Minding My Bees Wax….Calendula Oils….Honey Lip Balm…& More!

Happy Tuesday, I’m hoping to get this written and posted today, but it if happens to be a Thursday or a Friday you are reading this…so sorry about that-this post has been six months or so in the making…..apparently I’m not super great about writing about my oils – nor am I super great about even processing them! I did manage to dole out some Calendula salve, Honey Lip Balm & St. John’s Wart salve, but I still have several batches I never finished making into salve for Christmas – I need to finish them up and pass them out soon!

It’s a bit of a process to gather the pictures and the different videos that I used. But as requested….I put together a little bit about my oil process.

The nice thing about this taking so long to write is that I can give you updates on how it worked—this summer while on one of our camping trips I managed to get a nasty sun burn on my shins – one of the draw backs of lovely Washington skin of a flower farmer, my arms and back see plenty of sun while in the garden, but my shins not so much! I rarely peel, but my shins were an exception this year-I used lots and lots of salve on them and they healed up nicely. I have no ide if they would have been fine with just Avveno or store bought Aloe, but I had the Calendula salve and used it a great deal. My niece also happened to have a sun burn on her face, that peeled – so we used the salve on her face also, it healed nicely and didn’t cause any clogging in her pores – so that’s a plus for a 15 year old!

***I will go into full disclaimer mode at this time – I am by no means an expert, and as it turns out neither are some of the books, videos or blog that I’ve gotten information from! I tried a method that I found in a book and it didn’t work the way it said it would, nor did the method work that one of the videos said to use – so, you live and learn and see what works for you. The following is what works for me….

I followed a recipe for salve from this book by Rosemary Gladstar, but made a few changes. I added a dropper full of Vitamin E. You kind of have to play with the amounts depending on how firm you want your salve to be.

Some of the items that I collected are: Please note….this is by no means a complete list, and collecting these items can be expensive, so if you have a way of cutting corners, by all means do it…but don’t buy cheap carrier oils or essential oils, if you are cutting corners cut on the processing containers by using old canning jars, use a t-shirt in place of the cheese cloth…)

  • Fresh & Dried Calendula (I grew myself)
  • Grape Seed Oil (Costco & Cash-n-Carry)
  • Olive Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Bees Wax (local)-but then bought from Meyer’s Bees because grating bees wax is kinda a pain in the rear!)
  • Honey (local)
  • Fresh St. John’s Wart plant – use just the yellow flowers when they are completely open. One way to double check that it is SJW – crush a blossom between your fingers, if it turns red it is ready to use (grows readily on my property as well as along side the road, be sure the county hasn’t come through and dumped a bunch of weed killer on it!)
  • Coconut Oil (be sure to pay attention to the fact that it either stays as a liquid and never hardens, or one that turns back into a solid-one of mine arrived as a liquid because it was super hot in the UPS truck…interesting!)
  • Coconut Butter (Amazon)
  • Vitamin E (Amazon)
  • Essential oils for fragrance (I do not have much experience in this area, but I’ve been told Young Life has good ones, so I ran with them)
  • Various containers to store the salves, oils and lip balms (purchase them on Amazon, just type in “containers for salves”, pay attention to the reviews. I also used small, short canning jars, but to store the oils they recommend dark containers so the oils last longer. I like the glass ones, they look high end and make great gifts)
  • Various containers to steep the oils (old canning jars with old seals and rings work great!)
  • Cheese Cloth (bought on Amazon)

What is important to consider when planting anything – what is your end goal? I’ve been wanting to grow something that I could utilize after it grew, not just put it in the vase and have it die – which there is totally nothing wrong with, it’s the cycle of life, but I’ve always wanted to try something that I could use after it was harvested. I planted a lot more flowers that can be used in dried arrangements, in addition to more sage and of course the Calendula. I heard Calendula was good to make salves out of for dry skin and other skin issues, so I thought it would be fun to make some for my daughter who has eczema. She has tried a lot of things, but no luck. -**-update: so far she likes the salve, she says after using it a few times she can see a difference, but forgets to use it and it flares back up. I think with anything the key is to use it consistently.

