Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Herbal Salves, Oils, Baths and Balms {Otherwise known as Potionmaking}


 Over the last few weeks we have been doing what my children refer to as "potion making."
The pictures below have been gathered over the last couple of years of  herbal adventuring.

We gather and Identify herbs from our little herb patch before putting into posies to dry 
upside down in a cool, dark cupboard.

Once dry we made jars of Chamomile and Mint tea to store.

Camomile is good for soothing tummies and has naturally calming properties.

Mint is invigorating and a perfect mid morning pick me up.

We infused some olive oil with Sage, Lemon balm and Rosemary by heating it slowly with the herb before bottling. This oil can be used for cooking with or combined with other ingredients such as Beeswax, Shea butter, Coconut oil and Essential oil to make therapeutic balms, and salves.

Here is our Rosemary infused Olive Oil. 

 Rosemary is shrouded in history and folklore. From ancient Greece through the European Middle Ages, rosemary was thought to possess the power to protect against evil spirits. Sprigs were placed under pillows or burned as incense to ward off evil demons and prevent bad dreams.

Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. 
However, it is wise to avoid if pregnant as high doses have been linked to miscarriage.

We made Lavender oil by covering our dried lavender with 80% proof white vodka and sealing it for 6 weeks in  a cool, dark drawer. It was stirred daily and after six weeks we removed the lid and covered the jar with muslin. This allowed the excess liquid to evaporate. It took about a week for the smell of alcohol to dissipate leaving the concentrated plant extract and oil. You must use alcohol that is at least 80% proof for this but not methylated spirits. Vodka works very well. 
As you can imagine this little concoction is for external use only!

Beautiful debris.


A few drops of this Lavender oil can be added to baths or bath salts to soothe fractious nerves and aid restful sleep.

Soon it will be time for sloes again! Last year we made sloe gin. You must pierce each and every sloe berry so that they can infuse with the liquor and large quantities of sugar. We've found that sloe gin makes a very well received Christmas gift and a welcome, warming tipple for Winter visitors.
We use the recipe from An Illustrated Country Year.

We managed to dry Rose petals as well as Lavender.

Rose petals have natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial proprieties which make them good for acne prone skin.
If you crush rose petals between your fingers you can feel the natural, fragrant oils seep out. These oils are naturally moisturizing and slightly astringent so they work to both hydrate and tone.

The scent of Rose is deeply nostalgic. Indeed, the petals are a staple in Ayurvedic medicine to detoxify and calm.


The dried flowers were mixed in layers of Epsom salt, sprinklings of bicarbonate of soda and our homemade lemon balm and lavender oils for warming scented Winter baths.

We also blended some of the dried rose petals in and mixed them to a paste with a couple of tablespoons of cold pressed olive oil and some Bergamot essential oil. Mixing the paste with a couple of cups of Epsom salts makes a lovely, fragrant body scrub.

Epsom Salts are a wonderful, natural source of Magnesium and can help balance the PH. Salts can also help soothe muscular aches and pains.

To make a Winter Salve perfect for chapped hands, feet and lips, we carefully melted some Beeswax using a wax burner. We shredded our wax but will probably use pellets next time as the shredded wax took ages to melt.

We mixed in some Shea Butter and Coconut Oil until we achieved a soft consistency and the balm became a soft buttery colour.

 Then we added a couple of tablespoon of Lemon Balm infused Olive oil. And some drops of essential oil.

 Lemon Balm was dedicated to the goddess Diana, and used medicinally by the Greeks some 2,000 years ago. 

Research has shown that the plant contains polyphenols which can help to sooth cold sores. At least part of this effect is due to antiviral properties of caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid, which are contained in lemon balm. This makes it perfect for use in salves and balms. 

The bright lemony yellow foliage is also very pretty and fragrant in the garden.

This page has lots of wonderful information on the properties and uses of herbs.

And Here is a wonderful resource of Herbs and their properties.

(Discalimer) Herbs are powerful.  Please consult a local herbalist for any contraindications before making and using herbal remedies.


  1. My goodness what a wonderful post. Perhaps I'll try to plant an herb garden next spring with this in mind! Thank you! Have a grand day!

  2. Much work... Making a lovely photo shoot op, though... And your home must have smelled heavenly.

    And your lovely girls are learning, at their Mama's knee, as it were. Passing down information, as has been done, for years and years and years and years. Beautiful...

    Gentle hugs,

  3. So much beauty and healing in this post :) We love making potions too, and the little man loves joining in.

  4. So much beauty here, looks like such a wonderful process. I think you used all my very favorites too! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Such a fascinating post, I learned a few things, thank you! The other night my daughter (17) had a bath with Epsom salts and some mint leaves. She immediately felt very emotional and tearful for no reason at all, and we wondered whether the salts or the mint (or the combination?) had had that effect on her, perhaps on her teenage hormones?

    1. I have also found the salt baths effect me Christine. I often feel extremely tired after a soak with Epsom salts. I'll make sure I have time to lie down after bathing. When I get up I feel really refreshed and cleansed.
      Often when the girls have a fever, I'll make them a diluted room temp salt bath and add the herbs Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (like the song) I don't know if it is the wonderful smell that works it's magic or the combination of salts and herbs but it always seems to pick them up and bring their temperature down.
      If the salts can have a physical effect they very well may also have an effect on the emotions too.
      Hope your lovely girls is feeling better today :) xx

  6. oh how i love potion making ;)
    what a lovely post! thank you for sharing xxx

  7. Hi Suzy Mae, this is such an interesting and educational post! I've always wanted to try making some of these things, especially infused oils. I tried a lotion bar once at a farmer's market and I thought it was very nice but they were expensive. I would love to make them myself someday. Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful tips and ideas. I hope you're having a good week.

  8. so much magic in this post! i loved all your tips, as i don't have most of them at home, i'll start with mint and lavender this year, and take a look at the link. thanks for sharing all this information about your magic potions!

  9. Hi Suze:
    love it too much !!!!!
    I invite you to visite my blog;


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