Tools You Need in Your Home Apothecary
I started making my own home remedies and beauty products a little over a year ago. That just seems crazy to me! Before that, I had little knowledge on how to use herbs and oils in my everyday life for healing as well as uses around my home and garden. In fact, the only thing I really knew was that herbs were used in the past to cure people... for what, I didn't know! Today, I use herbs everyday. Mostly, they're used in our cooking and meals because we as a family are rarely sick, but I have used them before in medicinal teas, poultices, and other things. I have yet to make a tincture, but I will get there one day! They can also be used to make healing salves, rubs, lotions, shampoos, and various other beauty related products. What's not to love about being able to heal at home?
I wanted to come up with some fun organizational posts to share with you all because starting this whole homesteading journey, or even just collecting practices that modern homesteaders use, can be confusing! Where do I begin? Where do I get all of this stuff?! It does seem like a lot, especially when I share an herbal recipe and get the statement, "All of these ingredients are expensive!" You know what, I have to agree. It's overwhelming when you're set to buy the ingredients for your first herbal recipe. Totally get it - a hundred and ten percent! The nice thing is, if you happen to enjoy making your own home remedies, you have a pretty high chance of using all of your ingredients again. Probably multiple times! Those essential oils and carrier oils? They'll be grabbed more often than you can think!
One of the things that I have noticed over the course of sharing homemade remedies, more specifically the kind that involves beeswax, is getting the question: "What do I use to make this recipe in?" which results in me going back through the recipe and mentioning that you should probably find an old pot you no longer want to use for food, or perhaps taking a stop at the thrift store and purchasing a small soup pot for a dollar. The tools that you use for making herbal recipes should 1. be clean and 2. be cheap and not used for anything other than this type of "cooking." You don't cook where you conjure, right? Not to say we're actually doing anything of the divine or whatever over here, you are creating a nifty little recipe that could potentially be eaten, but I don't think any of us desire to do that. So buy a special set of tools just for this, you'll be safer, and I'll feel better.
- An old saucepan, small enough to fit inside a larger saucepan (for makeshift double boiler purposes)
- Wooden spoons, preferably two or more (metals can leach into your recipes!)
- Tins, bottles, and jars (look for amber bottles! clear bottles can make the oils inside less potent)
- Mortar and Pestle (not necessary, but can be helpful)
- Measuring cups and spoons (for home remedies only)
Let's just start of the bat with these things: oils. They're being discussed on basically every corner of the internet; the best things since multivitamins, and they can heal EVERYTHING. Right? You've heard it all. Truthfully, as a skeptic, I have actually found that these little essential oils, and the carrier oils, can actually work wonders if you're looking to find an option other than visiting your doctor. I use oils almost everyday. I am a Wellness Advocate for DoTerra, which you can read more about here. If you have any questions or would like to purchase oils through me, I would love to help you out!
I use essential and carrier oils for all sorts of things like making salves and healing recipes to hair and beauty recipes like a face serum or dry shampoo. You need these in your home apothecary because they're basically the healing mechanism of any home remedy you could make. When it comes to essential oils, I really don't know which to tell you to purchase. That is up to your personal preference and needs. I use quite a bit of lavender essential oil on a daily basis for home remedies, as it calms and heals. Peppermint is another common oil to have around, cedarwood is good for garden pests, and lemon I like to add to cleaning solutions.
As for carrier oils, you'll definitely need at least one! My favorites to work with are coconut oil and jojoba. These oils are used to dilute essential oils so that they do not harm your skin. They "carry" the essential oil in recipes. Plus they also have many healing properties themselves! A few others you could try at an affordable price are Apricot Kernel oil, Sweet Almond oil, or Grapeseed oil.
Butters! Botanical butters are perfect for adding to recipes that deal with your skin. You can use them in lotions, lip balms, salves, soaps, and other body care recipes. I tend to melt mine to make recipes, but you can also whip them up and create something amazing! The most commonly used butters in easy home remedy recipes are cocoa butter and shea butter. I have also been wanting to get my hands on some mango butter because I hear it makes an amazing lip balm! If you are planning to make some lip balm in your near future, add some botanical butter to your list!
