Thursday, May 31, 2012
Self Sufficiency-Makin' Medzin Salves
I grew up on a small farm. Chickens, turkeys, rabbits, a horse, 3 goats for milk, cheese, and to clear our land, along with multiple cats and dogs and numerous other small pets. We grew or made a lot of our own food and also made things like soap (from rancid butter leftover from commodities-this was part of the hand outs given by the Seventh Day Adventist church a town over along with canned meat, applesauce, cheese, and peanut butter) salves, and tinctures. We made our own medicine as there was no money, or much respect, for Western medicine.
This wasn't that long ago, as I am 30 years old. People DO STILL live like this all over the country. Part of my child hood was spent in a one room, dirt floor house with no indoor plumbing. When you think you got it hard, you best think again. I remember my mother scrubbing my clothes on a washboard outside...how bloody her hands were. BUT this life and our beliefs taught me to be self sufficient-something we are losing rapidly as a people. It was important and necessary to learn to live WITH the land and spirits. It was a way to ensure good health without paying much money and without travel. It was a way to survive and build confidence. It was a way to connect, nourish, and renew as a whole.
EVERY person should know their directions (N, E, S, W) how to grow at least a few types of food, and how to make a basic tincture and salve. EVERY person should know how to care for themselves and their own family without relying solely on others. You will be shocked how much this feeds the soul and nourishes the spirit. We are detached from our land but we can choose to learn things that will attach us again to Her. It takes very little time and effort.
Salves are an easy medzin to make and can be use for numerous ailments depending on what herbs and essential oils you add. Everything from clear skin, bug bites, arthritis, bruises, sprains, headaches, cuts, dry skin, I could go on.
So here is a basic salve recipe for you to try so y'all can start makin' one of your own medzins:)
Roughly 2 cups of mixed herbs
Roughly 4 cups of fine base oil
pyrex measuring cup
containers for salve
essential oil (optional)
First you need a large jar- a large Ball canning jar is good. Fill it half way with herbs you have researched that fit your condition and make sure they are skin safe. Some herbs can not be applied to broken skin-you would not use these in a salve for cuts. Use common sense.
Next, choose a nice base oil. Safflower, Sunflower, Grapeseed, Olive, and Almond are all available at a good size grocer. A large bottle will cost no more than $10.
Add the oil to the jar and macerate the herbs by gently shaking the jar or bruising them with a spoon. Let this sit in a sunny window for at least 2 weeks.
After this, use a fine colander to strain the oil into a pyrex measuring cup. Next get a small, clean pot and put it on low on the stove. Keep the temperature low as these oils are delicate and will burn. Add the oil to the pot and warm, next add your beeswax. This is what turns your oil into a salve consistency. I use about 1/4 of beeswax to how much oil I have. Some folks use up to a half and half ratio-it depends how hard you want your salve. An easy test is once the beeswax is melted completely, dip a butter knife in the pot and drop a drip on the counter-it will set up quickly and this dot will be an example of the consistency of your salve. At this time, you may also add any other natural additives such as shea butter or cocoa butter.
Beeswax can be the trickiest ingredient to locate. I get mine from local beekeepers and if you do some research, you can do the same. If not, most craft stores will carry it though it can be found much cheaper on -line in bulk.
Turn off the heat and remove-let cool for a while. If you pour it into plastic jars too soon it will literally melt the jars! Use tins if you are concerned. Set your containers of choice on a cookie sheet to allow for ease when moving and also to contain any spills. Pour the oil back into the pyrex cup-over the sink in case you spill. Then pour this into your containers. If you spill, wait for it to harden, peal it up and put it back into the pyrex and it will re-melt; waste not, want not! Once poured, wait until the salve starts to "set" it will begin to harden on the bottom-this is when you add your essential oils. If you add them when the liquid is too hot they will evaporate immediately out of the salve. If you wait too long you will have skin on the top of your salve and the oils will not spread evenly throughout the salve.
Cap and move tray to the fridge or allow to cool on the counter. I prefer to move mine to the fridge so they do not get bumped.
On average this makes about ten, 2 ounce containers for me, but it depends on what herbs are in the mix as different herbs will absorb more or less of the oil; petals absorb a lot, roots absorb little.
Hope you try it out!