Podcast 154: Enhancing Herbal Salves with Tinctures

In this episode we share a simple technique for enhancing herbal salves with tinctures. Lots of herbalists like to put essential oils in their salves, and we’re no exception – but we also want to have other methods for increasing potency. Essential oils can be costly, and they have sustainability issues in a lot of cases.

Combining alcohol extracts (herbal tinctures) with oil extracts is a great way to maximize constituent availability in your finished product. We have two methods for you today. One method involves combining pre-made salves & tinctures to bring their powers together. The other method is a two-step extraction process to make sure you get the full range of constituents from a given herb. Both are easy and can be done right at home!

You’ll find a mini crockpot super helpful for this work. They’re handy and not too expensive.

Herbs discussed include: cayenne, solomon’s seal, kava, st john’s wort.

Not feeling confident about your basic herbal salve-making abilities, let alone powered-up salves like these? Our Herbal Medicine-Making course has dozens of methods for you to explore! Learn to make teas, tinctures, poultices, salves, liniments, spice blends, and much more. This self-paced online video course includes access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions so you can connect with us directly!

As always, please subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen, so others can find it more easily. Thank you!!

Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.

This episode was sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We thank them for their support!


Episode Transcript

Katja (00:02):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:02):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:02):
And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts

Ryn (00:24):
And on the internet everywhere thanks to the power of the podcast. Yeah. All right. Well, this week we’re going to be doing a medicine making episode.

Katja (00:32):
Yeah. I’m pretty excited about this actually, because we are currently actually brewing one of the salves that we’re going to talk about today. And the salve that we’re making is a high potency cayenne salve. There’s other stuff in it. We’re going to talk about it. But one of the keys here is that it’s got a lot of cayenne in it. So it’s a very warming salve. And it’s a salve that I love for back aches. And I’ve been out of it for a while. And then I like twisted my back and I was like, how can I be out of my favorite salve for a backache when I twisted my back? And so, now I’m making a fresh batch of this really strong cayenne salve. And we thought we would tell you how we’re doing it, because it’s a little different than the usual way that you make a salve.

Ryn (01:23):
Yeah. Time to make some more. So that’s going to be our topic. But before that, let’s remind you that we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Katja (01:31):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States, so these discussions are for educational purposes only.

Ryn (01:43):
And we want to remind you that good health doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Good health doesn’t exist as an objective standard. It’s influenced by your individual needs, your experiences, and goals. So we’re not trying to present some kind of dogmatic right way that you should adhere to.

Katja (01:58):
Everybody’s body is different. So the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but we hope that they’ll give you some good information to think about And some ideas to research further.

Ryn (02:09):
Finding your way to better health is both your right and your own personal responsibility. This doesn’t mean you’re alone on the journey, but it does mean that the final decision when considering any course of action, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, is always yours to make.

Katja (02:24):
Yeah. You know, also before we jump in, I just want to take a moment to really appreciate Mountain Rose Herbs for sponsoring our podcast. And over the last few episodes, we’ve been talking about ways that Mountain Rose Herbs supports herbal education in this country.

Ryn (02:41):
Like the podcasts.

Katja (02:42):
Like this podcast, but not just that. One of the ways that they do it is by giving student discounts. So for example, they give students enrolled in our family herbalist, community herbalist, and clinical herbalist programs, as well as the emergent responder program. They give those students a 10% discount on every single thing. But also they have always made sure to stock, not just the herbs, but also all the stuff that herb students need.

Ryn (03:10):
Yeah, today we’re talking about salves and so, you know, you don’t just need your herbs, but you also need some oils and some beeswax and those cute little round tins and whatever else. And Mountain Rose has all of them. So you don’t have to kind of search around to 10 different websites. And plus, you know, if you have a student discount, you get 10% off your supplies, too.

Katja (03:30):
Yeah. So if you want to try making the salves that we’re talking about today, let’s say you want to make a salve that’s powered up with cayenne, but you don’t have any salves that you can start with, or you don’t even have cayenne tincture to work with. And you’re really excited to try this now and not later. Just head over to MountainRoseherbs.com. They’ve got a nice arnica – St. John’s wort salve that you could use as your base. They’ve got a really good, potent cayenne tincture. And they have cute tins too.

