Ointments contain fats or oils and heated with herbs. Unlike creams, they contain no water; and, as a result, form a separate layer on the surface of the skin. They protect against injury or inflammation of damaged skin and carry active medicinal constituents to the injured area. Ointments are particularly useful for treating such conditions as hemorrhoids, chapped lips, and diaper rash or where protection from moisture is needed.
- Melt 140 g coconut oil with 120 g beeswax and 100 g powdered herb. Simmer gently for ninety minutes in a glass bowl set in a pan of boiling water, or in a double boiler. Strain well and pour into jars.
- Melt 60 g beeswax with 500 ml olive oil and 120 g dried (300 g fresh) herb in a glass bowl. (Or combine 500 ml of hot infused oil with 60 g melted beeswax). Cover and place into a warm oven for three hours. Remove, strain, and pour into glass jars. This is a less solid ointment, for such conditions as rashes.
- Melt beeswax in a glass bowl set into a pan of boiling water or into a double boiler. Add the finely cut herb and simmer for fifteen minutes, stirring continuously. Pour the herb mixture into a jelly bag secured to the tim of a jug with string and allow the liquid to filter through. Wearing clean rubber gloves, squeeze as much of the hot herb mixture as possible through the bag into the jug. Quickly pour the molten ointment into jars before it sets in the jug. Place the lid on each jar without securing it firmly. When cool, tighten and label.
Ointments can be made with dozens of bases and vary in consistency depending on the constituents and proportions used. Some herbalists advocate using petroleum jelly or paraffin wax as an easy base, but this is not popular with purists who do not favour the use of petroleum products. Bees wax is the most traditional method of solidifying the ointment. A solid and relatively grease-free ointment will spread easily and is used in such preparations as lip balm. This may be made by using alternatives to mineral-type oils.
Salves are semi-solid medicinal preparations made with herbs and beeswax. They are more closely aligned with the #3 ointment recipe. It is best to use dried herbs as fresh ones contain moisture that could lead to spoilage of the mixture. Herbal salves are used for a variety of skin conditions, including scrapes, burns, drawing out toxins, chapped, cuts, bites, rough skin, sunburn, bruises, stings, and any other skin irritation. They are also used to carry herbs for a specific therapeutic effect as vapor balms for decongesting, and can act as a drawing agent to remove foreign objects from the skin.
- 1/2 ounce powdered Comfrey root
- 1/4 ounce crushed Calendula flowers
- 1/4 ounce powdered Slippery Elm
- 4 ounces olive oil
- 1/4 ounce beeswax
- 4 drops tincture of Benzoin
- Essential oil or Vitamin E, if desired
Place oil in a pot to heat. Bring the temperature to between 27-38 C (80-100 F) and stir in the herbs. Keep this mixture at the same temperature, uncovered, for two to forty-eight hours. The length of time is determined by how quickly the herbs lose their colour and by the scent. Twelve hours is usually the average time and a controlled crock pot is the best for accomplishing this.
Once the herbs have lost their colour, strain well, first through a strainer and then a cheesecloth so that there is no grit remaining. Discard herbs, wipe out the pot, and return the oil to it. Melt the beeswax in another pot while the herbal oil is reheating in the crock pot. When wax has melted, combine the two and measure consistency by pouring a small amount onto a spoon. It should harden so that, if the spoon is tipped sideways, the mixture adheres. Pour the liquid into jars to cool.
If the environment is naturally warm, a little more beeswax may be necessary; or, if living in a colder climate, a little less will be necessary in order to take the product out of the jar. Once the consistency has been determined, add the essential oil for fragrance, the Vitamin E for healing, and/or the tincture of Benzoin (1 drop per ounce of base), a balsamic tree resin and a safe preservative.