Each month, we offer Wise Medicine Evenings at Portland Healing Space. On November 30th, PHS owner, Danielle Lombardi, taught guests about the healing properties of plants and oils and how to use them in salves. Students used solar infused Calendula oil made from vibrant dried organic calendula, that was infused for 6 weeks on Danielle's window sill, to make healing salves. Each salve was then customized with different essential oils for their individual healing properties: lavender, chamomile and peppermint for a soothing headache blend; blue tansy with clary sage, rose geranium and marjoram for menstrual cramps and pms. This class was so popular that we are happy to share instructions on how to make salves using Calendula infused oil as a base.
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, has been used around the world for its gentle healing properites for thousands of years. In Nepal and India, Calendula is revered as sacred flower, and has been used as an offering to deities, for ritual adornment, and for skincare. In ancient Egypt the flower was used for its healing and rejuvenating qualities. Its use has also been documented as a treatment for wound healing and to stop bleeding and infection during the American Civil War. It has been used in Western Herbalism for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It helps with wound healing, acne, rashes, eczema, chapped skin, bruises, swelling, and itchy skin. It is gentle enough for a baby, deeply soothing to sensitive skin, and a great treatment for diaper rash.
Ingredients and supplies that you will need:
- Dried calendula petals (or other herbs, such as comfrey for wound healing)
- Organic extra virgin olive oil
- Grated beeswax or beeswax pastilles
- 10-20 drops of essential oil
- Vitamin E oil
- Containers for salves and oils
- Double Boiler
- Chopstick for stirring
- Measuring cup
- Food processor or blender (optional)
- Small ladle or cup with spout for pouring
STEP 1: Infusing an herbal oil
The first step to making a salve is making the infused oil. There are several methods to this. My preference is the solar infusion method. It takes the longest time, but protects the integrity of the medicine. If you have a few weeks to spare this is the way to go.
Wise Medicine Evenings are led by PHS owner, acupuncturist and holistic pelvic care™ practitioner, Danielle Lombardi. Danielle is also a trained herbalist in Chinese medicine. In Chinese medicine, herbalism is one of the five branches of medicine. Danielle works with many Chinese herbal formulas in her practice, but also loves to forage in her local Pacific Northwest forests and harvest plants that she can process into medicine for her patients.
Take your dried calendula (or other herbs) and place in a glass jar. To allow for greater surface area exposure for a stronger medicine, you may pulse the herbs in a blender or food processor, or chop them finely before placing in the jar. Pour the olive oil over the herbs to cover by 1-2 inches. Cover the jar and store in a sunny place (a windowsill works well) for 3-6 weeks. Shake the jar every day, and when the oil has turned a beautiful golden hue (or a different color if you arent using calendual) and you are ready to harvest, get ready to strain! Take out the cheesecloth and strain into jars.
A faster way to infuse oil is to pulse the herbs with the oil in a blender or food processor, and then pour into glass jars with lids. Then place into a crockpot waterbath on low over night to let the oil gently infuse with the herbs.
STEP 2: Making Salve
- 8 oz infused oil
- 1 oz beeswax
- 10-15 drops Vitamin E Oil
- 10-40 drops essential oil (optional)
In a double boiler warm infused oil and beeswax together and stir until beeswax melts. To test and adjust the consistency of the salve, pour a bit of the warm mixture into a cold spoon and place it in the freezer for a minute or two. This will show you how hard the salve will set, and you can add more beeswax or oil to the mixture to make the salve softer or firmer. Once your desired texture has been achieved, remove salve from heat and add optional essential oils and vitamin E oil. (Vitamin E oil helps to prolong the shelf-life of the oil and salve). Pour into containers while oil is still warm and before it starts to set.
Herbal oils and salves are easy medicines to make at home, and can be used for the prevention and treatment of common aches and pains, cuts, scratches, stings, bruises, rashes, dry skin, and more. These oils and salves are great way to work with the healing properties of herbs. They can be used to make your own face and body care lotions and make great gifts to share with your friends and family.Have you made healing salves before? What are your favorite blends?