Begin by heating the oil just to boiling (in a stainless steel or glass pan). Add the herbs of your choice and simmer, covered, for about 3 hours. Instead of heating it up on the stove, you can prepare this mixture in the oven if you like. Just keep the temperature low and the container covered. If part of your herbal recipe includes barks or roots, place these in the oil first and simmer them for the first 1 1/2 hours before adding additional flowers or leaves. If using fresh herbs, always leave the lid off the container for the first 30 minutes in order to allow the water to evaporate from the herbs.
After the mixture is ready, strain and add the beeswax. (You will need about 1 1/2 ounces of beeswax for each 2 cups of oil that you use.) Next, add 1/2 teaspoon of the tincture of benzoin for each 2 cups of oil used. Mix well. To test for consistency, put a small amount of the salve in a tablespoon and place in the refrigerator. If the salve is not thick enough, add a little more beeswax,then pour into labeled jars.
The salve will keep for 2 years. I place mine in small jars so that I have plenty to give family members and friends. These salves can also be used on your pets and animals.
Carefully consider each of the herbs found in the recipes and the reasons behind their selection. Then you will know whether you would want to use that particular herb in that particular recipe.
Calendula salve is easy to make, but it requires advance planning because you first need to infuse the calendula flowers in oil and let them steep for at least one week.
1⁄4 cup dried calendula flowers 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1⁄8 cup grated beeswax 40 drops lavender essential oil
To make the infused oil, put calendula flowers into a pint-size canning jar. Add the olive oil and stir well. Cover the jar with a lid and place the jar in a sunny window. When the oil turns a deep golden yellow (this generally takes one to two weeks), strain the oil through several layers of cheesecloth to remove the flowers.
To make calendula salve, combine the calendula oil with the grated beeswax in a small, heavy saucepan. Heat gently until the beeswax is melted. Add lavender essential oil. Pour the mixture into wide-mouth glass jars. Let the salve cool, and cover with a lid. When stored in a cool, dark place, calendula salve will stay fresh for approximately one year.