Consider this salve for bug bites, hot rashes, clean wounds, or any itchy skin conditions. The optional lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil is also wonderful for the same conditions, gives the salve a nice scent, and is a mild preservative. This recipe makes a soft salve. If you anticipate storing this in a warm location, you can add more beeswax to reinforce its solid form. Up to 2 ounces of beeswax can be used in total. Yield: four 2-ounce containers.
- 2 large handfuls fresh chickweed
- 1-1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 ounce beeswax
- 30 to 50 drops lavender essential oil, optional
Prep the day before: Chop fresh chickweed finely and arrange it in a thin layer on a cutting board or cookie sheet. Allow to wilt for 12 to 24 hours.
The next day: Add wilted chickweed to olive oil. You’ll get the best results if you have roughly equal amounts of chickweed and olive oil.
1. Place the mixture in a blender or food processor. Blend for 15 to 20 seconds, or until the chickweed and olive oil are well-blended. (This will further break up the cell walls, helping the extraction process.)
2. Place blended mixture in the top of a double boiler, or in a bowl on top of a pan containing 2 inches of water. (The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.)
3. Bring water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir oil occasionally, and continue heating until oil is quite warm to the touch. Turn off heat and allow mixture to sit for several hours. Repeat this process (reheating and allowing to cool) several times within a 24- to 48-hour period to fully extract the chickweed into the oil. Don’t let the oil get so hot that it smokes or that the plant material begins to “fry” and get crispy — you only need to get the oil warm enough to extract the goodness. When the oil is well-infused with chickweed, it will take on a vibrant green color.
4. After 24 to 48 hours, strain out the plant material through a double layer of cheesecloth.
5. Measure 1 cup of the infused oil. (Extra oil can be used as a body moisturizer. If you don’t end up with a full cup of oil, add a little plain olive oil to make up the difference.)
6. Using a double boiler or a pan on very low heat, melt the beeswax. The smaller your pieces of beeswax, the faster they’ll melt.
7. After the beeswax has liquefied, add the chickweed oil. Stir well to combine, using as little heat as possible. Add lavender essential oil, if using.
8. Immediately pour into tins or glass jars of your choice.
9. Let the salve cool until it hardens. Label and store in a cool place.
This salve will last for up to a year and will provide you with various forms of welcome relief throughout the different seasons.
Cleanup tip: Use a paper towel to wipe out the pan you used to make the salve while the pan is still warm. Wipe out as much as possible, then wash with hot, soapy water.