Herbal Gifts

December 7, 2014 lawanda Newspaper Columns

Herbal Gifts

 

Herbs from your garden can form the basis for a healing salve, lip balm, soothing hand cream or solid perfume.  All have the same three ingredients:  an herb-infused oil, beeswax and vitamin E oil.  Varying the amount of infused oil and beeswax is what changes the outcome.

The first step is to infuse an oil with herbs.  Jojoba oil, which is quite expensive, works best, but olive oil is a fine substitute.  Herbs should be dried before infusing.  It is a simple process.  Place 2 oz. of dried herbs in a slow cooker or crock pot and cover completely with oil.  Use a long-handled spoon to crush the herbs slightly and push them down so they don’t float atop the oil.  Place over low heat for six hours.  Let cool for a few hours, then strain the oil through a metal strainer or cheesecloth and discard the herbs.

Almost any herb can be infused.  Comfrey leaves and calendula flowers are commonly used for a healing salve.  Lemon verbena, lemon balm, peppermint or chocolate mint make refreshing lip balm.  Lavender is wonderful in hand cream or solid perfume.  Other herbs to try are chamomile flowers, catnip leaves, juniper or other evergreen needles, plantain leaf, dandelion root, rosemary, sage, rose petals, thyme and lemon thyme.      If you don’t find the herbs you want in your own garden, almost any herb can be purchased in bulk via the internet.  Look for certified organic herbs to avoid contamination from pesticides.

You can even infuse oil with spices from your kitchen spice rack.  Whole cinnamon, clove, anise, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and vanilla beans are some you can try.  Cayenne pepper can be used to make a salve for aching joints.

After the oil is infused, heat it along with the beeswax in a double boiler, or in a glass measuring cup set in a pan of boiling water, until the beeswax melts.  Remove from heat and add the contents of a vitamin E capsule by poking the capsule with a pin and squeezing out the contents.  Mixing in a few drops of essential oil to match or complement the herb-infused oil makes your product even more aromatic. Stir gently and pour into clean metal or glass containers to cool and harden.

For salve, use 1 oz. beeswax and 2-8 oz. of oil, depending on how hard or soft you’d like the result.  Perhaps start with 4 oz. and adjust.   A hand cream would be on the softer end of the salve spectrum.  For lip balm and solid perfume, use 1 oz. beeswax and 2 oz. oil.  If you are unsatisfied with the product’s consistency after it is cooled and hardened, you can adjust by reheating it and adding more oil if you’d like it softer or beeswax if you’d prefer it harder.

Package the containers prettily for holiday gifts or treat yourself.

HerbsMiscellaneous


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