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The finished products. 

In under an hour, all-natural, organic remedies can be whipped up in the kitchen using canning tools, the spice cabinet and essential oils. A favorite of mine is to use my dried cayenne peppers for a heated muscle rub.

To make salves and rubs, I use a coconut oil base, beeswax to firm it up and lessen the greasy feel, and a little sweet almond oil for extra moisturizing. To this base, any number of essential oils and spices can be added to make recipes that meet the needs of the user.

The base is ½ cup coconut oil, ¼ cup beeswax beads or shavings, and tablespoon of sweet almond oil. This will create a pretty firm rub. Using this recipe, the resulting consistency is close to the average lip balm, though it will melt further upon contact with body heat.

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A mason jar can be used as a double boiler. 

Most recipes will call for a double boiler; however, I make use of a canning ring and pint mason jar. Settle your ring in the bottle of a sauce pot of water, and set a pint jar on the ring. This elevates the jar off the bottle of pot to prevent burning while allowing the water to boil around the mason jar. Fair warning, this setup is not the most stable, but the melting oils and wax don’t require vigorous stirring. I use a skewer to gently stir as the oils and beeswax melt. This recipe will fill the pint jar to only about two inches. I would use a larger, wide-mouth quart jar if doubling the recipe.

Once the coconut oil, beeswax and sweet almond oil have melted — about 20 to 25 minutes in a medium boil for the beeswax to melt fully — add two heaping teaspoons of cayenne pepper and two teaspoons of powdered ginger. The capsaicin in the peppers, the same compound responsible for the heat, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger root has also been shown to have pain-relieving effects. The cayenne also gives the muscle rub a heat effect when rubbed onto the skin. The amount can be increased or decreased to the user’s preference, though two heaping teaspoons have a noticeable heat. It may be best to start out with level teaspoons on the first round and adjust according to preferences.

Remove the mixture from heat and allow it to cool for just a couple minutes before adding in the essential oil. To obtain the cooling effect to follow the heat of the cayenne pepper, I use peppermint oil, but spearmint is a great alternate if you’re not a fan of the fragrant strength of peppermint. Both have the menthol needed to have the cooling sensation. In the quantities outlined here, I added 15 drops of peppermint oil to my cayenne and ginger mixture. A dash of lavender adds a nice aroma as well.

This recipe yields about 8 ounces of muscle rub, perfectly split between two 4 oz jelly jars to be stored in a cool place up to a year.

Bonus recipe for bug bite itch relief: Using the same steps above, I cut the beeswax to 2/3 of the amount and add in more coconut oil for a smoother consistency of the base, melt down and remove from heat, then add 12 drops of tea tree oil and 12 drops of lemongrass to the oil and wax base. Once cooled completely, you can spoon small amounts to small lip balm containers for on-the-go bug bite relief.

Melanie as a born-again Hillbetty attempting to revive her Appalachian roots. She lives in Creston with her two dogs and 21 chickens.

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