If you enjoy harnessing the healing power of nature, creating homemade salves is a project you should try. Some of the best materials to use are plants that many consider weeds. For instance, the leaves of the simple plantain plant can be used to make a rich infused oil. This oil combined with beeswax creates a versatile DIY plantain salve or balm that can be used in many ways.
Renown for its moisturizing properties, the use of beeswax in making lotions, potions and balms is common place. The waxy texture creates a protective barrier on your skin. If you have never tried it, now is the time. Making herbal salves is one of the easiest processes to master.
Why Plantain Salve for Bug Bites
There are many varieties of plantains that are all members of the Plantaginaceae family. To many of us, this plant may be viewed as a weed. For years, I though of it as such.
But, herbalists recognize the impressive herbal benefits of plantain. The leaves of the plant have healing oils that are good for minor cuts or insect bites.
Many beekeepers have been known to make a poultice remedy for bee sting pain. They chew up the leaves (mixing in saliva and apply it to the sting site– covered with a bandage).
Let me personally say – I don’t think it tastes very good this way! Yuck, but it does help soothe the stings symptoms.
One of the beauties of this recipe is that you only need a few ingredients and no special tools.
- plantain leaves
- olive oil
What is plantain? Some people say it is an invasive weed – others insist it is an edible wild food and medicinal herb. In a way both are right.
Plantain grows well in many locations. You will find it in the city growing through the cracks in the sidewalks or around the edges of building. It also does well along roadsides, across farmlands and in garden spots.
Common plantain is a low growing plant. It grows, blooms in late Spring and then disappears during Winter. In fact, it becomes more difficult to find fresh plantain as the Summer progresses.
There are two main types of plantain and either can be used for this plantain salve recipe.
Broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) has a rosette shape with broad thick leaves with noticeable veins. When bloom time arrives, greenish brown flowers appear on a tall (9-10”) flower stalk.
Narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is another common variety and is sometimes called English plantain.
It has narrower, longer leaves but does have the deep veining. Similar flowers appear on tall stakes from 4-15” tall.
This time I am using the narrow variety. When you are collecting plants, always be 100% sure of identification. If you have any doubt, ask your local extension or garden center for positive identification.
Gather Leaves Harvest leaves in areas that are free of chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides. Simply pull or cut leaves off the plant. You can refrigerate them for a day or two if you must.
You will need a small amount of olive oil. Yes you might use a different oil such as coconut but most of the people I know just use Olive oil. Approximately 1 1/2 cup of olive oil is needed. This is enough to cover the leaves that you will harvest.
Beeswax is one of the most versatile products from the beehive. You only need a small amount of beeswax for this salve recipe-but do be sure that the beeswax is clean. If you purchase beeswax pellets, it is ready to use.
Making the Infused Plantain Oil
There are two methods for making plantain infused oil. The slow method involves putting dried leaves in a jar – cover with olive oil and leave them to sit in a sunny windowsill.
This takes 4-6 weeks. Fresh leaves can not be used in this way as the moisture in the green leaves will cause spoilage.
For the faster method, fresh leaves will be steeped in the oil for 10-12 hours over low heat. This is the easiest method even though it involves a little bit of time and supervision. I make my dandelion salve in much the same way. You could make both at the same time!
1. Gather clean leaves, rinse with water to remove any dirt and let dry.
2. Cut the leaves into inch-sized pieces to allow more surface area for the oils to infuse. Fill a pint jar about 3/4 full.
3. Add enough olive oil to just cover the amount of leaves in the jar.
4. Use a hot water bath to heat the oil. Do not boil – we only want the oil to become very warm. This can be accomplished by heating the water – allowing it to cool down and then heating it again.
I do this for about 8 – 10 hours – just keeping the oil very warm. This is similar to how we decrystallize honey in a jar.
5. After the time has passed, let the infused oil cool down a bit. Then, use a strainer to remove the leaf material. Now, you have plantain infused oil to use for salve making.
Putting it All Together
Once the infused plantain oil is ready, it is simply a matter of combining all the ingredients and pouring it into a container.
- Gently warm the oil in a double boiler set up
- add the beeswax
- add a few drops of Vit E oil (optional)
- when all is melted and combined pour into container
How to Use
Now you have a homemade herbal salve that is great for bug bites, minor scrapes or irritated skin. The soothing anti-inflammatory properties in the infused oil should offer some relief.
This homeopathic medicine is a wonderful addition to your home first aid kit. Simply apply a light coat of salve to minor wounds, rashes, mosquito bites or bee stings – apply a light bandage if needed.
And if you love natural products – make your own natural vapor rub to ease the congestion of common colds etc.
It is very easy to make a Vaseline type product with this tutorial on how to make petroleum jelly. Great for simple rashes and minor cuts and scrapes.
*Disclaimer – This information is provided for entertainment only. Anyone can be allergic to anything. Create with care and address any concerns with your medical professional.
Plantain Salve Recipe
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- Use a double boiler insert or similar method to melt your beeswax. Take it slow and easy – don’t get the wax any hotter than it needs to be.
- Add one cup of infused plantain oil and stir with a wooden skewer or similar. Stir gently until all is blended. Turn off heat. You can add a few drops of Vitamin E oil if you wish – but this is optional.
- Pour into desired container and allow to cool and set. Label your container in some way – it doesn’t have to be fancy. That’ it!