A while ago, I watched Burt’s Buzz, a thought-provoking documentary about Burt Shavitz (1935-2015), the face and co-founder of Burt’s Bees. Afterwards, feeling inspired (and suddenly noticing my jar of beeswax flakes protruding out of the storage box), I decided I’d like to make a soothing salve. Seeing as I’d also bought a bottle of pumpkin seed oil recently (having come across a number of online articles about its benefits, such as this one), I found myself thus typing “pumpkin seed oil beeswax salve” into the Google search bar to see if it would bring up any interesting recipes or ideas.
Can you guess what came top in the search results? Burt’s Bees Miracle Salve! What a bizarre coincidence, given I’d just finished watching the documentary! Curious about this product, I clicked on the link. Disappointingly, the URL didn’t work as it redirected me to Burt’s Bees UK website, which for some reason couldn’t then link me to the product (I’m guessing the salve is only available in the US?). Undeterred, I viewed the cached page of the URL – and bingo! – the correct product page loaded right away: apparently, the salve, a “super-enriched emollient formula bursting with Pumpkin Seed Oil, Olive Oil, Wheat Germ, Bee Pollen and Beeswax”, can be used on hair, hands and body. Next, I clicked on the “Ingredients” tab and this is what I saw:
olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, beeswax, cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed extract, pollen extract, glycine soja (soybean) seed extract, olea europaea (olive) fruit extract, triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract, adenophora stricta (ladybell) root extract
A touch of creativity
My first thought was: Hmm, this list of ingredients is pretty short. This was swiftly followed by: Is this something I could have a go at making? Let’s see – in addition to my pumpkin seed oil and beeswax, I knew I also had a bottle of wheat germ oil; while I didn’t have any olive oil (apart from a bottle for cooking, which I wasn’t so keen on using), I did have some jojoba oil, a stable oil good for blending … Unfortunately, I didn’t have any pollen, soyabean seed or ladybell root extracts either – but why should I let that stop me? So this is where a bit of creativity came into play. I knew I wanted to make a soft salve, but at the same time I didn’t want it to be too oily; adding a bit of mango butter into the mix, I figured, could add a bit of thickness and give the salve a slightly creamy texture (and would help it set). Furthermore, taking inspiration from the cabin Burt Shavitz lived in (in rural Maine), I decided that my salve should evoke a sense of the great outdoors and natural living: I’d do this by throwing in a few drops of tea tree, rosemary and peppermint essential oils.
After around 10 minutes of melting, stirring and mixing, followed by a few hours of waiting (for the mixture to set in the fridge), I finally had in front of me a pot of soft, nourishing salve with an invigorating, pine-like, menthol scent. Obviously, having never actually tried the Miracle Salve I can’t compare the two, but the important thing is that I like what I made, and I hope you will, too! So go ahead, give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think!
- 7.5g jojoba oil
- 7.5g pumpkin seed oil
- 7.5g wheatgerm oil
- 5g beeswax
- 3g mango butter
- 4 drops (approx. 0.15g) natural vitamin E
- 3 drops (approx. 0.12g) peppermint essential oil
- 2 drops (approx. 0.09g) tea tree oil
- 2 drops (approx. 0.09g) rosemary essential oil
The above will make around 30g of salve. If you prefer a harder balm, you can try upping the amount of wax and/or butter slightly, or reducing the amount of oils. Whatever you do, try to make sure that your essential oil amounts don’t exceed 1% (0.3g) of the combined weight of all the ingredients (30g).
- Clean all your utensils and containers before you begin.
- Prepare a double boiler by filling one-third of a saucepan with boiling water.
- Place the saucepan over a stove and reduce the heat to a simmer. Carefully place a heatproof measuring jug inside the saucepan – make sure the water doesn’t spill out.
- Add the beeswax to the jug, stirring slowly until it melts.
- Once the wax has melted, add in the mango butter and stir the mixture. Keep the heat on low – or turn it off if you feel the water in the double boiler is still hot enough to melt the butter. The important thing is not to overheat and boil the mixture.
- When the butter has melted, take the jug out of the saucepan. Add in the jojoba, pumpkin seed and wheat germ oils and stir until everything is mixed. The mixture should now resemble a lovely golden colour. If the mixture looks like it is setting, place the jug back inside the saucepan of warm water – the residual heat from the water should keep the mixture in a liquid state.
- Finally, add in the drops of tea tree oil, peppermint and rosemary essential oils and the natural vitamin E. Stir to mix everything.
- Wipe the base dry with a kitchen towel (to prevent water on the outside of the jug from accidentally dripping into your mixture when you’re pouring it into your containers).
- Give the mixture one final stir. Then, carefully (but quickly!) pour the mixture into your empty containers.
- Place a lid loosely on top of each container. Transfer your pots of salve to the fridge and let them set for a few hours, after which your salve should be ready!