tonight, after many hours of working, i finally finished a mama k's christmas present, an herbal balm made specifically for her. lately my herb collection has gotten a little out of hand, and i new that mama k really liked lavender, so this seemed like a really good idea.
after some brief research (i had never made balm before) i came down to this general recipe:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. dried herbs
1/16 oz. beeswax
1 t. vitamin e
first, set up a double boiler. this is basically a large pot halfway filled with water, with another, smaller pot on top. turn the heat on high (so that the water under neath starts to boil) and add to the smaller pot your olive oil and your dried herbs. for mine, i used some anise seed, orris root, marshmallow root, yarrow, red clover heads, a couple of cinnamon sticks, and lots and lots of lavender:
cook this mixture down for about four to six hours, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure that all of you water in the bottom pot dosen't evaporate. (add more water to bottom pot as needed, just be careful not to get any water into the herb/oil mixture). after four to six hours, strain the mixture using a cheesecloth or several coffee filters. discard the herbs. add vitamin e to oil.
at this point, you basically have an essential oil. you could do several things from here, including just keeping the oil and using it like you would store-bought essential oil. you could add some sugar and make a lovely sugar scrub, or add to a batch of soap, ect.
however, we are making balm. so once again, heat your oil in the double broiler, and grate your beeswax into your warm oil. stir until melted. if you want a thicker balm, use a bit more wax, if you want a thinner balm use a bit less than recommended. it may take you a few tries to get your proportions just the way you like them.
once wax is all melted, pour into clean, dry metal or glass containers for storage. let cool completely, and cover with lid. balm may keep up to a year in cool, dark place. this recipe made about 3oz of balm.