July 8, 2008

Katherine's Handmade Life Healing Salve

Some blogs are so slickety perfect they read like magazines. Magazines can be entertaining. But for me, blogging is more interesting and far richer when its done honestly and in real time. Those super glitzy uber "creative" blogs....um....yeah, well.... An old addict once said to me he had finally come to understand that reality is far stranger, richer, and more interesting than any drug. Why leave reality for the fake shallow world of drugs? Sometimes those slick blogs seem a bit more like wishful thinking than honest reporting. Reading those blogs is more like dipping into an afternoon cocktail than touching something real. And I'm not above an occasional drink. But often as not, I just end up with a headache and the hangover of contact with soul sucking half truths.

However, I believe the collective unconscious is a real working entity in this world. And blogs reflect this. It happens all the time, that ideas will flash in several places at once. Stephanie over at Blueyonder has a fabulous blog. I marvel that she can be so slick and so real. I actually believe she is as clever and creative as she seems. I believe the richness you find on her blog. I'm guessing her life looks similar to the way it seems, that her insides match her outsides, and she is the genuIne Texas real deal.

Stephanie is blogging about natural cosmetics. I know a thing or two about handmade unguents and potions. And just last night went surfing, in frustration, for a way to make sunscreen. I found an answer on an old Mothering forum post from years ago. Apparently, I read in gasping astonishment last night, you can buy powdered zinc oxide and powdered titanium dioxide off of (oh my freaking god) Ebay, of all places. And you can mix one tablespoon of each powder into one cup of your favorite lotion for a nice sunblock with an spf of 30. "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezey."

I can write for a long long time about handmade natural cosmetics. Its a continuing interest of mine. As I am perpetually frustrated by the mass produced crap available. All of which (oh yes I am making a black and white statement here) ALL of which is produced for the single purpose of taking your money. But exactly in the self same way that mass produced education often moves beyond failure to actually causing harm. Mass produced skin care produces are pots of festering goo. They may get the job done, sometimes. You can get your hair clean. You can spackle your pits. But at what price, literally, biologically, and environmentally? The price is huge, environmentally. And so obvious, I can't bother writing it out. Don't get me started on the whole topic of smell. I'd never make it to my intended point.

Stephanie wondered if there is a way to get her fresh herbs into her cosmetics directly. She doesn't want to depend on essential oils. I think, she wants to use what is fresh and homegrown. Oh, how I thrill to read that simple sentiment. How lovely, sublime, reasonable, and I'll tell you now, how very easy.

You can make a strong tea with your herbs, and mix those into a good many potions. Take care when using water, that you are introducing a medium to feed bacteria and mold. Either make tiny batches, keep them refrigerated, or find a way to preserve them. Boric acid is a reasonable option. As is citric acid.

But for lotions I prefer to use dried herbs, gently heat them in your base oil, and strain before proceeding with your recipe. For example:

Katherine's Handmade Life Healing Salve

One cup olive oil heated GENTLY (never to smoking point)
Add a handful of dried comfrey leaf and yarrow. Heat gently until you smell the herbs surrendering to the oil. Remove from heat and strain. While warm add a tablespoon of powdered golden seal root. Gently grate beeswax into this warm fresh mixture. Perhaps two tablespoons? The more beeswax you add, the firmer your salve will be. As I use this salve to dress wounds and scrapes, I prefer mine very soft.

After the wax is melted into the oil, decant into decorative pots and bestow upon your dearest friends. Next year they will be clambering for more.

This salve works wonders on dogs as well. And it still works, even if they lick most of it off. Note that golden seal actually is golden. It will turn your skin temporarily yellow. Kids love this aspect, proof its working, I say to them.


Blue Yonder said...

Katherine! Thank you, truly, for the kind words and most especially for taking the time to share your wealth of information! I can't wait to try this!

One question: do you dry your own herbs?

Since I've not had a lot of success with veggies in my garden, I'm thinking of giving it over to herbs that we can use at home for cooking, but also for other purposes, so I'd love to know how to preserve them.

Hope your day is wonderful, sweet mama!

Katherine said...

Gosh, I really could write about so many different aspects of working with herbs.

Drying them couldn't be simpler - especially in Texas. You can spread them on a cookie sheet and let them sit in a cool oven till dry. You can make small bunches tied with pretty bits of lace and hang them from your rafters. You can forget about them, leaving them neglected on your counter till you find them later. They just need a quiet, dry, shady place to rest a few days until they are dry.

After harvesting them, don't wash them, if at all possible. That just introduces more moisture. Try to pick them when they are clean.

Heather said...

I actually think there are several "natural" products available in stores that at least STARTED with some other intention besides taking your money. If you had stumbled upon some salon-quality (whatever that is) shampoo that's completely natural, wouldn't you want to share it with the world? So you'd maybe make it at home for a while, until your orders exceeded your capacity. Then you might take it to a manufacturer and somehow, before you even knew what happened, you'd surrender your formula for tweaking or whatever, and sell yourself out to consumerism.

I love the idea of making your own salve. Medicine, really. Healing your family, all by yourself, without surrendering to the (poor) judgement of the FDA.

Katherine said...

Yeah Heather, I know you're right. Those black and white statements will bite you in the fanny every time. I'm bitter I guess, because I feel let down by the "natural health care" industry. But eh, I should be making my own anyway.

Katherine said...

Oh gosh. I love creative blogs and I need the inspiration I find there. If you are a blogger and you never plagiarise ideas, then I'm not talking about your blog. I was referring to those blogs which seem a little too good to be true. They probably aren't so true. That's all I meant.

Annie said...

Another great read this morning! I hear you in the comments here too. Great thoughts.

I too wonder about the authenticity of some of the perfect blogs I've seen out there. I do believe that some are incredibly creative and real as you say but others... not so much.

I've heard that mass consuming of certain foods like melon (?) can also protect you from the sun?

Annie said...

Oh and I wanted to comment that there are very few actual natural products on the market today. Too many preservatives and other such ingredients need to be added to make these products viable for larger scale sale.

I'd love to hear more about the natural products you know how to make, Katherine. I use so few because I want to keep it as simple and natural as possible. Salves especially I'm eager to make more of so thanks for posting one of your recipes!