Ryn (04:00):
Check them out. MountainRoseherbs.com. Yeah. Okay. On with the show. So yeah, today we’re talking about powering up herbal salves using tinctures,

Katja (04:10):
Right. Using tinctures. And the key here is, you know, a lot of times, if people want to make one of those icy hot style salves, they will do that by adding essential oils to their salve. Often something like camphor or menthol.

Ryn (04:29):
Yeah. Or sometimes even like crystals of menthol that you can stir into things.

Katja (04:35):
And I don’t want to imply that there is anything wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with that. And I’ve worked with salves that have camphor in them too. You know, that’s what tiger balm is.

Ryn (04:46):
Yeah. Camper cinnamon, ginger, a whole bunch of clove. There’s a bunch of powerful, essential oils in that product.

Considerations about Essential Oils in Salves

Katja (04:54):
But there’s two reasons that I don’t want to put essential oils into my salve, and maybe not zero essential oils. But anyway, two things that are important to me. And the first is a sustainability issue. In order to make even just one drop of essential oil, you need an entire basket, like a really big basket full of plants. So if you are thinking about making your own stuff totally from scratch, from the things that you produce yourself, you can grow yourself, it’s just not practical to work with essential oils. Because while you absolutely can make essential oils at home, it is not a high yield operation.

Ryn (05:42):
Yeah. You know, if you’ve got a copper still at home, or even like a glass chemists set up or whatever, you can go out all day. You can harvest a bushel of plant material, and you could end up with four or five drops of your essential oil if you’re lucky.

Katja (05:58):
Yeah. If it’s yarrow or something, it might only be one drop. Right. so when you work with essential oils you are using a lot of plant matter to get a very small amount of product in the end. Now it’s not a total waste, because you also end up with this amazingly beautiful hydrosol. And frankly, I’m more interested in working with a still to get the beautiful hydrosol than I actually am to get the essential oil, because I’m really into a hydrosol. That’s the water that’s left after you distill out the volatile oil. But the other problem with essential… eh, It’s not a problem. The other, maybe, limitation with the essential oils is that they’re fractional. They’re not complete. So you can’t get all of the actions of the plants that you’re working with just from the essential oils. And in the case of cayenne in particular, that’s actually going to be really relevant.

Ryn (07:01):
Yeah. You know, with cayenne we’re really interested in capsaicin. That’s kind of the most famous fiery hot stimulating constituent in the peppers. And that one is not going to be turning up in an essential oil of cayenne. I haven’t actually seen one of those.

Katja (07:19):
No. Honestly, I actually haven’t ever seen one made either.

Ryn (07:23):
I’m sure somebody is doing it somewhere on the planet.

Katja (07:24):
Well, I was thinking about it yesterday. I was like, oh, we should just make some cayenne essential oil and see what that’s like. And then I was like, hold on a second. If we did that, we’d never be able to use the still for anything else again, because it would just be so…

Ryn (07:37):
Saturated with cayenne. Yeah. That’s for real, you know, so yeah. So with cayenne we’re going to work with other methods to get a more complete extraction.

Katja (07:48):
Right. And so maybe to think just for a second, just to get super nerdy for a minute and talk about molecular weights for a second. Because the thing about volatile oils, the thing about essential oils, is it is the latest weight molecules in the plant. It is only the things that can be carried on the air. The thing is that not everything medicinal is able to be carried in the air. So we can just go with two super basic examples. One is the smelly parts, right? Like if you’re thinking about any plant that has an aroma, much of that aroma is carried on the volatile oils. It’s carried through the air. And that is why when you open a bottle of essential oil, you can smell it. But then let’s do like the opposite and say the mineral content of the plant. That’s way too heavy. It doesn’t evaporate. In fact, not only that, but some of the different constituents even sink. Like if you make a tincture of burdock, and you get those little particles that to the bottom. That’s never going to show up in an essential oil, because it’s just too heavy. It’s so heavy that it sinks to the bottom of the bottle. But a lot of the stuff, when we’re talking specifically about burdock, the sinking to the bottom of the bottle is inulin content. And hey, if you want to work with burdock to improve your gut flora, you need that. Even if you had an essential oil of burdock, which, why would you make that, it wouldn’t help you to do this job. So we need to understand that that essential oils are not bad. They’re also not good. They are what they are, and they do what they do. And so if I want to work with cayenne to get a really hot salve, not everything in the cayenne that makes it hot is actually lightweight enough to be carried in the air, to evaporate into the air. Much of it is in those oils that are on your fingers, that then you inevitably rub your eye with when your cooking.

