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Balm for Beginners (Clippers for the clueless)

One thing you should never do, my friends, if you are a middle aged woman and you suspect that you may soon be menopausal, you should never, EVER be tempted to tritty trot like a ‘my little pony’ down to Argos and buy yourself hair clippers. Should you inadvertantly do this, don’t then get those clippers out in a 10 minute window before teatime and without reading the instructions, go for broke, set it to zero and have a go Joe…..

No sireeee. Because your children will laugh themselves into a stupor and declare that you are now balder than Grandpa on one patch near your left eyebrow. And if that wasn’t shaming enough, you keep on going the next day, trying to even it up, and pretending that hair clippers isn’t the female equivalent to men buying a zoomy zoom motorbike at 50.

Right. Enough of sad things, lets get on with something completely different. Witchy balm. I thought we might have ourselves a little tutorial…you up for that? Then lets begin (bearing in mind I never measure anything, and am a little left of insane right now)

The simple truth about making balm is that it is really just melting together oils and beeswax and then letting them solidify in containers. Getting the proportions right is fun to trial and error (not a lot can go wrong, it’s much like making jam – keep testing for thickness and set). You will need – oil (olive oil, or sweet almond, or sunflower, you know, something oily) and you will need beeswax (order online from Neals Yard or pick some up locally at a farmers market).

What would be really super whizzy to add to that, for extra silkiness in the balm, is coconut oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. These you can buy online, and the very best company in my mind is Shea Butter Cottage – who are a small scale, ethical, fairly traded company run by a woman from Ghana called Akua Wood. She rocks by the way.

Find yourself a double pan boiler – what are those things called? My brain can’t find the right word – those pans that you melt chocolate in – bain marie? – well, nab one of those, or failing that, put a pyrex glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Keep the water at a rolling simmer, and then pop in your oil, followed by your beeswax and whatever ever else you are adding. Let it all melt together while you enjoy the gorgeous honey smell of beeswax filling your kitchen. Have some clean jars to hand, and a small jug.

When the beeswax has melted into the oils, it’s time to test it out with a wooden spoon dipped in the mixture. If it sets nicely on the spoon and your finger – soft but not runny, moveable and not waxy, then you are done. (if not, fiddle with the proportions a bit more). This is the time to add any essential oils your little heart might desire. Go for it. (I love a company called Baldwins who do mail order oils, herbs, jars etc)  Then, pour the mixture in to the jug and carefully into your waiting jars. Leave to set.

Et voila! You are done. You are nearly an official witchety witch. You are most certainly a kitchen goddess. You now have balm to put on your skin, lips, sore knees, anything wooden that needs polishing. Grab some kitchen roll and wipe out the saucepan, and use it to rub into wooden chopping boards that have seen better days. Before you start panicking, I am going to list below some approximate measurements, and if you’re really on a herby, balm making roll, then I suggest you cast your eyes over Susanne Fischer-Rizzi’s book “Complete Earth Medicine Handbook” for inspiration and direction.

Making my own balm is one of my lovely, calming quiet rituals that I save for certain days. A bit like baking. It sets your world a little straighter. And you don’t need much – a little goes a long way. My children have grown up with it slapped on them to cure anything from ‘ouchies’ on knees, to stinging nettled legs, from sadness to homesickness. No matter what ails them, they know that my balm has their name on it. Now they are older and bigger and they’ve learned to duck when they see me coming for them, balm in hand. Good job I still have the loveliest of Goddaughters to smother in it, when her chin needed a little patching, after a wonky broomstick landing….”balm on” baby, it’s all good.

One cup of oils (I use olive oil, or sweet almond)
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
2 teaspoons of cocoa butter
1 teaspoon of shea butter
1 tablespoon of beeswax (this is hard to guess as its solid, but be bold, give a go)
20 drops of essential oil (I have to tell you that I often use double this amt. but then I am queen reckless)


1 Angela { 09.27.13 at 4:07 pm }

Can’t wait to have a go. Thanks for sending my parcel of cards and prints so quickly too.

2 Jaine { 10.01.13 at 11:48 am }

Hey go for it Angela – let me know how you get on! Glad the cards and prints got there safely! Jxx

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