If you’re like me, you’re probably into the local food movement. Eating produce that is in season, finding producers who are nearby rather than having your food shipped halfway around the world. I’m not perfect, but I try to notice where my food comes from.
But what about beauty and health products? Do you have any idea where or how those are made? I certainly don’t.
I try to use ‘natural’ products. But even that can mean having a natural product shipped to you from South America or some other far off location.
Today we’re going to do some beginner’s foraging … and start making a super useful product from it: healing salve for bruises and sprains.
In natural health shops, you’ll probably see Arnica creams and salves for healing bruises. Arnica is brilliant. But it doesn’t grow in England.
What do we have growing abundantly in England that works just as well? Daisies.
Daisies are everywhere. And although they’ve fallen out of fashion in the herbal medicine world, daisies were used for centuries as bruise healers.
We’re going to make a daisy salve for bruises. Salves are one of the easiest herbal remedy preparations to make because it’s just oil and beeswax – no fancy ingredients or equipment. But this week we’re just going to collect the daisies and start infusing the oil.
If you have kids, this would be a great project to do together. They’ll enjoy collecting the daisies, and once you have the finished salve, I’m guessing they’re the ones who would use the salve most often for bruises!
Note: As always, use common sense with this project. If you or your kids are allergic to the daisy family, this isn’t the project for you! Always test any of your homemade projects on a small patch of your inner arm and wait 24 hours to see if you have any reaction before proceeding, just in case!
Daisies (just the flower heads)
Oil (I used sweet almond oil, but olive oil or sunflower oil will work well too)
A jar with a lid, a size that can hold the daisies
Collect some daisies! Ideally two big handfuls, but don’t stress out about it.
Back at home, get a clean jar that’s about the same size as your amount of daisies. Ideally you want the daisies and oil to fill the jar, but again, don’t stress out about this. Just use whatever jar you have.
Don’t wash the daisies first!! Any moisture in the jar might lead to mold growing (not good!), so they need to be really dry. Put the daisies in the jar. Push down the daisies. Then pour on enough oil to cover them by about 1/2″ inch. Cover the jar and leave it in a sunny window for 2 weeks. It’s really important that the oil covers ALL of the daisies, because if some are exposed to air, they again might grow mold (still not good!). In this picture below I need to add even more oil to cover the daisies.
That’s it! After 2 weeks, strain out the daisies. If you’re feeling ambitious and there are more daisies in bloom, you can go collect more daisies and put them into the same oil and infuse for another 2 weeks. This makes a double-strong oil. But don’t stress about it. In an upcoming post I’ll show you how to do the express infusion version over a double boiler in case you don’t want to wait two weeks to finish the project!
Ok campers, thanks for your patience, it’s finally time to turn that daisy-infused oil into something useful!
Today we’re going to make a daisy salve for bumps & bruises. Why daisies? First of all, they’re everywhere this time of year! And they’re a vintage kitchen remedy for bruises and sprains. According to my old books, daisies are good for sprains, bruises, aches & pains. Daisies are anti-inflammatory, a wound-healer, and reduce pain. In modern life, I think this salve would be brilliant for bruises, sports injuries, sore muscles, arthritis and of course dry skin! Just please don’t apply on broken skin. This salve is for closed wounds and bruises etc.
Here’s the recipe for daisy infused oil, if you haven’t made it already. Either make it following the traditional method, or put your daisies and oil in a bain marie and heat very gently for 1 hour. Then strain out the daisies.
When straining out the daisies, really squeeze them to get every drop of oil out. The best way to do this is with your hands. Just get your hands in there and squeeze all the oil out! It’s fun.
If you want to, you can now double-infuse your oil. This gives the oil more daisy-goodness (and therefore, more bruise-healing power). But it’s up to you. Just take the strained oil, put in a new handful of daisies, and infuse again (in the sun or in a bain marie).
I decided to double-infuse my daisy oil, so I did the second infusion in a bain marie just before making the salve.
English Daisy Salve
lavender essential oil
Assorted pots or containers for the finished salve
1) Measure your daisy-infused oil.
2) Math time! (Don’t run away. It’s easy, I promise.) Work out the proportions of oil and wax needed. For every 4 parts oil, you need 1 part beeswax. So, for example, if you have 1 c. of daisy oil you need 1/4c. of beeswax. I used 200ml of oil and 50 ml of beeswax.
3) In a bain marie, combine the daisy oil and beeswax. Heat gently and stir until completely melted.
4) Consistency test – We need to check how hard the finished salve will be. There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s a personal preference. It could be soft and slightly oily, or set like a lip balm, or very hard and waxy. Think about how you’ll use it. I carry mine in my handbag, so I like it to set quite firm … but so that it will still melt when I rub my finger over the salve.
Do the consistency check by taking a small spoonful of the liquid, and placing it in the freezer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from freezer and check the consistency with your fingers. If it’s too hard, add more oil. If it’s too soft, add more beeswax.
5) Remove from heat. Add 10 drops lavender essential oil (amount for 1c. of daisy oil).
6) Pour into clean pots, and let them cool. If you want a smooth surface on your salve, don’t touch the pots while they’re cooling! Once cool, cover tightly. Daisy salve should last at least one year or more.
How to use:
I love my daisy salve! I split mine between a bigger jar for home, and several smaller containers to keep in my handbag. I use it for everything. Just rub some onto your fingers and then onto the affected area. I use my daisy salve for bruises, sprains, sore muscles … cuticle moisturizer and sometimes a lip balm.
Do not apply to broken skin. Obviously do not use if you are allergic to daisies! With any homemade product, it’s always a good idea to do a small patch test on your inner arm before using it regularly.