This healing herbal calamine salve is designed for all kinds of skin irritation—everything from bug bites to diaper rash. It combines soothing calamine (zinc oxide + ferric oxide [aka red iron oxide]) with a rich base of herb infused sunflower seed oil and shea butter to help combat itch and boost healing. Booyah.
The base of this salve is a blend of vitamin E oil and linoleic acid rich sunflower seed oil, and rich shea butter. Linoleic acid has been found to be helpful for troubled skin, helping to boost healing (source & another), and vitamin E oil is a powerful antioxidant that also helps skin heal. I’ve found shea butter to be utterly brilliant for dry, irritated skin—especially eczema. My dad constantly has a kilo of the stuff around ever since I’ve introduced him to it, and readers tell me it’s done wonders for their eczema (especially on small children).
In this lovely base I’ve infused three healing herbs; sunny calendula, anti-inflammatory arnica, and reparative comfrey. If you want to use this salve on babies, when pregnant, or on broken skin you should drop the arnica, but the three together make a lovely healing blend of herbs.
All this is thickened up with beeswax and enriched with extra vitamin E oil (which also helps extend the life of the salve). And then to calamine-ize it with zinc oxide and red iron oxide; these insoluble powders stir into the base fairly easily, leaving you with a soft pink salve.
I was having a bit of a spazzy day when I made this and ended up splattering pink salve all over the place and dumping the lumpiest blobs of salve into the tin (and everywhere else). You guys seem to love “imperfect pour” photos, so here you go! (Anyhow, I used a hairdryer to get the top all pretty and photo worthy, and it worked beautifully.)
So, with spring around the corner (fingers crossed!) you should definitely whip up a batch of this healing herbal calamine salve. Your bug bites will thank you 🙂
Healing Herbal Calamine Salve
1 tsp dried calendula petals
1 tsp dried arnica flowers
1 tsp dried comfrey leaf
Weigh the sunflower seed oil and shea butter out into a heat resistant glass measuring cup and add the herbs. Place the measuring cup in a small saucepan with about an inch (3cm) of barely simmering water and heat through to melt and infuse, leaving the mixture to infuse for at least twenty minutes (I curled my hair while I let my herbs infuse). You could pop the herbs in a disposable paper tea bag, but I elected not to (choosing to send it all through a sieve later) as there wasn’t much in the way of oils to submerge the bag into.
If you happen to have jars of pre-steeped liquid oils with these herbs, you can absolutely use a blend of those instead; you’ll just need 20g (0.7oz) total of those liquid oils rather than the 30g (1.06oz) as you won’t lose any of them to the steeping process. So, that’d be 20g (0.7oz) herb steeped oils + 20g (0.7oz) shea butter, skip the herbs, and proceed with adding the zinc/beeswax/vitamin E.
Once the herbs have infused into the oils for a while, strain out the herbs, by pouring the mixture through a sieve, pressing the herbs to squeeze out as much oil as possible before discarding the spent herbs. Weigh the remaining infused oil/shea butter mixture and add extra sunflower seed oil to reach a total of 40g (1.41oz). Add the zinc oxide, beeswax, and vitamin E oil, and then melt everything together.
When the beeswax has melted, stir everything to combine, taking care to break up any clumps of zinc oxide by smearing your spatula against the bottom and sides of your container. Now it’s time for the ferric oxide (aka red iron oxide)—add it and stir it in.
Once everything is relatively well blended and the mixture has cooled enough that it’s thickened a bit so the powders won’t settle out, pour it into a 60mL (2oz) tin or jar and let it set up before using. Enjoy your Healing Herbal Calamine Salve!