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Archive for the ‘healing salves’ Category

Earlier this year, a few of us folks, from the beekeeping club, and I decided it would be fun to get together monthly to explore herbal type things. Everyone invited just whoever else we thought might be interested and we have a nice little group now.We are just a little rural group of folks and our group isn’t anything formal of anything, but loads of fun. When we first started, we would each research an herb and at the meeting we would give a little talk about what we found out and give hand outs to each other. When the weather got nicer, we went for woods and fields walks identifying the wild medicinal and food plants in our area. With the nights coming so soon, we have moved back inside, and this meeting they asked me to demonstrate making salves. I have a new camera, and so my brother and I aren’t too good with it yet, but you will get the idea:) I chose to demonstrate how to make two different salves, one a pine salve and the other rose.

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At home I prefer to work with oils and herbs I have allowed to infuse in a sunny window for 6 weeks+,  but for the demonstration, I just put the rose buds in oil and let them gently infuse for awhile in one pot, on top of a canning ring, in another pot with some water in it. A homemade version of a double boiler. In the other double boiler arrangement, I started some collected pine sap in a bit of olive oil.

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After the pine pitch and the rose had infused awhile, I melted some beeswax, in the same fashion, and slowly incorporated it into the strained oils.

The next picture I am demonstrating how I tell whether I have enough or too little wax in the final product. I just take a dab out and put it on my glass cutting board, (a plate would work), and feel it. It is all a matter of personal preference actually. Some folks might prefer it softer, more like an ointment consistency, some firmer. Jill, in the red, was so cute taking notes and thinking I had a formula! I think I successfully demonstrated that one doesn’t have to have a certain precise recipe. The folk method I use has consistently made good, fragrant, useful salves:) It is no big deal if the salve is too thin or too thick, just a matter of using a bit more oil, or a bit more wax.

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Oils are nice and I frequently just use rose oil and others at home, but salves are nice and less messy for throwing in my purse or using with children:) I felt good to be able to share that working with herbal oils and salves is something any of us can do:)

We sure had a good time, and next month will be great. Steve is going to share with us how to process our horseradish! I will share with you afterwards:)

Love and hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages

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Pine Salve

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During the winter I harvested some pine pitch from the white pine tree (Pinus strobus) outside my bedroom window, and made salve of it. Some of this salve I sent to a friend of mine, in Scotland, David Gould. The salve is excellent for drawing splinters out of flesh, and as David is a woodworker, I thought he might have need of it some day. Not long ago David wrote me to let me know that he had a deep splinter in his leg that had been there about a year, and was constantly inflammed and sore. He started to use the salve nightly, and the inflammation was almost gone and that he would keep using it to see if the splinter might come out. Today my pine tree is glittery along its trunk with flowing sap, from the places on its trunk where we have cut limbs to keep them from damaging the roof or so we could walk under it. I decided to go harvest some more sap and make more salve as I am out and I don’t want David to run out.

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I use a knife to scrape and dig out the sap and in the process I get some bark and needles also. HPIM7346

I added some olive oil to the chunks of sap melting over the double boiler and used a toothpick to mix them all together good.

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I then strained it through a cheesecloth I had pre wetted with olive oil.

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In another pot I had melted down some beeswax. I incorporated the beeswax and the sap/olive oil together and put into containers.

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The antiseptic properties of  this salve is magical for pulling out the red of a recent cat scratch also and it is becoming the first thing I reach for to prevent infections and to clear infection from many types of wounds.

Through reading Gail Faith Edwards book Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, I have learned Pine flower essence is helpful for folks who tend to be hard on themselves, taking on guilt and having self blame. I have found rubbing the pine salve on my pulse points has the same effect of releasing guilt, by surrounding me with its soothing scent with my every heart beat.

Special affinity for pine shows a concern for future generations welfare. By learning, using and sharing pine’s gifts, I am able to teach and help myself, my family and my friends. Learning to use the gifts of our natural world keeps my carbon footprint down . I use pine salve instead of an antibiotic cream from the drugstore, thus cutting out all the carbon usage generated by the act of buying such things. It makes me feel enpowered to make natural remedies and comforted in knowing I am helping make this world better.

Pine is one of my herbal allies that I like to enjoy in many ways. The evergreen pine needles are high in vitamins A and C and make a delightful tea. When I have a sore throat or congestion chewing on the expectorant and antiseptic sap helps me clear congestion and my throat feel soothed.

