towel.
Melt the beeswax in the clean pan over very low heat.
Rub it on, rub it in. This salve will keep at room temperature for several months.
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