Ryn (09:59):
No, of course. It’s just part of the way cayenne relates to us humans. Yeah. So, you know, you had mentioned the kind of sustainability idea there. And we’re not preppers exactly. But we do also sometimes think about what could happen if supply chains are disrupted, or if we did literally have to grow every single herb we worked with.

Katja (10:19):
Right. We like to be self-sufficient.

Ryn (10:21):
On our home land, right? And so kind of searching for other methods to increase the potency of our oil preparations or our salves kind of led us in this direction. We could easily grow a patch of cayenne. And we could harvest that, and we could infuse some, and make tincture from some. And then we could mix that together and get a good, strong salve going.

Why Add a Cayenne Tincture?

Katja (10:45):
Maybe one other thing to put there is that you might be thinking, well, why don’t you just put the cayenne in the oil, and then the oil will be in the salve? And the answer to that question is shockingly disappointing.

Ryn (11:02):
Yeah. So we’ve tried this a few times and there may still be some refinements to the process that could get it to work.

Katja (11:10):
I have some new ideas. They involve a blender. I definitely have some new ideas, but it doesn’t give you the real… You know, you can do that and you’re like, eh, it’s kind of warm. I think it’s kind of warm. It’s warm, right? But it doesn’t give you that heat that you’re like, ooh, soothing warmth. Yes. It doesn’t give that. It doesn’t have that full potency. So I am going to try and experiment with a blender and some heat and some other thing, and I’ll let you know. But right now we’re working on this other method that I like a lot.

Ryn (11:46):
Right. Because cayenne tincture is unquestionably super hot and fiery. And you can rub it right on your skin, and you can see the skin turn red. You can feel the feeling of warmth in the skin right there. So, looking at that and saying, all right, well, we’ve got these oil extractions that weren’t really blowing our minds, and we’ve got this tincture that’s really powerful.

Katja (12:07):
Yeah. Definitely hot.

Ryn (12:07):
Can we bring them together? And yes, there are ways.

Katja (12:10):
And like, okay. Yes, the simplest way is to make a liniment instead of a salve. And a liniment is just alcohol and oils mixed together. They’re going to separate. That is the nature of it. And so you shake it really well every time you want to apply it. Great. That’s totally fine. But sometimes you want a salve.

Ryn (12:28):
Yeah. I mean, for one thing, they’re a little more stable. They’re going to last longer, because the bees wax is going to kind of prevent oxygen from penetrating down into the under layers of the salve in the container. So, it’s just more stable that way. It’s easier to carry around, easier to apply without having a mess. So, salves are really preferable for a lot of reasons there. Yeah. So what we’re talking about really is going to be combining our oil extract or salve itself, and then getting some tincture into there. So in that process, we’re going to need to get rid of the alcohol and just leave behind the things that the alcohol extracted. So we’ll talk about how to do that in a moment, but first, just a couple of thoughts on some herbs that this might be particularly worth doing this process. So these would be herbs that may have some constituents that are oil soluble and then others that are better extracted into alcohol. And so if we do this kind of two-stage extraction, or we have both kinds of extract coming together, then we know that we’re getting a more complete representation of what was in the plant. So, it could also be that you want to have a plant into your topical preparation, but itself just doesn’t really have a whole lot of oil soluble constituents, or they’re better extracted in alcohol. And so if you can do the alcohol extraction that pulls it out of the plant material, you’ve got it in that liquid. You combine that liquid with the oil, and then you evaporate off the alcohol. And now you’ve left those behind, or you’ve brought them in. Now they’re in the oil, swimming around, doing their thing. So this is particularly relevant to plants that have resin content to them. And that could include straight up resins like pine resin, myrrh resin, frankincense or boswellia, all of that kind of thing. But also plants that have resinous constituents, like calendula for one, gum weed. You could also look even at arnica, or for that matter cannabis, hemp would apply here as well. And then there are some plants that have certain kinds of alkaloid content that extracts really nicely into oil. And, I’m sorry, extracts really nicely into alcohol. And so it’s helpful to do an alcohol extract and then put that into your oil product.

