I started making salve a few years ago as holiday presents for my friends and family. They’ve told me that the salve has been the one thing that’s helped their dry winter skin, and they’ve used it on everything from their lips to their cheeks to all-over body balm.
Since my baby is due to arrive very soon, I wanted to make an all-purpose salve that would work for moisturizing and soothing both my skin and the babe’s, and wanted to come up with a recipe that would theoretically work on everything from my (soon-to-be) cracked nipples to his little bum. For that reason, I decided to forgo any scent (as in essential oil) in this recipe, to keep it as edible and natural as possible. (You can use essential oils; just make sure they are safe for baby.) So far, I’ve been using it on my rather gigantic belly, and already it’s helped to soothe itchiness and fade some yucky stretch marks that have been developing.
Calendula Rosemary Mama Salve
I adapted this recipe from a number that I have seen on the Internet, including this one. My recipe uses the Simpler’s Method, which uses parts instead of specific volumes. You can vary the herbs depending on your needs, but I’ve found that calendula and rosemary are a great combination. These two herbs have awesome antifungal, antiseptic, and vulnerary (wound healing) properties. If you’re lucky enough to live in a temperate climate like I am, hit up your backyard garden or friends’ homes for fresh calendula and rosemary. I only use the calendula flowers, though you can also use the roots as well. You can cut whole sprigs of rosemary, too, and use them.
You will need:
- Calendula flowers
- Rosemary sprigs
- Olive oil
- Vitamin E
- Aloe vera oil (optional)
- crock pot
- jars for the salve
How to do it:
Before you get started making the salve proper, you have to infuse the olive oil with the herbs. There are two ways to do this: the long way and the short way. The long way involves stashing an airtight bottle of olive oil with the herbs in it in a sunny window for a week or so. The short way is to simply put the herbs and olive oil in a crockpot on low for three hours. I’ve done both methods, but for baby-wrangling mamas, I recommend the latter, for time’s sake. In either case, you’ll want to thoroughly wash and dry the herbs to get rid of bugs, dirt, and other detritus. You also want to limit the amount of water on the herbs, since this can lead to mold (esp. if you are using the put-it-in-a-bottle method). I basically cover the herbs with olive oil, and then add an extra inch or so of olive oil for good measure.
After you’ve infused the olive oil with the herbs, strain the olive oil mixture into a bowl that’s been lined with cheesecloth. Give the herb-filled cheesecloth a good squeeze to wring out the last of the herby magic from the drenched plants.
Now, return your oil to the crockpot, still set on low, and slowly add your beeswax. The basic formula is 2 parts olive oil to 1 part beeswax, but I’d eyeball it either way, and slowly add the beeswax. You can either grate hunks of beeswax, or use beeswax chips. Only add a small amount at first, since it is hard to tell exactly how much beeswax you will need.
After your first round of beeswax has completely melted, test to see if it is the right consistency by placing a teaspoon full of salve on a jar lid, and then setting it in the fridge for a few minutes. If it is too soft, continue to add small amounts of beeswax, testing as you go, until you reach the desired consistency. Turn off the crockpot.
You can now add the Vitamin E oil and/or the Aloe Vera oil. Adding Vitamin E oil is a great idea, because it helps to preserve the salve for longer periods of time (plus it’s great for your skin).
Using a ladle, carefully fill your clean, dry (preferably glass) jars with the salve, and then cover them with the lids. I’ve found that this salve lasts well over a year, even after being opened. Store in a cool, dry place.