I’m having an affair – with herbs

In my previous posts, I have mentioned that I have always wanted an apothecary, so finally, after all these years, I am building one — and I am in love!

Having recently acquired some herbs I never tried before, and organizing them all into jars in my apothecary (china) cabinet, I wanted to make a post about why I chose those herbs and my experience with them so far.

I have been on vacation the week of Thanksgiving and have been making a large variety of bath and body products that I will post about soon.   However, of all the things I made this week, I loved the herbs the most.  There is just something so “grounding” about smelling the herbs, touching them, and turning them into wholesome bath and body products that are good for your skin, hair, and mind.   When I am working with them, I feel like an alchemist.   Sometimes when I am making soap or bath products I feel like a chemist, but with the herbs, I feel like I should be wearing a black cloak, sporting a long beard, and waving a magic wand.

I have collected my herbs from various places.   I bought a few from Brambleberry to get started.  They were largely for soap making.  Then I picked up a few at Camden Grey.  Finally, and most recently, I found Glenbrook Farms.  They have a really great selection and very reasonable prices.  They also shipped very quickly and the herbs I got from them are fresh and were well-packaged.

I made some labels for my herb jars.  I have yet to print them up yet, but that is another story.   I will start with this, as it is the inventory of my collection so far.

herb-labels

I chose these herbs for a variety of reasons.   Some are for soap making (annatto seed makes a great soap colorant), others are for skin potions.  Some are for hair strength and health.  Others are for pure decoration.   Many of them cross into multiple areas.    Rosemary, for example, is great for hair, but also for pain relief and aromatherapy.  You can also cook with it.  Nettle leaf is great for skin, hair, soap making, and you can make tinctures with it.

It is not working with one herb or the other that is so intriguing.  What I find intriguing is selecting a mixture of herbs to make a potion containing the properties you want to achieve for your product.  For example, you might select calendula, chamomile, and lavender for a wonderful skin salve.  You might even throw in a little nettle, plantain, and comfrey to help with any skin abrasions.   Or you might throw in a little bit of yarrow to calm any skin inflammation.    The choices are all up to you, depending on the outcome you want to achieve.

herbs1

During this vacation, I concocted a few different brews and made some herb infused oils for making salves and soap with.  I also made a wonderful hair tonic tea, which I later used for making a lotion-based hair conditioner.    Finally, I made some tub tea which smells out-of-this-world wonderful.

tubtea1

Sometimes the herbs surprise you.   I made a hair tonic tea to use as a base for my silky hair conditioner.  Nothing about these herbs, especially in such a  small amount each, gave me any indication of the color it would produce.  Nor of the smell.  It smelled a lot like blueberries for some reason and was so heavenly!

hairtonic2

Wow, that is some serious red!  And when I used it in my conditioner, it turned the most lovely shade of pink.   I know it will turn brown, and that is OK, because I know that it doesn’t mean it’s spoiled, it is just an organic material oxidizing.  It will still have all the wonderful benefits of the herbs whether it is pink or brown.

conditioner1

I realize I have SO much learning to do about herbs, but the fun part is that you can learn as you experiment.  Each project you make you learn a little more as you do your research to select the perfect herbs for that project.   I just can’t wait to take a bath with my tub tea, or a shower with my hair conditioner.   I am so excited to go down this path and learn how to make tinctures and other herbal remedies.

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