Ryn (15:00):
The berberine herbs are that way, actually. Berberine is pretty enthusiastic about coming out into alcohol or even water, and a little bit less so in oil. So if you had a golden seal, barberry, coptis root, oregon grape root kind of preparation, you could do it this way and that would work out just fine. And then there’s kava. And with kava you have the kavalactones, most famously. And they themselves, it turns out, are soluble both in oil and also in alcohol. And when we talk about them, that is a group. There are lots of individual members like yangonin and kawain and so on. And so those ones, each individual may be a little better as alcohol or a little better as oil. And so if you do both types of extract here, you’re going to get a better representation. This is even true for St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort has a whole pile of different constituents. And they’re actually variously soluble in water, alcohol, oil other, other menstrua. But you can get the best effect with St. John’s wort for a topical by combining an oil and an alcohol extract. So, yeah, just a few examples. But you can certainly explore with others. And as always, our best advice for you is to try lots of experiments and see what you like best, and what does the job for you the best.

Advantages of a Mini Crockpot

Katja (16:22):
All right. Well, let’s get into how we’re doing this. So the key star of our show here is going to be a little tiny mini crockpot. So the Crockpot brand makes these little tiny crockpots that are intended to sit on your desk at work, and that you would bring your lunch and put it in there and like warm it for an hour before you eat instead of using a microwave or whatever. And so they have an on and off switch, but they don’t have any settings at all. They only will heat, well, right now, our temperature seems to be that the containment unit itself is getting up to about 140, and the stuff inside of it is getting up to just nearly 120. But you don’t have an option. They just turn on. They also make these little tiny mini fondu pots, and they also don’t have a temperature. But very similarly they just warm enough to keep something like cheese, or whatever, chocolate at a liquid state, but it’s never going to boil. It’s never going to get super hot. You can’t scald anything with it.

Ryn (17:45):
Yeah. And even normal sized crockpots, some of them have a setting that’s not high, not low, but warm. And look out for that, because if they have that warm setting, that’s often in the temperature range that we’re looking for here. Some folks will even modify an existing crockpot. Like put a dimmer switch into the cord so you can adjust the temperature very carefully. With any of these, what you can do is you can fill the thing with water. Turn it on. Give it an hour or two to get up to its steady state temperature. And then go ahead and measure there. Our target here is to keep it below 150 degrees Fahrenheit. And that’s going to be just fine for basically any oil that you happen to use. We’re trying to stay below, you might call it the boiling point. With oils people might get a little nerdy and say, well, it’s not really a boiling point. It’s what we call a smoke point. But it’s the same kind of thing. If you see vapors coming off…

Katja (18:45):
That’s bad.

Ryn (18:45):
Yeah. And even the they shall not be named industrial seed oils that we always stay far, far away from, like safflower or canola oil or whatever else, their smoke points are not up until like 225 degrees Fahrenheit. When you’re talking about something like coconut oil, that can be more around 350 degrees. And if you’re working with let’s say extra virgin olive oil, that’s more like 375 before it’s going to start to oxidize and go bad on you and all of that. And beef tallow, for instance, has a smoke point that’s way up at like 480. So, my point here is just that at around 150 or below, we’re staying far, far away from the temperature ranges where we risk damaging or oxidizing our oils. So we feel totally comfortable with that.

Katja (19:44):
And, you know, I can remember making licorice infused oil on the stove. And like, invariably, you would turn away for just…you put it on the lowest setting. And then you’d turn away for a minute, and you’d come back and it was starting to bubble. And you’re like, no, and I would still use it. But this little lunch warmer crockpot thing, this is luxury. This is really the key, because also you can leave it turned on for a really long time, and that that’s going to be really relevant.

Ryn (20:19):
So, to get started we just took some salves that we liked.

Katja (20:23):
Yeah. I had a Solomon’s seal salve. And then you had made a muscle rub salve that didn’t get satisfyingly hot. It had nice things in it, but then you were like, eh, this could be hotter.

