October 19, 2021

Lemon Balm salve

Lemon balm is a member of the mint plant family. It was one of the first things I planted back in 1981 when I first moved onto this piece of property. It takes a lot to kill it off once it's established but continually mowing it off will do it. My first husband didn't like where I planted it so he mowed over it every week. "Ex" is for many reasons. But I digress... I have a nice new patch planted this year. It will eventually be the centerpiece of an herb garden.

Lemon balm is also a medicinal herb. For my purposes, I steeped leaves in avocado oil to make a skin ointment for this winter. Basically, I made my own knock-off of Burt's Bees cuticle conditioner.  

To do this I dried lemon balm leaves and stuffed as many as possible into a four-ounce Ball jar and covered them with oil. I let it steep for four weeks. Then I strained the oil and discarded the leaves, getting about half a cup of essential oil. Because this is a topical product, I added a bit of purchased lemon oil until I had the fragrance I wanted, and then added one-eighth cup of pure beeswax. Then I set a bowl inside a bowl using hot water to passively melt the beeswax. While this was working, I cleaned out the little mason jar.

When the wax was completely melted, I used a coffee stir stick to stir the mix and carefully poured it back into the jar, sealed it, and let it cool. The result is something that immediately made the dry skin on my hands feel softer. I think the oil is absorbed and the beeswax stays on top to seal it in. It puts a little bit of gloss on natural nails, too. It smells both lemony and "green." I can't wait to use it on my elbows and heels. 

A darker, amber jar might be a better choice to store the product in, but I didn't have any. Nor did I have a tin available. But since I'll store this in a drawer, away from sunlight, my light blue Ball jar should be fine. 

Most recipes for an herbal ointment like this call for olive oil, but I didn't want that scent alongside the lemon. I don't know why grape seed oil won't work with this, either. Any mild oil without much of a scent should work, but you should test it out to make sure you don't have a reaction to it. Same for any herb leaves you use - test them first. The less beeswax you add, the softer the end product, but I wanted a firmer end product, similar to the cuticle conditioner I've used for many years. 

So that's my latest experiment here at the manor. Next up, I'm doing a similar project with calendula. Stay tuned. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

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