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Friday, June 6, 2014

EPS (emergency pimple services): Black Salve recipe

When a pimple strikes, it usually comes at the wrong time. Right? A blemish on the face is never convenient! I have a couple of tips for you to try, so that next time you are caught with that volcano building in perfect time to erupt, inevitably, just as you are getting ready for some important event, you can apply a remedy to shrink and put out that fire before you leave the house. This also works well for insect bites, contact dermatitis caused by poisonous plants such as poison oak or ivy, or just plain old stinging nettles, as well as ingrown hairs and splinters, as it draws out and absorbs poisons while soothing inflammation in the epidermis and at the wound site.

Black Salve

To begin, make up a herbal infused oil. You can use this Rapha Salve mix, or go with my favorite anti-acne favorites and mix up:

1 part calendula flowers
1 part lavender flowers

So to infuse a pint of herbal oil, use 1/2 oz each of calendula and lavender per pint jar. Plantain and comfrey herbs also work well, but since I already include plantain in my anti-acne facial treatments on a somewhat regular basis I like to use other herbs for this.

Once you have your infused oil strained and ready to go, place the following ingredients into a glass measuring jug in a double boiler, the same way as for making a regular salve:

1/2 oz beeswax
1 Tb activated charcoal powder
optional 1 Tb bentonite or green clay powder
optional 4 drops vitamin E oil
optional 4 drops GSE (grapefruit seed extract)
herbal oil up to the 4 oz mark on the measuring jug (about 3 3/4 fl oz)

This will make enough black salve for one 4 oz tin, which will last a while. Alternatively, if you already have a basic Rapha Salve or other skin soothing salve made up, add 1 Tb (1 part) activated charcoal powder to 4 oz (8 parts) of gently melted salve. The charcoal won't thicken the salve, just adds a little extra drawing punch to it. Same with the clay. Bentonite clay is another toxin absorber, so using both charcoal and clay is my favorite way to go. As you can see, though, the clay is optional in black salve.

Now for the "tricky" part. Except that it's really not that tricky. Once things are melted all smoothly together, the charcoal (and the clay powder) tends to settle a bit as the salve cools. In the same way as with homemade deodorant, you will need to keep an eye on the cooling salve and give it a good stir every once in a while until fully cooled and set. I find that blood heat salve is mostly thickened but not fully hardened in place, and so I like to stir up all the charcoal from the bottom of the tin at this point, thoroughly turning it all over and then smoothing it on top. If you forget to stir, no big deal. Scrape the salve out of the tin and beat it for a moment in a food mixer with a whisk. This will break up the hardness of the salve, but it won't affect the potency of the salve itself. You can also pop this salve into an empty lipbalm tube, which I find to be super handy for quick EPS. Once the salve is mostly set but at that blood heat stage, stir it up well and then use a finger to push salve into the lippie tube. If your pour the fully melted salve right into the tube, the charcoal will settle, so make sure to shove in malleable but well mixed salve so that it hardens up in the lipbalm tube nicely for you.

To Use

Black Salve can stain clothing and fair hair, so so be careful not to go smearing this all over yourself right before getting dressed. It also tends to linger underneath a manicure, just in case you need to know. If taking from the tub, I tend to use the back of my nail to scrape some up so that it doesn't stay black underneath my white nail tip. I suggest popping a bandaid over the salve-covered wound while you allow the salve to work its magic for at least 15 minutes before applying makeup or leaving the house for that big event.

Use this as often as needed to shrink a pimple or boil, small or large. It doesn't matter whether the pimple is hard and inflamed, small and with a white head, or pus-filled because you squeezed and poked at it when you should not have done -- Black Salve will help it all. You can apply Black Salve and a bandaid overnight for painful, large pimples. I made my first Black Salve after getting fed up with the "simpler" method of applying plain activated charcoal powder with 1 drop essential oil in a bandaid. But activated charcoal is a very fine, very light powder, and the process of putting it into a bandaid always got messy. So I started mixing it up in 1/8 teaspoon quantities with ready made salve from the first aid kit, and then wondered why I wasn't just making up a Black Salve properly so it was ready to go when I needed it!

Black Salve also works really well on drawing out pain and poison from bee stings, spider bites, mosquito bites, so I find a little lip balm tube and a few bandaids are very handy to add to our busy bag when we visit places. People often give me skeptical face, but when at the park and without fresh plantain, a little Black Rapha goes a long way to soothing a bee sting obtained by sitting on the poor bee on the grass!

The History of black salve is somewhat tainted. It was known as cansema, an alternative cancer treatment, and was a highly controversial quack remedy. Indian black salves contained ingredients similar to activated charcoal (more crude charcoals not made of white willow), and sometimes clays and wild honey, and are still marketed in some places today as an alternative to allopathic treatment for various ailments internally and externally. Really, my black salve is just a black salve because of the color, in the same way that a green salve is colored green from the herbs used, or red salve contains a high amount of St John's wort which colors the oil red, but not because I'm trying to reproduce an older folk remedy in particular. Some of the oldest recipes for black salve that I have found contained tar, which is certainly not anything I would recommend for you to use! You can have a lot of fun researching the history of black salves, though.


I so often have variations! I hope you know by now that there are so many ways to create herbal medicines that there are some basic guidelines for handling herbs but few major wrongs outside of those guidelines 

Herbal oil -- use Rapha mix, calendula, plantain, lavender, comfrey, white willow bark, chamomile, St John's wort, or a plain liquid oil

Add essential oils -- lavender, tea tree (melaleuca), thyme, oregano, eucalyptus, chamomile, being sure to dilute to a sensible strength appropriate to the other herbs used in the salve. FYI, there are 24 teaspoons in 4 ounces of salve.

Add bentonite clay or green clay powder, too. Clay will thicken up the salve just a touch but does add more punch to the toxin drawing power.

Add honey a la Wellness Mama's recipe.

Love to know herbs website also details a very similar black drawing salve.

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