Finally, after just over four weeks I’ve decided to harvest my solar infused plantain oil and make a homemade bug bite remedy. The picture above is from when I first added the leaves to oil. I should have taken a picture of the jar before I strained the oil out but I completely forgot. It looked quite different after a month (the oil was more yellow, and the leaves had become very dark).
This project started back in the beginning of July, right after we bought our farm and met the local black flies. When we got home I picked a few plantain leaves from our balcony boxes and dried them in the dehydrator. When they were nice and crispy I put them in a small jar with some oil (just cooking oil, nothing special), and set the jar in a sunny window. Each day I checked the jar and gave it a little shake to mix things up. I doubt that was really necessary, but I liked doing it 🙂
Making the salve itself was actually disappointingly easy. Most of the work was just cleaning wax off of things afterwards.
I forgot to take a picture of the wax before it was was melted but I should have. I sacrificed a cute little pinecone shaped beeswax candle that I’ve had sitting around for years. I still remember buying it, it was at the farmer’s market in the town where I lived for university. It was so cute I could never bring myself to use it but today laziness won. I have been collecting scraps of beeswax from candles over the past few years, assuming I’d one day get inspired to try stuff like this but that collection is currently packed away in a box somewhere downstairs in the storage unit. My little pine cone candle was the only beeswax in the apartment except for a very beautiful (and regularly used) pillar candle that I wasn’t willing to melt down. I decided the pine cone had been sitting around long enough and it was time to give it a new and much more useful purpose.
So into the pot it went.
I don’t have a double boiler so I put the lid from a jar of pasta sauce in the bottom of a regular pot and set a little pot on top, surrounded by water. As the water heats up the wax inside the little pot is warmed up more gently and evenly than it would be if the small pot was sitting directly on the stove. At first I put the whole candle in but it was melting slower than I expected and I didn’t want to use too much heat, so I took it out and chopped it up into small pieces, which melted much faster.
While waiting for the wax to melt I strained the oil and discarded the leaves.
When the beexwax was melted, I poured the oil into the pot with it. Most of the beeswax instantly cooled and solidified since the oil was at room temperature.
I kept the heat on and stirred it until the wax returned to liquid and fully mixed with the oil. It only took a few minutes.
I was going to put the salve in a jar but a wider container made more sense, so I found an empty Lush soap tin I had sitting around. By pure chance it just happened to be the perfect size for the amount that I was working with.
After a while the salve cooled and hardened into something like lip balm.
It’s actually so much like lip balm I’m now considering making some of that using a similar method.
Now I just need some bug bites to try this stuff on 😉