On the medicinal herblist in Jun00,

by Henriette

>If I can get dried herb before immersing in the oil it works well. So I usually don't harvest until 2 or 3 days after a rain, because the moisture in the leaf will spoil the oil.

There are some tricks to making herbal oils.

  1. One is, let your herb dry to half its fresh weight before putting it into oil (windowsill method). That way only about one batch in 20 will rot, as opposed to the one batch in four if you do not let your herb wilt first. (SJW is excluded from this consideration; I haven't had a batch of fresh flowering SJW tops go bad on me yet.)

  2. Two is, cover your jar with cheesecloth when you make a fresh herb oil; that way water can evaporate. A tight lid is useful only with dry herb oils.

  3. Three is, let your strained herb oil sit in a tall container for four days. Then you can pour the oil off the bottom sludge. That bottom sludge includes water, and if you leave it in you WILL get mold.

>I like the oven idea though. What a creative bunch we can be!

Fast heated oils can be used in the kitchen, too. I would not use the 4-6 week windowsill oils for that. My heated oils are quite effective. I just cover dried herb with oil (I haven't used fresh herb, because I make the oil into salves rather fast, and fresh herb -does- make for moldy salve, if you don't use trick 3 above) and let sit in the top part of a waterbath for 1-2 hours. After straining out the herb (I use cheesecloth, and wring) and cleaning out the bowl it's a breeze to make that oil into a salve - just add beeswax, let it melt, and pour into jars.

A few mixes I make:

Henriette's Garden Salve

1 part whole calendula flowers (picking only the petals is a waste of time when making salves)
1 part meadowsweet flowers (or buds, or leaf) (Filipendula)
This one is good for gardeners; the meadowsweet eases the muscle ache and the calendula helps with the rough skin. A hint of lavender is usually appreciated, too, but men like mint better.

My VV (Varicose Vein) Salve

1 part calendula flowers
1 part horse chestnut bark, leaf, and/or green chopped-up fruit
This is good for varicosities, burst capillaries and hemorrhoids. Also do horse chestnut tea internally.

Henriette's Ouch! Salve

1 part calendula flowers
1 part SJW flowering tops (very recently dried, or just add fresh oil)
1 part meadowsweet flowers
Excellent for when you've tumbled with your mountain bike or skates, or when you've fallen down a stony and steep ditch. Eases bruises and contusions, helps heal, -and- takes away the pain. A must for people with kids.

One skin salve

1 part calendula flowers
½ part rose buds
(½ part lavender flowers)
Excellent for the skin. Don't use any oil with a scent or smell for this, rose is so delicate that it's easily covered. I have found that eg. grapeseed oil or coldpressed rapeseed is best for this.

Another skin salve

½ part calendula flowers
1 part very strong peppermint leaf
Great vitalizer. The salve should be very deep green, and should have a strong scent of mint, even without adding any EOs.

As you can see I add calendula to almost all my salves. The exceptions would be those where I add plantain leaf (Plantago). I don't use comfrey as it smells musty and old even when it's recently dried, to me. If you have to use comfrey in salves (I don't recommend it), go for leaf rather than root as leaf contains less PAs.

If you don't have meadowsweet you could use balm of gilead buds for the same thing. Or the inner bark of any of a number of trees, like birch, willow, poplar, aspen...

The salves get extra zing if just a tiny hint of cayenne is added to them.

- Henriette

(My salvemaking has changed a lot from this - read more in my blog. -Henriette