Sunday, August 23, 2009

Making Comfrey Salve

Remember when we made comfrey and rosemary oil? It has sat and steeped for about 2 weeks, and now that I've finally located beeswax, I can make it into a salve.


I've found a inexpensive little crock pot ($9.99) at Walmart to use strictly for salve making. It has 2 heat settings , and a removable liner (this saves my regular pots from terminal waxiness, nevertheless, some choose to use a double boiler instead).

First things first: pour the comfrey/rosemary oil through a strainer (either wire or cheesecloth will do - anything that will remove the plant material from the oil) into the crock pot. Let the pile of darkened plant matter drain for a bit.

While it's draining, let me show you what that elusive bar of beeswax looks like. I finally found it at an A.C. Moore Crafts, in the candle making section. We are using 100% beeswax (this bar costs $9.99, and will go a very long ways for salve making). To the left is a bottle of lemon essential oil. Any salve can have a scent added just by adding a drop or two to the oil mixture. Essential oils come in many fragrances, this one happens to be lemon. I never did get around to adding it to my salve (my asthma finds unscented to be agreeable).


Once the oil is drained into the crock pot, throw away the plant matter, and set the crock pot on high. Stay with it - do not wander off to eat bonbons or play with the cat.

Cut approximately a quarter of the bar of beeswax into tiny pieces such as the above, and add a little at a time to the hot oil, stirring as it melts.


While it melts, let's look at what sort of containers are appropriate for salve. When I made my first batch, I had beautiful deep green jars. They looked perfect when I was done but I discovered it was a better idea to use smaller, shallower jars for easier accessibility. This year I've settled on these pint and 1/2 pint wide mouth Ball mason jars. I use the pint jars for dried seasonings, and the 1/2 pints for salves.

Either size looks great when they're filled, and they stack perfectly too (this is an important factor with my shortage of counter space).


Finally, the oil is hot enough to have melted the beeswax. Now we need to monitor the consistency of the salve so it's not too hard, or too soft, but just right. I keep a milk carton cap handy for this very reason. Take a spoonful of the hot oil mix and fill the cap. Then set it in the freezer for a few minutes to harden.

Test it - if it's harder than you like your salves, add a little olive oil to the crock pot. If it's too soft, add a bit more beeswax.


When you have the right consistency for your tastes, fill your containers with the wax and oil mixture. Be careful, the oil is HOT, and the containers will be too for the next 15 minutes after filling. Notice I've filled several small metal tins - these are great for travel, or to stick in the car or my purse. (BTW - I found these at A.C. Moore's as well -for $1.49 each)


And here's the finished product - a soft, sage green salve filled with the healing properties of comfrey, and the antiseptic powers of rosemary.

Smaller jars can be found at yard sales or GW, and if you find the beeswax on sale, stock up - it keeps indefinitely. The other supplies are all non-consumable, and should last you for years. When I pack up my crockpot, I throw a spoon, the strainer, a knife for chipping up the beeswax, and extra labels in with it. Next year, I'm ready to go.

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