Winter's are notorious for wreaking havoc on skin and hair what with the combination of cold, dry air outside and the hot, dry air inside. It's time when lips are chapped, hair is brittle, and the skin at your finger tips cracks and splits. While it's easy enough to shrug it off and "patiently" wait for warmer weather it's also just as easy to make a high quality natural moisturizer with items you most likely already have in your kitchen.
Natural Oils and lotions are actually relatively easy to make and it's a great way to spend a Saturday with your kids when it's too cold to go outside. Any herbcraft is a combination of cooking and magick, so there is substantial teaching potential for you and your child(ren). With Natural Oils, even done the fast way (as the recipe below calls for) there is a degree of patience that must be learned, between grinding down herbs and baking the mixed oil. Even very young children can help with measuring amounts, pouring into bowls, and, of course, with the blending and mixing.
Glass Jar with a tight fitting lid (size about 2 cups)
Non-metallic Oven-safe Container with a tight fitting lid (size about 1 quart)
-Cast Iron is okay, but nothing Aluminum or Stainless Steel
-Pyrex bowls/casserole dishes work well
Mortar and Pestle (optional, but convenient)
Rubber Spatula (optional, but convenient)
Olive Oil (about 2 cups)
- plain oi' vegetable oil will work well if you've nothing else, but Olive Oil is best advised. [When we made this recipe, we used a blend of Olive Oil (deeply penetrates the skin, highly moisturizing and healing,) Coconut Oil (heavier oil, seals in moisture,) and Grapeseed Oil (high Vitamin E content to help heal skin.) If you have a variety of oils, you can experiment with proportions to get a finished consistency you like.]
Dried Herbs about 1 cup total (equal proportions on herbs is fine, unless your intuition and the amount you have on hand say otherwise)
-Rosemary is great as it helps repair cells, plus it's a standard Kitchen Herb so if you don't have it, you can easily get it
-Green Tea is loaded with antioxidants and research suggest that it can repair minor signs of aging, also easy to come by if you don't already have it
-We also used Plantain as it's great for all skin ailments and is readily found during warmer months (i.e. we had some on hand that we had picked from our yard.)
To start, you want to measure out your Herbs and render them to the finest consistency you can, either with your trusty Mortar and Pestle or by crumbling with your fingers. The finer the better as more of the medicinal properties (and magickal) will be transferred to the Oil. If you are going to make this a magickal craft as well, now is the time to empower the herbs. Place all of the Herbs into your Oven-safe Container and blend them together by hand. Kids can help with this as they are veritable fonts of extra energy. Mix together if you don't mind cleaning up a bit more afterwards, or pass the bowl back and forth, taking turns. You can chant as you empower, too, as this is a great form of magick for kids (children naturally like rhymes,) and the repetition helps to increase the amount of energy raised.
Now measure the Oil and add it to the Herbs. Place the lid on tightly and bake in the oven at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 6-10 hours. The low heat allows the herb matter to release its properties into the oil without too much being lost to vaporization and the long bake time ensures the greatest amount of transfer. Once done baking, allow the Oil to cool down until you can comfortably touch the Container barehanded.
Now it's time to strain out the Herbs. You'll want to fold the Cheese Cloth several times so that you have at least 8 layers. You want it so that if you hold it up, you can't see through the holes. Secure the Cloth to the top of your Jar with the Rubberband, but so that it hangs into the Jar just slightly (about 1 inch.) Slowly pour the Oil into the Jar. This is wear the Rubber Spatula comes in handy: you can use it to scrape out the last of the Oil and Herbs into the Cheese Cloth. Remove the Cheese Cloth and gently squeeze the excess Oil from the Herbs, taking care not to allow any of the Herbs to fall into the Oil.
And that's it! You've just made a high-quality Natural Oil that you can use to moisturize and heal your skin. This particular recipe is safe for internal and external use and is even gentle enough to be used on infants as part of an Infant Massage. You can also rub it into your hair and scalp to combat dandruff and split ends: leave in for at least 20 minutes and shampoo as normal.
To Store: you can keep it in the fridge to increase the shelf life, but all that's really needed is to keep it out of sunlight and in a relatively cool place.
Throwing the Bones
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