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DIY Plantain Salve

There is a true joy in being able to make your own homemade remedies.  Some of these perform, as well as, or better than the commercial products out there.  Making herbal salves is one of the easiest processes to master.  With a little help from the honey bees – in the form of beeswax, you can make your own diy plantain salve.

Plantain Salve for Bug Bites

Homemade plantain salve in tin with beeswax and plants.

Plantains are valuable plants that are used in many natural home remedies. To many of us, this plant may be viewed as a weed.  For years, I though of it as such.  

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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 by chewing up leaves (mixing in saliva and applying it as a poultice to the sting – 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.

Two varieties of plantain weeds broadleaf and narrow leaf.

What is Plantain?

Some people say it is an invasive weed – others insist it is an edible wild food and medicinal herb.  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 types of plantain and either can be used for this plantain salve recipe

  • broadleaf
  • narrowleaf

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.

Materials

One of the beauties of this recipe is that you only need a few ingredients and no special tools.

  • plantain leaves
  • olive oil
  • beeswax

Plantain leaves – Also, harvest in areas that are free of chemicals such as pesticide or herbicides.  Simply pull or cut leaves off the plant.  You can refrigerate for a day or two if you must.

Olive Oil – Approximately 1 1/2 cup of olive oil is needed. Enough to cover the plantain leaves that you will harvest.

Beeswax – You only need a small amount of beeswax for this salve recipe but do be sure that the wax is cleaned.

Making the Infused 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.

Using metal strainer to remove plantain leaves from infused oil.

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.

Basic materials for making salve plantain oil, beeswax and tin.
Tin of homemade plantain salve.

Plantain Salve Recipe

Charlotte Anderson @ Carolina Honeybees, LLC
Make your own healing, herbal salve using plantain leaves, beeswax and olive oil. This salve is great for minor cuts and insect bites.
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Supplies
 

  • 1 cup plantain infused oil
  • 1 ounce beeswax
  • 5 drops vitamin E oil (optional)
  • 1 piece Tin or small jars to hold 6oz of product

Instructions
 

  • 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.
    Melting beeswax in double boiler.
  • 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.
    Adding plantain oil to beeswax.
  • 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!
    Pouring hot salve into metal tins.

Notes

Take care when heating beeswax and oils – do not over heat.
Strain all green plant material out of your infused oil before using for salve recipe.
 
Learn more about bees and using products from the hive!Join me on Instagram – @carolina_honeybees

Uses

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.

Simple diy products you can make at home include: salve made with calendula and this honey burn salve. All are great to have on hand in case of an emergency.

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