Multipurpose Beeswax Salve
I started playing around with making salves after we got our first small beeswax harvest. I like to keep the ingredients high quality but relatively simple, the consistency of the salve is really important to me and I need something with a decent shelf life (because we have no functional fridge).
After much experimentation this is the base recipe that I am happy with. It is wonderful on my over-worked hands, it’s great as a lip balm, my sister has used it on her 9 month old and had great success with clearing up dribble rash and nappy rash, it’s very soothing on the face after a day in the sun or wind and even Rohan feels it isn’t too girly for him to use.
HUMPY CREEK MULTIPURPOSE SALVE
- 25g beeswax
- 25g coconut oil
- 50g any other skin-friendly oil that’s liquid at room temp (I like to use olive oil, or a mix of olive and apricot kernel oil)
- 8 drops vitamin E oil
- Gently melt the beeswax in a double boiler
- Add in the coconut oil and melt with the beeswax
- Remove the melted coconut oil and beeswax from the heat
- Let it cool a bit (I leave it for about 5 mins or so)
- Add in the other oil, it will cause the coconut oil and beeswax mix to solidify in places, just stir until it dissolves – I add the other oil in at this stage so that it isn’t heated too much
- Leave the mixture until you notice it starting to solidify around the edges, add in the vitamin E oil
- Stir with a fork or whisk continuously while it cools so that the ingredients remain evenly mixed and you get a beautiful silky texture
A Note on Heating Oils
Most recipes I’ve read that have a similar base to this salve (beeswax, coconut oil and an oil that’s liquid at room temp) suggest heating beeswax and all oils at the same time. Coconut oil is great for cooking and heat-stable. Oils that are liquid at room temp, like olive oil, aren’t usually heat-stable and are susceptible to oxidative damage when heated (that is, heat will speed up rancidification).
So, with the salve I follow the same rules as I do for cooking: coconut oil is fine to heat, but the olive or other oils should only be added when the mixture has cooled a fair bit. Aside from anything else this will help prolong the shelf life, which is dictated by how fast the oils in the salve go rancid.
At the moment I’m guestimating when the mixture is cool enough to add the olive oil just by feeling the outside of the jug I heat heat the beeswax and coconut oil in, but I do plan to get a candy thermometer soon to be bit more precise with the method (and certain that I’m not over-heating anything).
This salve should last 6 or more months out of the fridge even without any preservatives in it; there is no water in the recipe and if the olive oil has been minimally heated it shouldn’t go rancid too quickly, the vitamin E oil also acts as an antioxidant to help delay the olive oil going rancid.
In the fridge it should last up to a few years.
The above recipe is for a 100g batch, which is quite a lot so if you’re only planning to use it in small amounts or infrequently it’s best to either keep it in the fridge or make smaller batches.
There are so many different things you can add to this base recipe. I have tried different essential oils and essential oil blends (10-20 drops added when the vitamin E is put in), a combination of spearmint and eucalyptus has been popular among kettlebell lifters for some reason!
In the last batch I added a large teaspoon of honey and mixed it in once the entire batch was semi-solid (so as to avoid heating the honey, want to keep all the goodies intact) – I love this lot with the honey but not sure if the small water content in the honey will shorten the shelf life, perhaps the anitmicrobial activity of the honey will offset that and help preserve the salve. I will provide updates on how this version of the salve holds up.
In one lot I used lemon pressed olive oil, just because we had some in the cupboard, and really liked the smell of the salve. I’ve also read a lot about people using oil that has been infused with various medicinal herbs in their salves, which is definitely something to try in the future.
What I really love about this very basic salve is that in one jar I have something that is both gentle enough and powerful enough to use on any dry skin on my body – no more having separate jars of stuff for face, eyes, lips, hands etc.
And of course it’s not only satisfying to make your own cosmetics from scratch, it also means you know exactly what’s in them: if it’s safe to eat it’s probably going to be safe to slather on your skin!