Ryn (20:40):
Yeah. And I had thought once or twice, well, I’ll melt it. I’ll put in some more camphor. I’ll put in more cinnamon oil, ginger essential oil, whatever. But I never got around to it.

Katja (20:48):
And it had other good stuff in it. So I was like, eh, I’ll just take this. I will take the Solomon’s seal salve. I’ll blend those together. I put in a little bit of goldenrod oil as well. So altogether there’s about two thirds of a cup of oils – oil or salve, but once it melts, it’s all liquid – in the crockpot. And then I put in two teaspoons of lobelia tincture and five teaspoons of cayenne tincture. So, I’ve got a total of seven teaspoons in the mix, seven teaspoons of alcohol. And in this particular case, both alcohols were vodka. So it’s actually 40% alcohol, 60% water. And my preference is actually – even though y’all know, I don’t love making tincture in grain alcohol – my preference is actually to go with a much higher concentration of alcohol, just because it evaporates faster.

Ryn (21:53):
Yeah. When we’re doing this process specifically, you want that higher proof. Because it’ll just not take as long. And yeah.

Katja (22:00):
Right. And, again, like I had a vodka tincture of cayenne. And let me tell you, one drop of it on your tongue will tell you this stuff is plenty hot. So it definitely is working. It’s just taking about twice as long to evaporate, because alcohol evaporates much easier than water does. And because there is such a high water content, that’s just taking longer. But it’s not a problem, because it’s just sitting on the counter while I’m doing other things. So that’s fine.

Ryn (22:22):
Yeah. So basically just combine everything in the crackpot together. Lid off, because we are trying to evaporate.

Katja (22:30):
Right. We can’t leave the lid on, because if we do then all of the water and alcohol that we’re trying to get rid of will condense on the inside of the lid and just fall back down into the salve.. That would defeat the purpose.

Ryn (22:41):
Yeah. So keep it warm. Keep it warm for several hours. Let it evaporate like that. And we’re checking on it frequently.

Checking and Stirring

Katja (22:49):
Right. And checking and also stirring. Because when you stir it, you’re breaking up the adhesiveness of the water molecules underneath the oil and kind of stirring it up to the surface, allowing it to evaporate more easily, more quickly. So stirring it, you know, every so…you don’t have to sit there and stir it the whole time. But like, you know, every half an hour or so, go give it a stir. As a time reference the temperature of the oil right now is about 119 degrees. And in the first five hours, the liquid content, the alcohol and water content, evaporated down to just under three teaspoons. So that’s more than 50% evaporation in the first five hours, which is good. And so I think that the finished product is probably going to come out. It’s still going right now, but I think it’s going to come in at about eight hours. But the thing here is that it kind of doesn’t really matter. You just keep it turned on, and keep stirring it until it’s all evaporated. And last night when it was time to go to bed, I didn’t leave it turned on. Because I was like, eh, cats. I’m not going to do that. I turned it off. I went to bed. I woke up this morning. And it had hardened in the container, which was fine. I just turned it back on again.

Ryn (24:18):
When you looked at it, you kind of dug in to see what was going on, right? There was like a layer of like basically hardened salve on the top.

Katja (24:24):
Yeah. And then I actually made a little exit path, like a little door through the hardened salve on top, so that I could dump out all of the fluid and measure how much was actually left, because I wanted to do math for y’all. But yeah. Then I just warmed it back up again. Stirred it up, and it’s continuing to evaporate.

Ryn (24:46):
Yeah. And if you’re not sure then don’t worry, because you can look at it. And what you’ll see is a few things. You might see pools or bubbles of the tincture itself kind of self-contained within the oil.

Katja (25:04):
Yeah, like on the bottom. Like one of those toys with the different colors of oil or whatever.

Ryn (25:09):
Almost like a lava lamp situation, yeah. And, you know, as you start stir it around, you’ll break that up. And that’s one of the reasons that we want to come back and stir that often. We should give it a sniff, you know. While it’s still evaporating, you’ll be able to detect some of the alcohol scent. And again, if you let it cool and there still is a substantial amount of alcohol or water content left, then it’ll be apparent. It will sink to the bottom. And as you dig it out and mix it all together, you’ll see it’s there. So you’ll know that it still needs some more time. All right, cool.

