Readers, this is the eighth of 12 basic skills we’re presenting throughout 2019 from Kimberlee Bastien’s book 52 Homestead Skills (available below). We invite you to join Kimberlee’s family on their journey to self-sufficiency. Visit 52 Homestead Skills on our website to learn more about this series.
While on my journey to teach myself one new homesteading skill each week for a year, I focused on beekeeping during August. I bought a Bee Gym to help rid my hive of varroa mites, and watched it go wrong. Heartbroken, I scraped away problematically placed burr comb that was full of bee larvae, but I learned that I may have actually done my bees a favor by ridding the hive of the mites that would have reproduced in those same cells. And while I didn’t expect catching a swarm to be one of the skills I learned, half my bees decided they’d had enough of me and were leaving the hive. But I caught those troublemakers and put them in a new home.
Through these trials, I made sure products gathered from my hives didn’t go to waste. When my bees weren’t able to make enough honey to share, I tagged along with my mentor at his apiary to see how he removed supers and extracted honey from his frames. Back at my own hive, I learned how to render honeycomb into clean and pure beeswax, which I use to make hand salve and lip balm. The resulting honey salve is the best, least expensive hand moisturizer you’ll ever use.
Add more oil to the mix for a softer hand salve, or more beeswax for a firmer final consistency.
Beeswax: I use 1 part beeswax to 4 parts oil. If you like a softer salve for your hands, add more oil. If you like a harder salve, use more wax. Experiment to determine the best consistency for your skin.
Oils: Coconut oil is the latest darling of the beauty world, but I prefer extra-virgin olive oil because it doesn’t clog my pores, works wonders on dry skin, and is easily absorbed. I use a combination of olive and jojoba oils; the latter has natural anti-inflammatory properties. If you don’t like olive or jojoba oil, you can substitute coconut, sweet almond, avocado, or another favorite oil.
Honey: I add a dash of honey to my salve for its healing and antimicrobial properties.
Essential oils: Not only do essential oils smell amazing, but each has unique properties that can improve your skin. Since I’m prone to getting cuts and scrapes, I benefit from lavender’s healing properties. Other skin-friendly essential oils you could choose include calendula, geranium, patchouli, and sandalwood.
- Melt the wax and oil together on low heat, stirring continuously.
- Once melted, remove from heat, add honey and essential oils, and stir until blended.
- Pour mixture into a container of your choice to set.
And there you have it: an inexpensive, all-natural, ultra-moisturizing alternative to store-bought hand salve.
Kimberlee Bastien is an author, blogger, and self-taught homesteader who lives in Canada with her husband and children. Follow their self-sufficiency adventures at The Old Walsh Farm.