Pain Salve for Wood Chopping Hands & Some Notes on Salve Bases
3 Parts Larrea leaf/flower infused oil
2 Parts Cottonwood bud infused oil
1 Part Cypress (or Thuja) leaf/berry infused oil
1 Part Ginger root infused oil
Sprinkle of Chile powder (you can use Cayenne, but I prefer Chile Piquin myself)
Blend oils and Chile powder, then add melted beeswax until you reach your desired consistency. I’m assuming you know how to make a basic salve. If not, wait until I do my post on basic medicine making and then makes this salve
Another method is to either add lanolin to the infused oils, or to actually infuse the herbs directly into lanolin or lard or ghee or whatever happy, wholesome kind of animal fat you’ve got on hand. This latter method needs to be done over a low heat for a long time. Some people do this in a double boiler, but me, I just pop it all into a skillet on a cool corner of the woodstove and stir frequently. When the herbs are somewhat crispy and the fat has taken on the color/scent of the plant matter, it’s done. This is the time honored way of making salve by a great many peoples, and variations on this are still used in Chinese Medicine, and other traditional systems of medicine. Animal fats absorb better into human skin than vegetable oils and are far preferable for burns or other hot skin conditions.
Yes, lanolin does smell pretty funky, but aren’t medicines supposed to have, um, character? Besides, you’ll most likely grow fond of it after a while. Some people have lanolin sensitivities so you’ll want to be sure have your salve jar clearly labeled that it contains it. I’ve never met anyone with a lard sensitivity, except vegans, but that’s different.
Anyhow, this makes a pain relieving and very healing salve for chapped, sore, ax handle battered hands. It works quite quickly and is amazingly effective. The Larrea can be removed if you’re not a Southwesterner and the salve will still work well. It’s most beneficial if used soon after the battering or chapping, but will be helpful at any point.
Other optional ingredients are Alder bark or leaf, black Pepper, Rosemary, Juniper, Comfrey or even some strong Peppermint or Wild Mint. The point is to have penetrating, tissue healing, circulatory stimulant and anti-inflammatory actions involved here. Often, aromatic and resinous herbs fall into these categories and you will find world-wide use of certain common plants like Cottonwood, Cypress and Juniper for muscular pain.
Note: If you make salve in a skillet and you use aromatic herbs like Larrea or Cottonwood that aren’t exactly culinary, you should probably not use cast iron because it absorbs flavor unless you’re going to dedicate the skillet to that purpose. Otherwise, your bacon and eggs could taste like Creosote Bush ~forever~