Katja (25:39):
Although, I guess the other thing to say is that we’ve been testing it along the way. And it’s getting hotter. Even though you would sort of think that the ultimate final heat value of the salve would not really change. Like once you stir it up really good, if you just put some of it on your hand, you would think, well, that’s what it’s going to be, because everything is here. And yet as it evaporates, it actually does seem to be getting hotter. This last round really did like make my skin.

Ryn (26:15):
Yeah. She’s been patch testing on a few different spots on the arm. And you can kind of see oh, this one’s much redder than last time.

Katja (26:21):
Yeah. It’s great. And that redness is actually what we’re looking for. It’s not like redness, like I’m having an allergic reaction. It’s redness like, ooh, there’s warmth in this area, and all the blood is rushing towards it.

Ryn (26:32):
The rubefacient power of cayenne.

Katja (26:33):
Yes. That’s what I want when my back hurts.

Ryn (26:37):
Right on. So, you know, in this case we were beginning with some salves that already existed and some tincture that already existed. And we were combining materials that we already had on hand.

Katja (26:45):
Right. And I will also say that if what you had was oil, beeswax, and tincture, that would work too. I skipped a step because I had some salve, and I just melted it. But you could easily have just put the oils and a handful of beeswax and the tincture in there. In the end, like after the first 20 minutes, it is the same thing. Because once everything melts, it’s the same, whether you put salve in there to start with, or whether you put oil and beeswax in to start with.

An Alcohol Intermediary Technique

Ryn (27:14):
Right. Exactly. there’s another process that we could go through that’s going to come to basically the same kind of end result. And so this is what’s called making an alcohol intermediary infusion or salve. And so the process here is first you’re going to take some plant material, and you’re going to put it into a dish, and you’re going to saturate it with high proof alcohol. If you have a nice flat dish that you can spread it out a little bit, then you won’t need to use as much material. If you do it in like a Mason jar, you might need to pour on more alcohol than you really want to get everything submerged and saturated well. But you can try different options and see what works for you.

Katja (27:58):
The key here is that we’re trying to get the plants to soak in as much alcohol as they can.

Ryn (28:05):
Right. We’re not trying to let them swim around in an alcohol ocean. They’re just getting soaked and super saturated. Yeah. And we’re going to let them saturate like that for at least a couple of hours. Some herbalists like to do this overnight or for various times, but at least a couple hours is going to be good. And then after you’ve done that, you can either just put your whole plant mixture that’s been saturated in the high proof alcohol into a crockpot and then put in some oil.

Katja (28:39):
So now we have plant soaked in alcohol. That entire mess, the plants and everything, now into the crockpot with the oil.

Ryn (28:49):
Yeah. And at that point we would be doing a pretty similar process. We would just be leaving it in the crockpot for a good long time. We’re allowing that alcohol to evaporate, coming back and stirring regularly. We’re observing the smell of it for any alcohol fumes coming off. We’re observing for small bubbles that will rise up out of there. Those bubbles are going to be from the alcohol bubbling, not from the oil bubbling. So, normally whenever you see bubbles in your oil, you would kind of be like, oh no.

Katja (29:18):
Yeah, no. This kind of bubble is more like carbonation, you know, not like boiling bubbles.

Ryn (29:25):

Katja (29:25):

Ryn (29:28):
Yeah. And again, that’s going to be happening even at these low temperatures of 140, 150 or below. So you won’t have to be concerned there. Now some herbalists like to have another step, which before you put it in your crockpot, you’ll take your plant matter saturated with the high proof alcohol. You’ll add in the amount of oil you want to have in there, and throw all of it into the blender. And just turn the thing on and let it run for like 10 or 20 minutes. It’ll get hot, but that’ll break up the plant matter even further. It’ll expose more surface area to the oil-alcohol mixture. So it’s a step that can help the extraction to go along.

Katja (30:11):
Even if you only did it for like two minutes, it still is going to be a help in terms of like breaking up the cell walls, exposing more of the plant surface area to the menstruum, that kind of stuff.

