Ask Flora - Homemade Balms
February 2013 newsletter
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
February 6, 2013
OK, I admit it, I have the biggest jar of petroleum jelly on the planet to slather on my face and lips at this time of year. It feels great when I'm applying it, but a minute later my lips are dry. I have gotten your questions about making your own lotions and potions and will share them below. The basic ingredient, beeswax, is therapeutic, natural and lasts!!
One of my 2013 resolutions is to get involved with the local Garden Club. Can you give me some information on how to do this?
Signed, Lily Lavender
We would love to have you at our next Sage & Snow Garden Club meeting on February 19 (usually the third Tuesday in the month). We get together at the Sublette County Weed & Pest Office at 12 South Bench Road, Pinedale (307-367-4728). Social time starts at 4:30 P.M., followed by a short business session at 5:00 P.M. To find out more about the Garden Club and access all Ask Flora (previously Dig It!) articles, visit our website at www.sageandsnow.org. You can also call Garden Club officers Jeanne (307-367-4212) or Doris (307-367-6512) to talk about specific projects you can get involved with, for example planting flower barrels in Pinedale in June. This month the educational topic at our meeting is fruit trees.
Is it hard to make your own lip balm or hand salve? Do you have a recipe?
Signed, Charles Craklips
It is easy and fun to make your own lip balm and hand salve. Here is one recipe for you to try. Invite friends over for a potion and lotion party! You might have to order beeswax, but the other ingredients may be available locally. It would make a great foot rub, too.
Lip Balm and Hand Salve Recipe
4 oz Sweet almond oil
2 oz (1oz for hand salve) Beeswax
10 drops Vitamin E
10 drops Essential oil
You will also need tubes or balm containers and a large syringe or small pitcher to get the hot balm into the containers. Some recipes use honey or cocoa powder, which give the salve a heavenly taste. Just be careful not to lick your lips too much. Calculate how many containers you will need. Place containers on something that can have wax spilled on it. Melt beeswax over a double boiler or very slowly in the microwave. Add other ingredients. Pour into containers. Allow to cool at room temperature and then cap.
When making lip balm and hand salve is there a way to use the plants from my garden?
Signed, Chap Lipman
Yes. Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is one of my favorite annual herbs and they grow very well here. It is easy to add calendula to your homemade balms. Make an olive oil infusion and use that in place of the oil that your recipe calls for. First, dry the calendula petals on a paper plate for a few days. When the petals are dry, fill a pint jar with the petals and add oil to cover. Place the jar in a warm, sunny windowsill and shake once a day. After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth and your oil is ready to use in your balm recipe.
Calendula has been used for centuries to heal wounds and skin irritations. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties, making it useful for disinfecting and treating minor wounds, cuts, scrapes, chapped or chafed skin, bruises, burns, athlete’s foot, acne, bee stings, diaper rashes, other minor irritations and infections of the skin. Plus, it stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites to help minimize scarring and assist with stretch marks. Not only is Calendula a wonderful healing medicinal herb, but it is also a lovely and useful plant in the garden!
My husband does not like lip gloss that is too soft. What adjustments can I make to the recipe to make it firmer?
Signed, Shiny Smackers
Beeswax is the ingredient that most influences the firmness of lip or hand balm. Simply increase the ratio of beeswax to the other ingredients and your husband should be happy with the result.
Why are essential oils used in balms?
Signed, Aromatherapy Curious
Essential oils are a matter of personal preference. They provide stimulus to a person's sense of smell as well as touch. Some common examples include lavender (aromatherapy benefits of balancing, soothing, normalizing, calming, relaxing, and healing), tea tree oil (may have benefits of cleansing, purifying, and uplifting), tangerine (claims to be cheering and uplifting), rose, peppermint, sweet orange, chamomile, vanilla, or carrot seed. Patchouli is one of the few essential oils that improve with age. The aroma is very intense; it can be described as earthy, rich, sweet, balsamic, woody, spicy, romantic, soothing, and sensual. A quick web search for essential oils will introduce you to the many scents and benefits available. Coconut oil can also be used, but liquefies quickly with a small amount of heat, so I would not put this in a lip balm tube in your pocket! Try experimenting to discover your favorites.
I like to use lavender for its great smell, relaxing and calming properties, since I usually use my salve in the evenings before bedtime.