Today we’re creating something simple—an aromatic, creamy salve with an intoxicating essential oil blend designed to ground and calm. It’s a great DIY for beginners, with a relatively short ingredient list of simple, plant-based ingredients. I’m loving both applying this salve to my hands and feet, but also just whiffing it out of the tin for a bit of an aromatherapy break in my day.
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The base of this salve is a simple blend of olive oil and vegan berry fruit wax. This is roughly a 1:4.5 ratio, and it creates a beautiful oil gel with soft, ointment-y peaks. I’m finding the consistency reminiscent of cera bellina, though perhaps a bit less waxy, and also vegan!
I’m quite proud of the essential oil blend; it brings together a few of my favourite essential oils and achieves something I’ve been trying to do for ages—use ylang ylang in something I actually like. My past experiences with this famous essential oil have stunk, frankly. I’m not crazy about the scent out of the bottle, and I quickly found it tends to overwhelm scent blends. That said, I’ve smelled some lovely products that did use it, and I loved those scent blends, so I was pretty sure the problem was my usage of it rather than the essential oil itself. The trick was to use a very light hand; at 0.05% I find it lends a lovely sweetness and depth to the blend without overpowering it.
The blend also prominently features dark patchouli and lavender. I love patchouli, but I seem to forget about it fairly frequently, meaning I’ve been rekindling our fragrant love affair once or twice a year since 2011 or so. In this blend, I’ve balanced it with calming lavender and sweet, intoxicating benzoin. I find the first impressions of the scent blend are a beautifully mingled blend of lavender and patchouli; I’m not entirely sure what I’m smelling at first, but it’s deep and sweet. The benzoin edges in quickly with its sweet vanilla-y goodness, and the ylang-ylang dances across at the end, bringing some exotic depth without overpowering the blend.
Patchouli is said to be grounding and balancing, while lavender is calming and soothing. Benzoin is said to be relaxing, while ylang-ylang is supposed to help with stress and anxiety. With the business and stress of autumn setting in, this blend seemed very timely. I also find its warmth and complexity to be well suited to this time of change and shifting seasons. I hope you enjoy this fragrant salve as much as I do!
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Creamy Autumn Grounding Salve
Cool down phase
0.4g | 0.5% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.16g | 0.2% dark patchouli essential oil
0.4g | 0.5% lavender essential oil
0.24g | 0.3% benzoin resinoid
0.04g | 0.05% ylang ylang essential oil
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dish towel. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate and leave to cool.
When the salve is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of salve on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish and weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Add a scoop of the soft salve to the dish, stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of salve. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
That’s it! Package up your salve in a tin or two and you’re done. I used some white metal tins from YellowBee; an 80g batch will fill one 60g tin and one 30g (1.06oz) tin.To use, smooth it over dry skin for a skin-softening aromatherapy treat. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this salve is 100% oil based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 80g. Be aware that scaling the formula down much will make it hard to weigh out the essential oils; at 80g we barely need 2 drops of ylang-ylang essential oil.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You can use a different liquid oil; I’d choose something with a fast to average absorption speed.
- I don’t recommend substituting the berry wax. If you’re going to, cera bellina would be the best choice. Review this guide to get an idea of how to adjust the percentages to get a similar consistency.
- You can use a different essential oil blend, but the essential oil blend is a really big part of this project so if you do something else you’re making a pretty different product.