Straining (and Setting) the Final Product

Ryn (30:23):
Yeah. Just get everything mixed together real well. So, you know, from there, you just go ahead and pour that in the crockpot. And just like before, let it be in there for several hours uncovered. Let that alcohol evaporate. And so in either case, we end up with a crockpot full of oil and plant material, and the alcohol has all disappeared. At that point you’re going to need to strain out your material.

Katja (30:48):
Yeah, that part is kind of a pain.

Ryn (30:50):
Yeah. Straining out from oil is a little difficult. It’s a bit messy. But use all your usual techniques. Yu can have your strainer with the mesh and the cheese cloth in there. Squeeze it up real good after. If you have a press that you can use, that’s always best because that’ll help you to get the most out of it.

Katja (31:09):
This is where I think the blender really… I mean, I think the blender helps with extraction because increasing the surface area. But I also think that the blender makes it so much easier to press out, because you don’t have like big globs or chunks. It presses much more uniformly. You don’t need as much hand strength. If you had, let’s say we’re doing this method with kava roots right now. And if it had been chunks of kava root, even though they’re fresh, still if it had been chunks of kava root, you can only squeeze those so much. And there’s still going to be little gaps in between them with oil trapped in those gaps. And in order to compress it all the way down to get all of the oil bits out, you just need tons and tons of hand strength. If it has been slurried first, like through the blender, then it’s just so much more uniform. It’s just easier to press it down into sort of like a cake.

Ryn (32:09):
Yeah. Cool. All right. Yeah. So you’re basically done at that point, right? You’ve got your two stage infused oil. And now you’re ready to take that, and to melt in some wax. Or if this was one you were going to just rub right on or use as a massage oil or do whatever else to, it’s good to go.

Katja (32:29):
Yeah. So I’m really excited about this. For me, the sort of pain rub salve is really just so valuable just for sore muscles, or like at the end of the night when your back hurts or if you have a wonky knee that always bugs you, that kind of stuff. This is something I turn to a lot. And I really want them to be good and hot, but I also really want to be able to make them myself with stuff that I have produced entirely myself. And I’m just never going to be able to produce camphor essential oil. It’s not going to happen.

Ryn (33:12):
Yeah, for sure. Cool. All right. Well that was some quick thoughts on powering up your herbal salves with the help of tinctures and a tiny crockpot.

Katja (33:25):
Tiny crockpot. They’re so cute. You’re going to want like a whole family of them.

Ryn (33:32):
Yeah. Have like three or four bubbling away, or not bubbling as the case may be.

Katja (33:36):
Exactly. That’s the whole thing. They don’t bubble. It’s so great. And really, just thinking about how when I first started all this, the tools that we had available… I mean, it’s not like we didn’t have blenders 20 some odd years ago. Of course we had blenders, and we had crockpots too, but…

Ryn (33:54):
Oh, yeah, I mean some herbal medicine making books are like, well, if you turn your oven on at the low setting, but then you kind of like prop the door open a little bit. That’ll probably be around 150.

Katja (34:01):
Yeah. So much of what we did was like that. And now it’s just like, no. You just get this cute little crockpot for 25 bucks, and you plug it in and it’s done.

Ryn (34:11):
And it’s more energy efficient than leaving your oven half open. So cool.

Katja (34:17):
Yeah, really exciting.

Ryn (34:17):
So yeah. Give that a try. Feel free to reach out to us with any comments.

Katja (34:21):
Yeah. Let us know what you make for salve, because that’s always exciting.

Ryn (34:26):
And don’t forget that we have a whole course on herbal medicine making methods. It’s called Herbal Medicine Making.

Katja (34:33):
It is. You will find it at online.commonwealthherbs.com. That course is part of the Family Herbalist program, which would qualify you for the 10% off of everything discount at MountainRoseHerbs.com if you are into that kind of thing. But it also has more than 50 different ways to make herbal medicines, herbal products, herbal treats, all kinds of things. And I think you will love it.

Ryn (35:05):
Check it out. All right. Well, we’ll be back next time with some more Holistic Herbalism podcasts. Until then take care of yourselves, take care of each other. Drink some tea, and power up those salves.

Katja (35:38):

Ryn (35:38):

Katja (35:38):


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