I am not sure I can adequately describe how utterly incredible this silky smooth, soft intoxicating rose salve smells, but I will try. It’s rose-like, yes, but it’s more than that. Deep and sweet, but not cloying… more of a rich sweetness. There’s also something really complex and warm going on; something a bit bewitching that will have you going for whiffs of your hands whenever you can. I’ve been finding I’ll get distracted by it—I’ll catch a whiff of it while I’m working on something else, and the scent will completely pull me out of whatever I’m doing for a sort of “what is that… oh yeahhh…” kind of moment. It’s awesome, and you should make some.
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This lovely rose salve is a further experiment with cera bellina, a super cool modified beeswax that creates oil gels. I blended it with three light, fast-absorbing oils to create a soft, gel-like salve that leaves skin soft, but not greasy. The bulk of the salve is fractionated coconut oil, which is coconut oil that’s been modified to remove some of the fatty acids, creating an oil that’s liquid and even lighter than coconut oil. It doesn’t smell anything like coconuts (or anything, really), either, which is great in this salve as it really lets the rose and essential oils shine.
I added some dry-touch mango butter and lightweight pomegranate oil to round out the oil base; pomegranate oil is great for helping soothe skin and promote regeneration—all good things! If you don’t have pomegranate oil you could just use more fractionated coconut oil, or you could try another fancier type oil like argan or meadowfoam seed.
The awesome rose scent in this salve comes from rose wax, which is easily my favourite way to add a delightful rose scent without dropping a small fortune on rose essential oil. Rose wax is a soft wax, with a consistency similar to shea butter, and it is crazy potent in the scent department—for those reasons, it makes an utterly rubbish alternative for other waxes (a substitution I’m often asked about), but it makes a great alternative to rose essential oil!
I rounded of the rose scent with some sweet, vanilla-like benzoin and some rich, intoxicating labdanum. When it comes to labdanum, there are no alternatives; it is the most unique, beguiling essential oil I’ve ever come across. Looking for an alternative to it is like looking for an alternative to the sensation of sunshine on your face on a summer day at the beach… nothing I’ve ever tried even compares! If you don’t have it, benzoin (vanilla) and rose is lovely on its own, and you can also brainstorm up some other scents you enjoy with rose. A sun-safe citrus scent (like litsea cubeba) would be a good choice.
And last but not least—a touch of pink. This part is obviously totally optional as it’s pure aesthetics, but I quite like it. I used two drops of liquid carmine dye, but you could use a wee bit of powdered carmine or a pink mica instead. You’ll stir that in towards the end, and once the salve has thickened up, you’re done! Definitely give this one a go if you’re a rose lover—this Intoxicating Rose Salve definitely lives up to its name 😉
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Intoxicating Rose Salve
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.
Weigh the cera bellina, mango butter, fractionated coconut oil, pomegranate oil, rose wax, and vitamin E oil into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through (this will take 20–30 minutes).
Once everything has melted, remove the measuring cup from the heat and dry the outside of it off with a dish towel. Set the measuring cup on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture to combine everything.
Stir in the essential oils and pink colourant (carmine/mica). Remove the insulating towel and continue stirring the salve somewhat frequently as it cools—check out the video to see what I did. At the start you’ll be able to leave it for five minutes or so between stirs, but as it starts to noticeable thicken, stir it more frequently. This will give us that lovely thick, creamy, gel-like consistency we want.
Once the salve has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a tin—something around 45mL/1.5 ounces would be a good choice. 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.