by Orissa Mora-Kent
Whether you are looking for a safe salve for nappy rashes, or something to rub into working hands that could use a little TLC from all those weather cracks, or an active playful child who has knees and elbows, this salve is for you. It’s good for use on insect bites, scratches, rashes, nicks, cuts, dry skin, you name it – and even works as an earthy lip-balm.
The first step in making your own Healing Salve with Plantain-infused Olive and Coconut Oils is to prepare a batch of plantain-infused olive oil which will later serve as the base for the salve.
Plantain, the herb, from the genus Plantago is not to be confused with cooking plantain which is from the genus Musa and related to bananas. Plantago species grow abundantly in North America as well as in many other parts of the world. The most common type is Plantago Major, also known as broadleaf plantain. (Ribwort Plantain, also known as narrow leaf plantain is the type used in this salve preparation but they can be interchanged easily.) Thought by some to be a pesky weed, it is actually a vital healing herb that has many uses. Its medicinal properties are well-known and abundant. According to one source, GreenMedInfo:
Studies have shown that plantain has anti-inflammatory effects, and it is also rich in tannin (which helps draw tissues together to stop bleeding) and allantoin (a compound that promotes healing of injured skin cells).
Plantain can be found growing in most urban yards, but if it’s not growing where you are or you don’t have a pesticide-free source, dried pesticide-free plantain leaves can be purchased online.
How to Make Plantain-infused Olive Oil
- Wide mouth jar
- Olive Oil
- Freshly picked pesticide free plantain leaves
Select a wide mouth jar. Sanitise and dry thoroughly.
On a warm, sunny day after the dew has dried, pick enough plantain to fill selected jar. Ribwort plantain (Narrowleaf plantain) was used for this preparation but Plantago major (Broadleaf plantain) could also be used. Choose plantain from an area that you know has not been sprayed with pesticides. Brush off any dirt but do not wash. If the leaves you pick are not already completely dry, place plantain leaves on a plate in the fridge overnight to remove all moisture from leaves. (If using fridge, remove leaves from fridge the next day and chop finely.) Stuff chopped plantain into selected jar, leaving 1″ of headspace at the top. Fill jar with olive oil. Fasten lid securely and then label with date of preparation.
Store filled jar in a warm, sunny spot in your home where it can receive the most direct sunlight. If preparing during warmer seasons, jar can be set outside in direct sunlight.
Shake jar once daily for one month. Then using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, strain infused oil and discard plantain leaves into compost bin.
You now have your own batch of plantain-infused olive oil for using to make healing salve. This infused-oil will keep for up to one year.
Making the Salve
- small pot
- 1/2 cup
- silicone spatula
- 2 ounce tins for storing salve (this recipe requires 3 tins)
1/2 cup plantain-infused olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons bees-wax pellets
10-20 drops essential oils of choice (ex. Lavender, Cypress, White Fir, Cedarwood)
In a small pot combine plantain-infused olive oil with coconut oil and warm until coconut oil has melted. Turn off heat and add beeswax pellets. Whisk until all pellets have melted in oils. Now add essential oils.
Pour liquid into tins, using a spatula to scrape down sides of pot to not waste any oil. Set tins somewhere they can cool. Note: this recipe results in a smooth salve, if a harder salve is desired – increase beeswax pellets.
Ready to Come to the Rescue Year Round
Once salve has hardened, put lids on and label. Your homemade salve is ready to come to the rescue healing cracked hands, soothing nappy rashes, fixing skinned knees and elbows, and drawing out the sting from insect bites.
The small size of the salve tins makes it easy to carry in ones purse, keep in a medicine cabinet or even slip into a coat pocket – it comes in handy to have this salve around!
In a pinch, if you don’t have salve already handy, a plantain leaf can be picked, chewed and then applied directly to the site of a bee sting to bring immediate relief.