Want to make some face masks and maybe even your own toothpaste? Clays are great for that! They contain minerals and other abilities that draw out toxins. I have used bentonite clay powder in many recipes, mostly for face masks, and love it. I keep a mason jar filled in my pantry for days when my skin needs some love. Also look into some French Green Clay! Yum!!
While clays and butters are wonderful, and I do think you should have one or two on hand to make some body care recipes, salts are something that I use just as often as oils! My favorites are dead sea salt, epsom salt, and Himalayan pink salt. These are great for making simple recipes like a bath tea or even bath bombs. Have you ever tried making bath bombs? Oh, they are addicting! And only take minutes. In fact, it takes longer to get all of your ingredients out of the cupboard than it does to actually make the bath bomb. Definitely grab some dead sea salt and epsom salt to make these!
There are many uses for wax besides remedies and body care recipes, but if you want to create some homemade healing salves and lip butters, then you have to have wax on hand. For most recipes, they call for beeswax, which is what you will find here on my blog. I have a lot of beeswax on hand, and I keep it in an old crockpot that is used for nothing else! It works like a charm, and I always have plenty left over. The nice thing about sourcing beeswax is that you can usually find it for sale locally. Just head to the google! Or stop at your local farmer's market and ask your honey farmer if they sell their beeswax. You might be surprised! For me, I usually purchase from local from Ebert's Honey. They sell their beeswax online and in bulk. Hopefully we will be getting some from our bees next year!
My favorite ingredients - herbs! One of my most popular blog posts ever is our "Herbal Bath Tea Recipes" post from way back when! This was one of the first herbal recipes I ever made, and the rest was history. It was for that post that Willow and Sage Magazine contacted me for a feature, and I absolutely adore working with the team over there! You can find herbs in all sorts of places. If you are not the type to grow your own, then I always suggest Mountain Rose Herbs. I have purchased from them a few times for other ingredients, and they do a great job. All organic and sourced ethically. But I highly suggest just growing your own! It's really fun; you may not get a lot in the first few years, but if you are working with perennial herbs, then your crop will get better each year. This year I was given a great lemon balm, basil, sage, thyme, and chamomile crop. So thankful! They have been drying all over my house for the past couple of months, and I am excited to continue harvesting them over autumn. My lavender just started producing like crazy, so I have been scrambling to harvest and dry it all!
Why do you need herbs? Well, they're the staple for most home remedies. Even if you never get to making lip balms and lotions, you will be making tea. Truthfully, that's where all home remedies start in my opinion. Have a cold? The first suggestion you'll find is to make an herbal tea. Can't sleep? Have stomach pain? Constipation? Headache? Sore Throat? You can cure most things with an easy herbal tea, and the best way to make them is yourself. Don't go out and purchase a commercially packaged and processed tea with hardly any whole leaves. Just buy some herbs in bulk and mix it up yourself. It works wonders and is much better for you! You can even make your own essential oils by storing fresh herbs in a carrier oil for a few months in the pantry. Pretty fancy! Don't pass these up.
Not sure where to start when it comes to making herbal teas and which herbs to use? Check out my herbal medicine research round up post! All of the info you need is packed inside.
Did I miss anything?! I tried to just cover the basics and not get too carried away with interesting ingredients. If you even wanted to make this list shorter, you can actually create quite a few things with just oils, herbs, and wax. If you want to make any sort of balm, you do need cosmetic butters, but if you're looking to just make a simple salve... wax and oil is all you need. Pretty sweet! Actually, one of my favorite things to do is turn big bricks of beeswax into my cute little sample sizes. There's really no need for it other than it's cute! I use this silicone mold to make them. I basically get everything off of Amazon - ha! And under $20. Woot!
What do you like to have in your home apothecary? Are you inspired to start one? Be sure to check out my home remedy recipes in our series Herbal Interests to see the kinds of things you can make! All of my recipes take less than 24 hours to make and are really easy and safe to try! (: Remember, I'm not a certified herbalist or holistic doctor. Just a hobbyist!