.For equipment you need:
at least one small pot
a pyrex measuring cup
a small digital scale
Jars to hold your salve. For small quantities you can use baby food jars or small canning jars for larger amounts.
You will need:
some comfrey, one or two leaves will be plenty
Olive or sunflower oil and
Vitamin E. (optional)
Essential oils (optional)
use that at half the rate for fresh.
Comfrey salve is always handy to have around a farm. It is great for healing the inevitable cuts and lacerations that happen, both on humans and non human residents. I always make a large batch in the fall as it does a great
job on healing the cracked hands that Gary gets during the winter. What used to be called chill blames. It is also great for healing burns and can be used for
sprains. Right now, I need to make more be cause I have used up my supply
treating a very nasty wound Gary has on his leg.
So, lets get started. A salve is an oil based medicinal ointment. As it has an oil base, it should not be used on burns until all beat has gone from the burn. To make salves you need to infuse the oil(s) with the herbs. This can be accomplished via hot oil infusions or cold oil infusions.
To make a cold infusion pack a jar with your fresh herbs, if you can chop them before adding, this releases the oils and the components you need from the plants. Fill the jar with oil, I prefer olive or sunflower but any non hydrogenated oil will work. Make sure the oil completely covers the plant material or you will get mold. Place the jar in a window where it will get direct sunlight for part of the day. Shake the jar for a few minutes daily. Leave the jar for 4-6 weeks. When it is done, srain the plant material through a cheese cloth. Wring the residue making sure to get all the oil you can from the plant material. You can also use a potato ricer to press the oil from the plant. Place the depleted plant material in the compost and put your infused oil in jars, label and store in the fridge. I keep my infused oils in this manner for a full year. When the herb becomes available fresh again I discard any oil I may have left and make new.
Today we are going to make a hot oil infusion and make our salve from that. To make a hot oil infusion you need to add heat to the plant oil mixture and hold it for two hours. If you are using fresh comfry use it at a rate of 1:2. One cup of chopped herb for every 2 cups of oil. If you are using dried herb use one half a cup for every 2 cups of oil.
Before you start weigh your pot on the scale, write it down, trust me. Mix the herb and oil in a small pot and place on a low heat. I have a good quality heavy bottom pot I use for working with herbs, if your pot is a thin bottom type
you may want to make a double boiler to heat your herbs. You must have the heat on a low setting, you do not want to bring the oil to smoking temperature. We need to heat the plant material so that it transfers the oils in the plant to
the oil, not deep fry the plant. Stir occasionally and keep on the heat for 2 or 3 hours.
room temperature. Strain the plant material from the oil by the same method
listed above. If you want to make all of you infused oil into a salve you can
place it back into the cleaned pot. If you only want to make some into a salve
now, measure the amount you need for salve and put in the pot. Place the
remainder in a jar and label. Store in the fridge. Are you beginning to see why
I hoard Mason jars?
If you have 100 grams of oil you need 20 grams of beeswax, 150 grams of oil, 30 grams of wax, you get the idea. When making creams, salves and soaps, always go by weight. Use recipes that deal with weight over those that use volume as measurement. It will always be more precise and over the long haul
you will have much better, and more consistent results.
Weigh the appropriate amount of beeswax, and add to the pot. Please use beeswax, not any other type of wax. You will not get good results.
Stir your mix frequently until the wax is melted. If you have thin shavings of
beeswax or the pelleted form it will melt faster than large chunks.
Once all of the wax has melted, remove the pot from the heat, if you want to add Vitamin E or essential oils now is the time. A couple of drops of vitamin E for every four fluid ounces with make a good natural preservative. Lavender and tea tree essential oils will lend their anti bacterial properties to this healing salve. a couple of drops per 8 fluid ounces is really all you need. Now you are ready to pour it into your containers. The mixture will be hot. This is why I use glass jars. Once you pour the salve into your jars let them sit out until they start to harden. Do not apply the covers until the salve has set up. You can put the jars in the fridge if you wish but it works just fine if you leave them out. Do be careful when you have small children and pets around. The salve is hot and will remain hot even if the top has set up.