How to Make Black Poplar Salve
Black poplar salve is a soothing, great-smelling ointment made from three ingredients, Black Poplar Buds, olive oil, and beeswax. The salve can also be made from other fragrant trees in the poplar family. The buds of the Black Poplar tree are collected in winter, before they begin to open. Black Poplar buds contain a sticky resin. This resin is rich in medicinal properties. It contains salicin, which is the medicine found in aspirin. The buds have also been shown to inhibit inflammation of the skin, making this type of salve useful for burns, rashes and other skin problems such as psoriasis. The buds are also high in tannins, which make the salve useful as an antibacterial ointment for cuts and scrapes 1. This is one of the few medicines that can be collected in winter time.
Seven Steps to Make Black Poplar Salve
1. Locate some accessible trees. Black Poplar Trees can be very tall, especially if they have to compete for sunlight in a thickly wooded area. If the tree is forty feet tall, chances are the lowest branches are going to be at least twenty feet up, where you won’t be able to reach them. Your best chance of finding branches you can actually reach are by looking near the edges of streams, or fields, or anywhere that the Black Poplar Tree might grow without being shaded by other trees.
2. Pick the buds. Pick from different branches, and avoid stripping any branch of all of its buds. Remember these buds were meant to be leaves, and you want to leave behind a healthy tree, so make sure there are plenty of buds left on each branch. Half a cup of buds will make plenty of salve.
3. Make an oil infusion. I use olive oil. You can do this step in two different ways. Place your buds in a clean jar and fill it with oil. Set the jar in a warm place, a sunny window for example, for two weeks, until your buds have release all of the resin into the oil. The other method is to heat the buds and oil on very low heat for an hour. The heat will speed things up, and the resin will be released into the oil quickly. If you use this method, use caution and keep a close watch on things. You don’t want the buds to ‘cook’, and you don’t want to leave oil on the stove unattended. Strain the oil from the buds. Use cheesecloth or even a coffee filter, and let the oil drip into a clean glass measuring cup.
4. Prepare your salve containers. Small jars, such as the ones fancy jams and jellies come in at Christmas time, are great little Salve containers. Whatever you decide to use, make sure you have enough to hold all your salve, and that they have been washed and sterilized and are completely dry.
5. Add the beeswax. The beeswax is going to thicken and solidify your salve mixture. The more you use, the harder the salve will be. If you’ve never made a salve before, it might be worth a trial run with some small amounts of plain oil and beeswax, to see what consistency works best for you. A rule of thumb is a ratio of 8 ounces oil to 1 ounce (by
weight) of beeswax. Your oil should already be in a measuring cup, so you can estimate how much beeswax to use. Heat the oil, add the beeswax and stir until the wax is melted. Quickly pour the oil and beeswax mixture into the containers and watch it turn into gorgeous salve as it cools.
6. Label your new Black Poplar Salve and use it for everything from chapped lips to scraped knees!
1 Jennifer Peace Rhind –Fragrance and Wellbeing: Plant Aromatics and Their Influence on the Psyche
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