What was so fun about this project was that I started my own Calendula flowers from seed at home, so it was fun to see the process of planting them, tending to them, and caring for them while they grew, so much to learn and so very much to enjoy!

First off, the seeds were so interesting that it made me giggle how they looked like tiny little snails….I’m so looking forward to harvesting the seeds and sharing them and planting them again next year. I hear they reseed themselves very well, but we till…and plant in rows, so it’s likely they will not have much of a chance of surviving, maybe next season I will plant them elsewhere so I don’t have to regrow them every year? Maybe a raised herb garden dear husband of mine??!!

Seed starting in February!

They were easy to grow, and happy to please. They went out into the field in mid-April. They thrived out there, growing quickly bringing lots of cheery yellows, oranges and all the shades in between!

Out in the fields by mid-April
Beautiful colors!
Harvesting-some say pick when they are just barely open, some say if they are open pick & lay them out to dry

One of the videos I really like is by Morag Gamble with Our Permaculture Life.

What is interesting is that she says to use the flower just as you harvest it or let it just dry for a day. It seemed odd to me that you would put it directly in the oils, when there is such a high risk of gross mold and whatnot that can happen when you mix wet moist material with oil. Some of the videos said to dry it first, so I decided since I had a ton I would try it both ways.

My mom bruises super easily, and has thin skin so she has lots of small abrasions, according to my research, St. John’s Wort oil is great for healing those up quickly, so I did some prep for that as well. Thankfully a fellow blog reader cautioned me to let people know about sun exposure while using that oil – sure enough it even said that in that book – so I need to read more carefully and thoroughly before I go handing these oils out as gifts.

Unfortunately…..I used Olive Oil as my carrier for the fresh stuff, and it turns out I hate the smell of Olive Oil, which I didn’t know until after all of my fresh flowers had steeped in it for three weeks. And sadly, I threw it out because I didn’t want people thinking it was rancid, but….as it turns out my daughter thought the smell was fine, but my aunt thought it was horrible. I thought it best just to get rid of it and not waste my time processing it. Live and learn.

As it turns out, my choice of carrier oil is Grape Seed oil. I didn’t know that Olive Oil is higher on the list of causing clogged pores until someone mentioned it on my Instagram post, but it makes sense, so all the more reason to use Grape Seed oil instead of Olive Oil.

I put the fresh flowers on a cookie cooling rack in the greenhouse
Some of them upside down….
Fresh Calendula in Olive Oil
I have no idea why this one – the only one – molded….?? Gross!
St. John’s Wort…waiting to turn red
St. John’s oil doing it’s thing – only after being in DIRECT sunlight – tipped it on it’s side & out on the patio ALL day
Olive oil Calendula oil, sent home with my daughter who thinks it’s just fine
Calendula oil with grapeseed waiting to cool….it ended up being too runny, so I added more bees wax
Local Beeswax – I’ve decided I’m not interested in grated anymore….so I’m buying pellets from a place in Idaho
Freshly drained Calendula – be sure to squeeze it out!
Create a double boiler method by putting the oil and beeswax in the jar and putting the jar in the pot of boiling water
Notice it says….NEVER Hardens…I suggest not using this for salves – you want it to be a little firm

For the lip balm I followed this recipe from the people that I will be purchasing the bees wax pellets from Meyers Bees Wax. If you click on the link I provided, it will pop up with a recipe book of all sorts of goodies you can make!

It turned out really well, super easy to make, and is nice and firm. Joe really likes it – I suggest not leaving it in your car on a hot day! The containers are great, they have little plastic lids that make a good seal so they don’t leak even if you do have liquid in them. The glass containers make a nice looking gift!

Honey Lip Balm

That’s it for now – let me know if I missed anything-i could chat for hours about my herbs, oils & gardening! Hope all is well with you! Chat soon!

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