How to make a Natural salve for Gardeners, and everyone else too!
how to make a simple hand balm
Every one who likes to garden knows that it can be hard on your hands...
Blisters and dry skin, cuts and scrapes. Your hands can really take a beating! Obviously there are many commercial cremes and lotions available, but if you're looking for an all natural, inexpensive hand salve you can easily make in your kitchen...
Here's one I highly recommend.
Calendula, an easy to grow medicinal plant.
It uses a well known and easily acquired flower... Calendula, aka 'Pot Marigold'. In my area of the world these flowers are very easy to find, and, if they haven't been sprayed with something toxic, they will be perfect.
A pretty, easy grow, easy care plant, Calendula is a nice addition to any flower bed. And has the added benefit of a powerful healing agent! It also repels cats... Making it a triple treat... Calendula adds beauty to your garden, keeps the neighbour's cat out and heals your 'gardeners hands'!
In fact it can be used for much more than hands. It's a great treatment for chapped lips... and on the other end of the scale, diaper rash! it's safe, and easy to use.
There is one caution...
It's not recommended for use on any open cuts or oozing wounds. But, you can use a 'tea' made from the flowers to wash a cut... the healing properties of the plant include an antiseptic.
Why not grow it?
So, for all those nicks, scrapes and rough patches on your hands from doing what you love, here's a simple recipe for an all natural aid.
First, grow Calendula. And if you can't... become familiar with the flower so you can identify it. You'll probably start to see it around the neighbourhood.
If you can't grow it or get some from your neighbour there's always the local herb or natural products outlet. Some have the dried flowers, for just this purpose.
If you're starting with fresh flowers you will need to dry them before going to the next step. I put them on a cookie sheet and place them on a shelf above the stove. Leaving them there until I can easily crumble them, then they're ready.
Use good quality oil
Get your hands on some quality olive oil and an appropriate jar. Quart sized 'Mason Jars' are great for this. Now simply stuff dry Calendula flowers into the jar until it's about three quarters full, and fill the jar with the oil.
Put on the lid and leave it alone for as long as you can stand to! I've heard some say six months minimum in a dark place and others say six weeks in the window of a sunny room. The theory being that the gentle warming of the sun will urge along the process of leeching the healing properties out of the flowers.
Personally I leave it until I need it. Usually over the winter. And I leave it in a cupboard, but if it's sunny, and I remember, I'll stick it in the window for an afternoon once in a while too. I think it's more about just letting it work for a while than a specific storage space. Just my opinion, of course.
Anyway, if you get in the habit of harvesting and jarring the flowers each Summer, and making the salve each Spring, you'll never run out...
Commercial Calendula Salves
A beautiful, helpful flower
The next step involves bees wax, and you will have to do a little research into where you can find it. I get it from a natural products outlet locally. Or you can always check out Amazon.
Strain your Calendula infused oil through a cheesecloth or fine strainer. The oil should be a rich golden color. Compost, or toss out the flowers and put the oil in a pot on the stove on a LOW heat. We're not cooking here, just warming. Add some bees wax to the pot... I can't tell you how much though, you have to experiment a little. But I can say start small.
The idea is to add enough bees wax so that when the mixture cools it will be a consistency that is easy to scoop out of the jar and rub on your hands... But it's a personal thing. You want the consistency you want... The bonus is that if you let your mixture cool and it's too soft to suit you, it can be re heated and more wax added. I usually reserve a little oil too, in case my mix is too stiff. You might make a note once you have a consistancy that works for you so you know how much wax to add next time.
All that's left is to pour your mix, while it's still a little warm and liquid, into storage jars. I'm lucky that my wife loves to bake bread because we always have some small yeast jars around. They are the perfect size, with a wide mouth for easy access, and the bonus here is they are dark brown, which will help the shelf life of your Calendula salve by keeping light out. The salve should last a long time if you take the precaution of storing it in a dark jar...
An easy way to make and enjoy an all natural, safe product, that helps heal those scrapes and nicks that are the result of enjoying your garden. But that's not all. Try it on a kids scraped knee, or elbow or a blister... any 'owie' will benefit from the healing properties of Calendula salve.