The following recipe was published in the Nov/Dec '11 issue of The Essential Herbal Magazine. There has been some discussion of how wonderful it is on the magazine's email list recently, so Marci gave me permission to post it here to share more widely.
FIRE & ICE BALM
Marci Tsohonis/Monitor, WA.
I’ve been working on this recipe for years, changing and trying to improve it each time. Family members with chronic pain issues were very candid Testers, and motivated me to get it right. I think it’s finally there. I offer blanket credit to every author of all the Herbal books I’ve ever read. This recipe has evolved from all of them, but is a copy of none.
Counter-irritant ingredients confuse pain receptors, temporarily neutralizing the pain of sore muscles, lower back aches, tendonitis, arthritis and other sore spots. A tin of this balm makes a great gift, and is a valuable addition to your medicine cabinet.
This balm is intended to be applied sparingly, and is for short term use.
Gather the tins or jars you plan to use and place in the area where you’ll make this salve. Instructions below suggest a crock pot, but you can make it successfully on the stove in a Pyrex measuring cup set inside a saucepan.
6-8 oz. Bee’s Wax
4 TBS. (1 oz) Menthol Crystals
2 oz Olive Oil
Combine in tightly sealed jar. Stir well, then set aside, at least overnight.
The Menthol Crystals will slowly dissolve into the oil.
NOTE: I learned the hard way NOT to melt Menthol Crystals into oil with applied heat. Menthol Crystals are unbelievably intense when heated! My entire house smelled like a jar of Vick’s Vapo-Rub for many hours. I learned the proper way to dissolve Menthol Crystals from Dina Falconi in her book, Earthly Bodies, Heavenly Hair.
Combine in small crock pot:
16 oz. Olive Oil
1 TBS. powdered (or 2 broken) Cayenne Peppers, with seeds
1 small-medium hand of fresh Ginger Root, peeled and grated
1 Bay Leaf, broken in pieces
Heat in a small Crock Pot without using lid. Heat on lowest setting (several times) over a period of 1-2 days to evaporate all water content in the Cayenne or Ginger Root. The ideal temperature range is 95-110. If oil tests warmer than that, turn it off for an hour, then repeat. Don’t allow the oil to boil. I have made this balm without infusing the 2 cups of olive oil, when I was in a hurry, but I am sure it has a little extra worthwhile zing when it is infused.
Combine Essential Oils in tightly lidded jar.
1 oz. Eucalyptus Globulus EO
1/2-1 oz. Ginger EO
1/2 oz. Camphor EO
1 oz. Cajeput EO
1/2-1oz Black Pepper EO
1/4-1/2 oz. Wintergreen EO
Arrange tins or jars close together on a tray or cookie sheet, setting the lids around the edges of the tray where they will be easy to grab. As you fill each tin, you’ll immediately lay the lid over it, without pushing down or securing it. This action will help keep the volatile oils from evaporating as the balm cools in the tins.
STRAIN THE 2 CUPS OF INFUSED OLIVE OIL through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter, discarding the grated Ginger Root, Cayenne and Bay Leaf. Return the oil to the crock pot, and replace any lost to the cheesecloth, to make 16 oz.
Stir in Bee’s wax. Melt over medium low heat, stirring with wand occasionally, while heating to about 145-149 degrees, at which the Bee’s Wax melts. When the last pieces of Bee’s Wax appear translucent and are almost melted, turn off heat. Stir a couple more times till no Bee’s Wax chunks are visible. Check temperature. When it has cooled to 140 degrees, stir in the Essential oils and the Mentholated Olive oil. Immediately begin ladling into the tins or jars. Fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top edge. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours before tightening lids or moving the tray.
HINT: Some people prefer to pour the liquid balm into the tins. It cools very quickly during pouring and piles up on the measuring cup spout, adding more work and re-melting. I seem to get it everywhere except into the tins when using that method! I prefer to ladle it into the tins with a small, stainless ladle, even if I’ve used a Pyrex measuring cup to make it.