For many others insights on pine I suggest Kristine Brown’s lovely Herbal Roots Zine, December’s issue . Where I first learned about making the pine salve!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages

 

 

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Hello everyone! The holiday times were just so busy i didn’t really have time to blog. Little grandson spent some time in the hospital, my old cat rumbley got sick, husband home on layoff, and older grands out of school… you get the idea:)

wanted to share with you a new herbal adventure i made this week. i finally had a day at home, no children and husband off doing things. i should have felt great right? strangely, i didn’t! i just felt rather at ends, out of sorts, uncentered and rather pissy about feeling that way! i remembered reading on one of kiva rose’s blog posts, about how she just loved her sage oil for those sort of times and i thought, ah ha, my sweet friend katee gifted me a bag of white sage, now is the time to do something with it!

so i got out the bag of sage, and started heating some olive oil up. added the sage and just let it steep for about an hour. in the pic you can see how dark the sage got the longer it steeped, the lighter pieces where the freshly added ones. i ended up adding some extra to the pot

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this picture is how light it looked before i added it to the oil.

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while it was infusing, i was amazed by the smell. very resinous, earthy and gradually i realized, i was starting to feel very grounded. like i was floating right back into my own skin! after it had infused i strained it out and had a very lovely, dark, dark amber colored oil, which smelled so different than anything i had smelled before! i rubbed some into my pulse points and wow, shortly, i was back, totally feeling normal, focused and eager to keep doing things. so the next step for me is always so second nature anymore when working with oils. whereas i adore oils, i am a bit of a klutz sometimes and find them kind of messy to deal with so i almost always make them into a salve. so added a bit of melted beeswax until i liked the consistency and now have my new grounding salve:) gorgeous color and unusual scent. it might take some getting used to for some folks. my husband came in and asked what the smell was declaring it smelled bitter and he didn’t like it. but funny thing, about an hour later he more gently asked, what was that you made. i could tell the scent was working on him also. thinking this salve will be like a rescue remedy for me and i can see its applications for the children when they are very restless, argumentative, etc.

here is a picture of the finished salve. which i intend to keep handily in my purse. another great thing about salves, not as likely to leak out!

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now i must include a link to the wonderful article kiva wrote about sage. she is such a wonderful writer and i suggest you check out her article on sage. there are many, many ways to enjoy and benefit from sage, this story about the salve is just one example, and i thought you all might enjoy it.

to celebrate the new year and to made amends for being absent for so long, i would like to offer one of these salves as a giveaway. just leave me a comment and i will draw a name next friday:)

herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages:)

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Washing beeswax

You are probably asking yourself, what in the world is she talking about! Well, let me tell you:) I posted about how I harvest honey in this post. In one of the last pictures I show you that there is a nice big bunch of wax left over from draining the honey. This wax is still quite tacky and sticky to the touch even after being allowed to sit for along time. I am always sooo busy with family that I actually let mine sit in the bucket for two months before I got back to it, and it still was! When the weather is good and the bees are flying, you can set this wax out for your bees and they will certainly go over it and do a good job of getting any residual honey off it they can! But if you still find it sticky or the weather is not such that the bees can help you clean it, you will need to wash it before using it for other things, like making salves. Trust me, I tried a small bit melted down, without washing it, and mixed in a bit of olive oil, as an experiment, and it just doesn’t work right! So… off to washing!

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Get a big bowl or pan out and put the wax in it then add warm, not hot, water to it and swish it all around. I next use one of my honey strainers, but you could use cheesecloth or other small weave strainer, and put that strainer over another container to drain.

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Now make sure and do not put either the first pans water nor this water down your drain! There will be enough of the wax in the water to slow your drains or even plug them!

You might have to do this wash/swish/drain procedure a couple of times to get your wax nice and clean but it is worth it because then you will have nice clean wax to start any of your future projects with!

My next step was to melt the wax. You will need to do this in a double boiler type of arrangement.

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That picture shows freshly washed wax in the upper pot and in the bottom pot I just put a canning ring in the bottom to raise the upper pot off the heat, and then put some water in the bottom pot. Simmer gently, making sure there is enough water in the bottom pot not to got dry (you might have to add some periodically) and watching that it doesn’t go dry, nor bubble high enough to get water into your melting wax.

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(Please overlook the dirty stove! Even when I clean it, I soon do some other thing that messes it right back up! You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly here!lol)

Even after washing the wax you might be surprised at the amount of debris that is still in it! The wax I did looked just gorgeous, but after it was melted, I strained it through cheesecloth and still got quite alot of debris from it! This is the set up I have. I just tie a string around a cheesecloth topped bowl to strain the melted wax.

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And this is a picture of the debris!

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Since I am just doing this for home use folks, I am sure there are other ways to do big batches. Since I like to leave my honey in the frame until I run out, I was just working with wax from 8 honey frames I had extracted. After it had been melted and strained I poured it into containers to set into blocks I could then use for making healing salves.

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I know the top of the cooling wax looks dark in the mold pans, but that changes as it cools!

So that is washing and melting wax!

Big herbal and honey blessings to all of you who visit Comfrey Cottages:)

 

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