Today, I spent a good two hours separating beeswax from honey (the honey was already extracted). The honeycomb was from two sets of hives — truly a city and country marriage. One set of hives were at my friend’s house in Washington, DC (across the street from the arboretum, no less!). The other hives were my sweetie’s hives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Eventually, I was able to figure out a (rather tedious yet rewarding) process of separating the wax to make two heart molds of the beeswax (as you see one fine example above).
About 3-4 months ago I made a ‘mountain salve’ from my sweetie’s beeswax, skipping this fancy mold step (recipe below). I think it’s best used on blistered and battered, hard-working hands. However, I like to use it for no reason at all; just to lather on a thirsty area of skin and provide myself some self-care and self-love. Here are some images (the first is of the ingredients and the second is of the final product):
You can buy beeswax in molds from any health food cooperative or herb supply store. You can also locate a beekeeper near you and inquire about their wax; many times they sell beeswax molds.
Of course, I can’t write anything about bees without suggesting that you educate yourself on the plight of our hard-working ally. Please tune-in and watch one of these documentaries when you get a chance:
And, watch a free documentary on PBS
Needless to say, they pollinate about 80% of all flowering food sources. We need them and we have an ancient relationship with them. The films I outlined above do better justice to the issues than my blog would (although I did write a short blog on honey bees after I took a short workshop almost 2 years ago). So, please watch one of them when you get a chance.
Here is a basic medicinal salve recipe that I got from a guy at North Carolina’s Firefly Gathering (reskilling event):
3 pints of olive oil
1 ounce dried comfrey leaves (heals wounds, rebuilds skin — do not use on deep wounds!)
1 ounce dried yarrow leaves (helps stop bleeding, heals wounds)
1 ounce dried plantain leaves (helps calm/soothe bug bites and stings)
4 to 5 ounces beeswa
3-4 drops essential oil (I suggest lavender) (optional)
*other common herbs used in salves — calendula, lavender, st. john’s wort, balm of gilead buds, sumac leaves, lavender flowers
1 – Place one ounce of a dried herb into a one pint jar, fill with olive oil, cover and let steep for three weeks.
2 – If using fresh herbs, loosely fill each pint jar with chopped fresh herb, then fill with olive oil and steep for three weeks.
3 – After the 3 weeks have passed, strain oil from each jar into a single heatproof container (Pyrex pitcher or bowl, Vision cookware, etc).
4 – Place three canning jar rings in the bottom of a pot, large enough to hold your glass container of infused oils and with room to add water to make a double boiler effect.
5 – Place heatproof container of oil on the jar rings and surround with water to a depth of four to five inches.
6 – Turn on stove or place over other heat source.
7 – When the water begins boiling, start adding 4 ounces of beeswax cut into course shavings, to the warm oil. Stir after adding to incorporate the wax into the oils.
8 – When all is warm and mixed, drop several drops of the oil/wax mixture onto a cool surface (metal works great!), then let it harden. Press with a fingertip to judge the firmness of the salve. If too soft, add additional beeswax. If too farm, add a bit more of olive oil to the mix.
9 – Add 3-4 drops of your essential oil and stir in. Then, pour the oil/wax mixture into 4 ounce canning jars. Cover with clean lids and rings and allow to cool.
10 – Label each jar with the date and name of the salve (including ingredients).
11 – Shelf life will depend on storage temp and amount of sunlight exposure. Normal life is over one year. To extend this, store in refrigeration until needed.