Smokey Day Salve, Part One: Sun Infused Herbal Oil

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This hot Oregon summer has been beautiful and fleeting and already my mind is filled with hazy memories of going to the county fair, lazy days on the porch, and... wait... maybe they are just hazy because of the COPIOUS AMOUNT OF WILDFIRE SMOKE THAT IS CONSTANTLY INUNDATING MY BODY?

HELP. ME. 

Melodrama aside and in all sincerity, this summer has been an awful one when it comes to the health of our natural world and our delicate human lungs. The environment is suffering. I sometimes think that the tall, wailing flames are a desperate plea for attention and help, at the expense of thousands of homes, businesses and habitats.

Wow. That took a dark turn VERY quickly. Sorry, reader! I don't wanna be a Debbie Downer (also, sorry to Debbie. She's clearly got it rough).

So, to sum all of this hot-mess up, what do you do when taking a deep breath outside is actually equivalent to smoking a few cigarettes? What do you do when cabin fever sets in and your desire to do something interesting far outweighs your desire to clean up the messes you've already made, do the laundry that's piled up, or prep the meals you need for the week ahead?

I will tell you, dear reader! You make a DIY sun-infused herbal healing salve! Sure, it's wordy, but its smells good, feels good, and may give you super powers. Let's call it Smokey Day Salve, just for a little pizazz. Making a salve from scratch may seem like a random task, but it all stems from my deep down dream to take full advantage of the place where we live, the land and the gifts that it can give us, if tended properly. You see, I have this dream of having the most vibrant home apothecary that your brain can possibly summon-up...

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Picture this: an overflowing herbal garden with blossoms and blooms of every shade of the rainbow, bouquets of herbs hanging by bakers twine and curing in the sun on the front porch, and an abundance of jars lining my shelves, labeled by hand and waiting to be transformed into some magical remedy for coughs, scrapes, and tummy aches. 

What better way to spend a smokey day than by beginning my journey into homemade herbalism? 

Part One of Smokey Day Salve is aaaalll about the oil, reader. Without a well-made herbal-infused oil, a salve is just a tin full of wax. Not at all the look that I am going for. Although I don't have that abundant herbal garden *yet*, I do have several full and happy lavender bushes that have been beckoning me to make use of their potent and healing buds. Past Marti somehow knew that Smokey Day Salve was on the horizon so, bless her, she hung some bunches of lavender to dry! Thank you, Past Marti, from the bottom of Future Marti's heart.

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Beyond my homegrown lavender (Pretentious Level, 100), I'm not currently growing any of the other medicinal herbs that I was interested in turning into salve, so I stopped by Mountain Rose Herbs while on a quick trip to Eugene and picked up a few varieties that fit my needs. Interested in learning more?

COMFREY | As a vulnerary and astringent, Comfrey has been used to heal wounds for centuries by increasing cell production and acting as a demulcent, creating mucilage to coat, soothe and decrease inflammation in wounds.

ROSEHIPS | These beautiful ruby fruits are revered for soothing joint and muscle pain, particularly in cases of rheumatism, where it quickly works to lower inflammation in the cartilage and tissue. However, the Vitamin A is really what draws me to this ingredient, for the increase in moisture content, help with scarring prevention and healing, and correction of dark spots. Extra benefit: itchy skin doesn't stand a chance against this.

ANGELICA | This ancient herb is complex and fascinating in its many uses. Angelica can be used to purify air, decongest unhealthy skin by encouraging a microbial balance, repair damaged lungs, aid in digestive health, and cleanse skin that has been contaminated, which is helpful for hard to clean scrapes.

ST. JOHN'S WORT | Touted as a cure-all for everything from back pain to sunburns, scrapes, and scars, this multi-purpose herb is a favorite among herbalists. Some use in the form of a tincture to relieve headaches and improve focus, whereas salves are better for massaging into sore muscles or tired joints.

LAVENDER | A miracle in the form of a tiny purple bud. I've seen lavender oil heal gnarly burn blisters, have personally used it to sooth sunburns and frequently recommend it to those who need a little relaxation or help with insomnia. Studies have shown that lavender can be detected in blood within five minutes of topical application; it acts fast. Lavender increases cell growth, decreases the appearance of scars and lessens pain from cuts and abrasions. Magic!

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Before we get to the good stuff, here are a few crucial notes to keep in mind during this process:

  1. I am not a medical professional and have no training in herbalism. Please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
  2. This recipe can be made with any number of herbal blends! These are simply the herbs that I had picked up and wanted to try. Feel free to do your own research to pick herbs that would blend well for your particular purposes.
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Now that that's out of the way, let's gather our materials!

SUN-INFUSED HERBAL OIL

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. dried Lavender
  • 1 tbsp. dried Comfrey root 
  • 1 tbsp. dried St. John's Wort
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp. dried Rosehips
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp. dried Angelica root
  • 1 + 1/4 cup Jojoba Oil

SUPPLIES:

  • Glass jar with lid, sterilized
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INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine all of the herbs in your sterilized jar and pour the oil in. The oil should cover the herbs by at least an inch in the jar that you're using. Shake it up so the oil and the herbs are well-combined and then place on the sunniest window ledge you can find.

Here's the hard part... let the oil soak up the sun for FOUR WEEKS. Some recipes call for two weeks but a few more can make all the difference in healing potency, and that's the whole point, right? And what a great way to prove to ourselves that YES, we CAN be patient and, YES, we can have nice things!

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So, bear with me, dear reader. In four short weeks comes Smokey Day Salve, Part Two and, before you know it, you'll be whipping out your little tin of magic salve for every scrape and ache that comes your way.

Until then, stay safe... and patient!