During naturopathic medical school, one of my favorite classes was Botanical Medicine Lab (AKA Bot Med Lab). Every week, we got to make herbal concoctions, often from scratch, and in the springtime we even got to harvest our own herbs!
It makes me feel especially witch doctor-y to reminisce on those days of Bot Med Lab.
One of the concoctions that has stuck with me is making my own herbal salves. There are so many harsh chemicals that get added to lotions & moisturizers, and I've found great enjoyment (& super soft skin!) from making my own moisturizing salve.
Here is the recipe if you'd like to try your hand at witch doctoring!
If you want to go really from scratch, you'll start with harvesting your own herbs, drying them, and making an herbal oil. Skip ahead if you want to make your own salve, but don't want to wait 6 weeks for the oil to cure.
Harvesting From Scratch Method
- Harvest (responsibly pick) a basket-worth of calendula flowers. Calendula officinalis, also known as pot marigold, is a cheerful sunshine flower that is very medicinal for treating all kinds of skin conditions. These flowers are hardy, so don't worry about ruining the flowers. Pick the flower, base, and some stem & leaves. It also grows quite quickly, so it's not too late to start your herb garden once your last freeze is done!
- Dry the calendula either in a dehydrator or hanging in a sunny window. I recommend dehydrator method, especially if you live in a humid, wet environment. P.S. You can also use an air fryer!
- Once calendula is dried, fill a half gallon-sized jar 2/3 way full with the dried flower.
- Pour olive oil into the jar, enough to cover the flower at least by 1 inch.
- Give the jar a swirl, cap it tightly and place in a sunny windowsill.
- Give the jar a swirl or shake once daily. Let sit for 4-6 weeks.
- After 4-6 weeks, strain with a cheesecloth & save the oil in a glass jar.
What you'll need:
- 1 oz beeswax
- 1 cup shea butter &/or coconut oil
- 1 cup calendula oil
- an old saucepan (one that you don't mind never using for cooking again)
- 20 2 oz tin jars, small glass jars, or upcycled balm containers
- Place beeswax & shea butter/coconut oil in a saucepan. I often use a combination of shea butter and coconut oil because I like the texture & smell. Melt over medium-low heat.
- Once solids are nearly melted, add calendula oil. Mix together until well combined.
- While melted, pour into your containers. Measure by the spoonfuls if you don't feel daring.
- Let cool for 8-12 hours. Store them & enjoy!