It’s that time of year again…
When I go through my herbal hutch and take inventory of everything and make new and fresh preparations before fall/winter.
Right now, I have some glycerin tincture of muellien going that is about ready to be bottled, but the primary focus of today is plantain salve.
Here’s a step by step process and ingredients I chose.
- Coconut oil- virgin cold pressed
- Plantain leaf- I used globe leaf, but lance leaf is acceptable as well
- Bees wax- I used purified white wax pellets
- Essential oils- optional
First, you have to chop the leaves. The finer the chop, the more surface area is exposed, which means the more plant oils and properties are released. Then you have to infuse the oil with the plant parts. You can do this part by placing the chopped leaves in a jar sumberged in oil and placing it on a sunny window sill for about 6 weeks, being sure to shake it daily. Or, if you’re pressed for time, you can do it on the stove’s lowest heat setting, in a double boiler. You don’t want to boil the oil, simply infuse it. Think, tea, but with oil instead of water. Excessive heat can destroy the valuable plant components and nutrients and oils you’re trying to infuse.
I use coconut oil (you can use olive oil if you choose) because it solidifies under 75°F. This means I use less bees wax, which can be expensive (until I start harvesting my own.) It also means that any coloration in the oil comes directly from the plants and not from the oil. This is an easy way to tell when the oil is properly infused as the oil takes on a nice green color and the leaves become more brown. That’s how you know the oil is ready to be strained off the plant material.
To strain out the plant material, I place cheese cloth in a Pyrex measuring cup, and then pour the oil infusion into it, squeezing out the plant bits in the cheese cloth and discarding them. Then you’re left with the oil. Then I placed the glass measuring cup in a pot as a makeshift double boiler and I add the bees wax.
To test the consistency of the salve and guage whether or not I need to add more wax, I dip a spoon in the mixture and place it in the freezer to cool and harden. If it’s too soft or oily, I add more wax. I always start with more oil to wax and add about a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. I like mine about the same texture as lip balm.
When the salve mixture is ready, pour it carefully into prepared tins or jars for cooling and storage.
At this phase, you can add various other essential oils to enhance the healing properties of the salve. I made a jar of muscle ease with eucalyptus and peppermint and camphor oil, a jar of wound salve with tea tree and lavender, a jar of fennel salve for increased breast milk production, and then just one jar of regular plantain salve, which we use for everything from cuts, to eczema rashes.
Label your jars and allow the salve to solidify and then it’s ready to use or store!