Mid-June through early July is the pinnacle of lavender plant flowering in North America. Although you might overlook the plant as something the missus just has in her garden, it can serve as an important part of your backwoods kit.
Even the most seasoned veteran can burn their hand at the campfire or sustain cuts and scrapes in the brush. The oils in the lavender plant contain anti-microbial compounds that protect scrapes and wounds from infection. It also serves as an antiseptic and insect repellant, and soothes insect bites. It’s nature’s Neosporin, and was used to treat and disinfect wounds and sterilize hospital equipment up until WWI. The best part is, lavender can be used in making a cheap and natural salve that you will come to rely on.
To make 2 nearly full quart jars you will need:
Double boiler (a stock pot with a regular saucepan inside will work, but I use an old pan I keep for that salves and candle making because the beeswax will coat the pan and is hard to get out)
Strainer or muslin/cheesecloth
Olive or coconut oil, 4 cups (I prefer coconut oil, it makes the salve creamier)
Beeswax, grated (approx ¾ cup)
Fresh or dried lavender flowers (1 oz, you can estimate this to about the amount that fits inside a ziplock bag)
Note: You can add comfrey or calendula if you have it in the garden as well. Both have skin soothing properties. Just keep the total amount of flowers to 1 oz.
Step 1: Dump oil and lavender into smaller saucepot and simmer over double boiler on low for 2 hours. (Some methods suggest longer times here, but the active compounds are transferred quickly in the low-heat method) Do not let the oil come to a boil, it will kill the active plant oils. Remove from heat and let the oil cool, then strain the plant matter out and discard.
Step 2: Put the strained oil back on the double boiler and add the grated beeswax slowly, stir until the beeswax is fully melted into the oil.
Step 3: Pour into wide mouth ball jars (the small ones are hard to dip your fingers into) or metal tins for easier transport, since you can toss in your pack without worrying (you can recycle small metal tins with good closures, the last thing you want is melted oil and beeswax all over your gear)
Step 4: Let it cool before you put lid on. Your salve should be hardened, but workable. If it is still liquid after an hour, you need to re-melt and add just a few more teaspoons of beeswax. If your salve is too stiff, re-melt and add another teaspoon of oil.
Store in a cool, dry place.
Extreme heat will make salve melt, but it will re-harden when cooled.
Very cold temps will make it a bit harder to get out, but a small amount can be warmed in your hands before applying.
Apply liberally to burns, cuts, rashes, bites and wounds, open wounds are ok. The beeswax will actually serve as a liquid bandage.