Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Carrot and Geranium Salve

Yesterday I made a new batch of Carrot and Geranium Salve, which is cooling, soothing and nutritive for any dry and chapped skin. The ingredients are totally natural, healing and wholesome (as opposed to the synthetic components in commercial preparations which include byproducts of the petrochemical industry), you can make it easily at home and it keeps indefinitely. So I love it! I use mine as a lip balm, which I apply morning and night. I can also recommend it for when you have a cold, and the skin on your nose becomes red and sore and chapped through constantly using tissues: put some salve on at night before you go to sleep and be amazed how it heals!

The basic carrot salve recipe comes from a wonderful book 'Herbal Remedies: A practical beginner's guide to making effective remedies in the kitchen' by Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw which is full of very simple but effective remedies which you can make from vegetables, herbs and spices readily to hand with no fancy equipment or utensils needed. It really got me into having a go at home-made remedies.

The original recipe gives the proportion of 1 part beeswax to 5 parts oil, although I use much more beeswax than this to give a more solid ointment more appropriate to a lip balm. Beeswax is so nutritive and healing on its own, that the higher the content the better, I find. I am lucky enough to have been given an ample free supply by a bee-keeping friend, but you can buy beeswax granules fairly readily. You don't need to use any particular fine or expensive oil for this recipe. Regular sunflower oil is perfect, though I start a new bottle of organic oil for making the salve.

The quantity specified depends on the size of your carrots, but makes rather a lot so you might want to halve it. Yesterday's batch made about a pint which fills enough jars to give several away to friends and relatives while still supplying enough for general use for the next few years. You need to collect and clean/ sterilise lots of little glass jars. I like to save little jam and marmalade pots, but I also reuse containers, some plastic, which had other creams or beauty products in.

As well as thickening the recipe with extra beeswax, I have also changed it by adding a drop or two of essential oil at the end of the process. You really don't need any more than this to impart a pleasant fragrance to the salve (which on its own doesn't really smell of anything). Geranium seems to suit very nicely, and actually has its own skin soothing properties which makes it an ideal choice.

General hints and tips are:

1. If you're anything like me, you WILL get drops of oil everywhere so have a kitchen roll to hand, and run a sink full of hot soapy water before you start!

2. Its not dangerous or difficult to do, but you will be heating oil.. so don't allow yourself to be distracted (this is not a recipe to do with children running under your feet or a phone that needs answering nearby)

3. You always need more jars than you think you will!

Carrot and Geranium Salve

Take two plumptious fresh organic carrots

Wash and grate them, then put them in a large frying pan and just cover them with sunflower oil. Fry gently until the oil turns orange and the carrot is soft.

Remove from the heat and, when cooled slightly, strain into a pyrex jug.

This is your infused oil. To thicken this into an ointment, place the jug into a pan of gently boiling water. The water level should be lower than the level of the oil in the jug. Keep it simmering very gently on a low heat, while adding chunks of beeswax to the oil. Stir occasionally with a wooden spatula to encourage the beeswax to melt and disperse.

To test the consistency, pour a little of the mixture into one (the smallest) of your clean jars and allow to cool.

Return the jug to the pan and add more beeswax if you would like a thicker (more solid) ointment. Once the mixture is ready, remove from the heat and allow to stand and cool slightly. When it is only warm rather than hot, add one or two drops of geranium essential oil and mix in well before pouring into the remaining clean jars.

You will notice that as the ointment sets it forms a little dimple in the centre. This is supposed to happen and isn't a problem. If you want a more perfect finish, most books say you can keep a little mixture back to reheat and use to top up the jars (I have never felt the need!)


Alchemille said...

I've been wanting to make a carrot infused oil (I used to take carrot oil gelcaps internally when I was an adolescent and my skin was beautiful).
I tried the cold/solar method and my oil turned bad, probably because of the water content in the carrots.
I'll try the hot method.
Thank you for posting this.

Cheryl said...

Tku Hedgewitch, I will definately be trying this. I always get a sore nose when I have a cold, so this sounds as though it may help. It sounds easy, so here we go......

Nutty Knitter said...

Ohhh ... I am tempted to try this!

Hedgewitch said...

You're welcome, alchemille.. would be interested to hear what you think of it?

Good luck, cheryl .. trust me, if I can do it anyone can! Alternatively, just let me know next time you get a cold and I'll pop some in the post to you :-)

Go for it, nutty!!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Hedgewitch,
Thanks for this "recipe." It sounds like something I'd like to try (for myself and for gifts). What is the shelf life of this salve?

Hedgewitch said...

hey ruthie.. it keeps indefinitely, because the beeswax acts as a preservative.

The last batch I made was 5 years ago and so I can vouch for it keeping well for at least that long, lol!

Yarrow said...

oh lovely. I can't wait to try it!