Making your own balms can be creative and therapeutic for you and your family. With practice you can develop herbal remedies that can benefit mild skin conditions, nappy rash, achey joints, scars and stretch marks as well as moisturise, nourish and soften your skin.
So, for the first few days of spring have a forage in your garden, local woodland or public footpaths for a therapeutic plant that could be beneficial.
Remember, it’s always important to identify accurately what you are about to pick. A book, app or online search can help.
Here are some plants that are commonly available and we have collected at Pippettes Farm:
This weekend I foraged Daisies, Nettle, Cleavers, Red Dead Nettle, Chickweed and a few Calendula flowers.
The Daisies, Calendula and Chickweed are wonderful additions to a soothing skin balm and I am going to show you how easy it is to make your own.
- Firstly pick and carefully clean your herbs and get them drying. There are some herbs that can be infused whilst fresh but for safety its best to thoroughly dry them.
- Place the flowers on a wire tray in a dark, warm cupboard or hang the longer stemmed leafy herbs in a loose bunch in a brown paper bag with some holes for ventilation. They should be dry in a week.
No time ? Don’t despair - you can buy the dried herbs and infused oils from us.
In the meantime decide what you want to make.
To infuse the oil:
- Use a clean, sterilised small jam jar (in the oven, or use rubbing/ isopropyl alcohol) and place your dried and now chopped (to increase surface area) herb mix in to fill two third of the jar. The jar size will vary depending in the harvest but you only need a little so I wouldn’t go larger than a traditional 250 - 300ml jam jar.
- Fill the jar with an oil of your choice such as organic Olive, Avocado, Sweet Almond, Jojoba, (or a combination) and ensure that there is the minimum air left in the jar and all plant matter is covered. The narrower the jar neck the better.
- Label and let it sit in a dark warm place for a couple of weeks.
- Name the herbs, where picked, the oil and the date and batch.
- If you can’t wait, you can slowly warm the herbs and oils in a bain marie at a very slow simmer, but this can denature the extracts if the temperature gets too hot.
- After a couple of weeks of slow infusion, double filter the oil through a very fine tea strainer or coffee filter and store in the fridge.
- Store in a bottle size similar to oil volume so the surface area open to the air is minimal. This helps reduce oxidation and rancidity.
- At this stage I recommend adding 5ml vitamin E, if you have it, to help preserve.
- You can use this as a therapeutic oil directly on your skin.
- Now you can start to decide what you want to make, and which essential oils to add. If yours is for a baby I recommend not using essential oils.
For my balm, Chickweed, Calendula and Daisies makes a lovely combo for inflamed, itchy and dry skin. I put a small amount of essential oil in too, to make it smell lovely and get additional therapeutic benefits for inflamed skin. Chamomile is a lovely option, but very expensive, so Lavender, Tea Tree or Frankincense may be a more reasonable.
Using Pippettes Forager's Balm
This is the easy option which involves little time and no waste
- Simply remove Foragers Balm from paper pot and slowly melt in a bain marie / double boiler.
- Once melted remove from heat.
- Add infused oil or other preferred vegetable oils up to 10 % which is 7 – 15ml
- Add essential oils with up to 40 drops / 2ml of essential oils . Mix thoroughly, but pour back into pot (or other pots before it starts to set).
You can just add essential oils or just infused oils if preferred.
To make a balm;
- 15g beeswax (or Candelilla wax for vegan option)
- 30g Shea or Coconut Butter
- 20g base oil – Sunflower/ Sweet Almond …or your choice
- Melt ingredients together in a double burner until everything has melted
- Allow to cool to 50 degrees C
- 30g foraged infused oil (this must be room temp or a little warmer to avoid beeswax solidifying on addition)
- 4g vitamin E (or increase oil volume)
- 1g (20 drops ) essential oil of choice
- Stir gently to avoid bubbles and then pour into jar . Allow to cool.
Shelf life 6 months.