‘Tis the season. The season of running recklessly through the woods and lounging around outside on your porch.
These are fun things.
It is also the season of poison ivy and bug bites and bee stings.
These are not fun things.
Recently, Margaret had a serious case of poison ivy. It was all up her legs and arms – the worst. Her eyes were twitching from insanity. Nothing would make the itching stop. She tried baking soda, apple cider vinegar, commercially available super creams. And yet, the torment continued. I had gotten a small patch of PI myself, and although it was nothing compared to what M was dealing with, it was driving me nuts.
Thankfully, mother earth has given us some wonderful remedies for the ills of summer; jewelweed, plantain, violet, and mint. All of these are soothing, healing plants that can really take out the itch, or sting, that’s driving us crazy.
So I decided to pick all these nice wild plants (including some of my little domesticated catnip) and make a healing salve from them. And…it worked! Within a few minutes of putting it on, I didn’t want to rip my eyes out anymore from the itching! And M didn’t look like she was going to snap and murder the next person who spoke to her!
And thus was born the Summer Salve!!
AND THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING!!
Side note: I would still suggest cleansing the poison ivy rash with witch hazel (or apple cider vinegar) about once a day (or more if you feel inclined), as the astringent will keep the area clean and help to stop drainage.
Although I haven’t had occasion to use it for a sting yet, I think the salve should work pretty well – jewelweed should help with itchy bug bites, and plantain is an excellent remedy for bee stings.
Making salve is really easy if you have the right stuff – all you need for a basic salve is a carrier oil (olive, sunflower, grapeseed, sweet almond, jojoba…etc.), herbs, and beeswax. The ratio of beeswax to oil is typically about 1 oz wax to 1 cup oil, but you can play around with these proportions to get different consistencies. You can also mix different oils depending on what you like.
So anyway, here’s how I made the Summer Salve:
Ingredients (makes around 6oz…double this if you think you’ll need more!):
1/4 cup chopped jewelweed
1/8 cup chopped plantain
1/8 cup chopped mixed herbs (catnip, mint, violet leaf)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup beeswax
All of the plants in the salve are really abundant up here in the northeast – you can probably walk out your door and find all of them. If you really can’t find any mint or violet, don’t worry too much about it; the main actors in this salve are jewelweed (which has an anti-itch effect) and plantain (which has a cooling, drawing effect). So just sub in more jewelweed and plantain if you can’t find the others!
Next, pour the olive oil over the herbs.
If you have a bunch of time to wait for the oil to be ready, check out my post on sun brewed oils. If you need the salve LIKE RIGHT NOW TODAY, just set the jar into a pot of shallow water (or use a double boiler if you have one) and turn on the heat to LOW. Let the herbs infuse in the oil over very low heat for a few hours – I left mine for about 12, but I really think 6-8 is enough.
After the oil has steeped, line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and strain out the herbs.
You should be left with a nice, green oil now.
Next, melt the beeswax (use a double boiler, or the ghetto jar-in-water thing that I do).
Add the oils. The beeswax will cool again and turn all weird for a second, so let it melt back down.
Once everything is all melted again, pour the salve into jars.
Ta-da! Now you have an awesome, itch and sting fighting Summer Salve!