Yarrow Essential Oil and How to make a Balm

Yarrow - painted by Elena Light
Yarrow – painted by Elena Light
Many people are unaware that yarrow, Achillea millifolium, a common plant growing abundantly in British country side, actually produces a very powerful, useful and rather beautiful essential oil.

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It’s an oil that stands out when you see its striking, ink blue colour, which is very unusual for an essential oil. The plant itself is made up of an umbrella of little white flowers, sometimes pink, but during the production process, a naturally occurring chemical component in the plant called chamazulene, turns bright blue.

yarrow flower and blue essential oil

Most essential oils come in tinted glass bottles as they are sensitive to light, so it’s rare to see such amazing colours as in the below photo.

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Bright blue yarrow essential oil.
Chamazulene is also the particular part that makes yarrow so useful as it is anti-inflammatory in effect and therefore useful for any condition where inflammation is present, for example:

Arthritis, allergies, bumps, bruises, breaks, gout, strains & sprains.

Even conditions such as period pain and back ache can be helped by using yarrow because of the presence of inflammation.

Yarrow & Lavender Balm Recipe – for pain and inflammation.

A balm is a very practical method of application for areas of inflammation. I would recommend applying this simple balm, made with yarrow and lavender essential oil, twice daily. Massage in very gentle anti-clockwise circles to the affected area, if the area is too tender to touch, or is an open wound then apply the balm as close to the site as is comfortable.

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Ingredients ~ to make 100 ml pot:

  • 10g beeswax
  • 10g shea butter
  • 80g or ml of base oil, e.g. Olive oil or Almond oil
  • yarrow essential oil – 40 drops (2ml)
  • lavender essential oil – 60 drops (3ml)
  • vitamin E (optional)

Caution ~ yarrow can contain a varying amount of camphor in it, which means it is advisable to avoid with epilepsy, in pregnancy, and could cause sensitisation in ragweed allergy sufferers.

See my blog on ‘How to make a Massage or Body Balm’ for full recipe instructions.

Blue chamomile essential oil, Matricaria recutita (also known as German chamomile) also appears blue in colour, it contains the same anti-inflammatory agent chamazulene and would be suitable for all of the above inflammatory conditions. Click here to purchase this essential oil.

See my blog on Lavender & Chamomile for Hay fever for more details.

How to make a Massage or Body Balm

how to make a balm

A balm is a great way to use essential oils on the skin, it’s simple to make, easy to apply and feels lovely. It can also be used in a variety of ways, I have included recipes for ‘chest’, ‘pain’, ‘cleansing’ and ‘beauty’  balms below but you can tailor the essential oils in the recipe to suit you personally, (see my blog ‘A List of Essential Oils & their Uses‘ for help choosing).

The following recipe makes a good consistency for general use.  It is fairly soft, so ideal for massaging into the skin on your face and body as a nourishing treatment and as a massage balm to lubricate the skin and nourish during massage.

To make 2 x 50ml pots

Recipe for a basic Balm

  • 10g Beeswax
  • 10g Shea butter
  • 80g or ml of base oil, e.g. Olive oil or Almond oil
  • Essential oil(s) of your choice (up to 5ml, see below for inspirations and how many drops to use)
  • Vitamin E, 5 drops (optional)

About the ingredients:

As well giving the balm it’s consistency, beeswax gives a protective and nourishing feel.  Shea butter gives it a creamy smoothness. And then there are the base oils, I usually use almond, apricot or olive oil, which all give it a lovely nourishing feel, but feel free to substitute with what ever you have handy or to experiment with various types, (see my blog ‘A List of Carrier Oils & their Uses‘ for help choosing). Vitamin E is a natural preservative so will help your balm last longer (approx.18 months), I use a soy (GMO free) derived version.

You can buy most of the ingredients from myself, except for the beeswax, which I buy from local bee keepers or honey sellers. I would recommend buying the beeswax in pellet form or sheets, as it’s easier to manage, solid blocks are difficult to break up.

You can adjust the ingredients to suit you as you wish, if you want it softer (for a cleansing balm*), use less beeswax (5g), and if you want it harder (for a lip balm) then use more beeswax (15-20g).

Equipment

  • Scales
  • Measuring jug
  • Bain marie (a sauce pan for heating water with another pan on top to avoid heating ingredients directly).
  • Pots (2 x 50ml glass jars)
  • Chopstick for stirring and blending

Instructions

  • Sterilise the pots by putting boiling water in them for a few minutes, then empty and ensure they are completely dry. This is important as the balm can go rancid if mixed with water.
  • Weigh out the beeswax and shea butter using the scale and weigh or measure out the base oil.
  • Use a bain marie to melt the bees wax and shea butter, then add the base oil.  As soon as it’s completely melted remove from the heat.
  • Let it cool a little before adding essential oils and vitamin e, so they are not affected by the heat.  If it begins to solidify give the mixture a stir.
  • Pour the mixture into the containers and leave to cool and set.
  • TIP: I often pour the mix into the jars before adding essential oils, so I can make each pot a different flavour. Decide on which oils  and how many drops to add in advance, as the mix will solidify quickly once in the pots.

Useful Balm Recipes:

Here are some recipes for common uses,  just use the balm recipe above and add the following essential oils.

Chest Balm (to add to the 100ml balm recipe above)

5% blend strength for application to chest to support colds, coughs and chest infections.

Thyme – 20 drops (1ml)

Eucaplyptus – 20 drops (1ml)

Lavender or Spike Lavender – 20 drops (1ml)

Myrrh – 40 drops (2ml)

Pain & Inflammation Balm (to add to the 100ml balm recipe above)

5% blend strength for use on specific effected areas.

Chamomile (german) – 40 drops (2ml)

Clove – 20 drops (1ml)

Lavender or Lavandin – 40 drops (2ml)

Cleansing Balm (to add to the 100ml balm recipe above)

1% blend strength for use on the face

Lavender – 10 drops (0.5ml)

Lemon – 10 drops (0.5ml)

You can use this balm to cleanse your face, remove makeup and grime, just rinse with warm water or a warm cloth afterwards and your skin will be left feeling silky soft.

Beauty Balm (to add to the 100ml balm recipe above)

Use at 2.5% blend strength for stretch marks and scars, and 0.5% to use as a night time nourishing facial treatment.

Rose – 10 drops (2.5%) or 2 drops (0.5%)

Myrrh- 20 drops (2.5%) or 4 drops (0.5%)

Lavender- 20 drops (2.5%) or 4 drops (0.5%)

To help you choose which essential oils to use in your balm, click here to see my List of Essential Oils and their uses. The list is constantly expanding so if there are any oils missing from the list, just let me know and they will be next to appear.

You can pick as many or as few oils as you like, but just ensure the total blend strength is appropriate (see blend strength charts below).

How much essential oil to use

1% Delicate blend strength (for face, damaged, sensitive skin & children)
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 2
30ml 6
50ml 10
100ml 20
2.5% General blend strength
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 5
30ml 15
50ml 25
100ml 50
5% Strong blend strength (for specific areas of the body only eg. an arthritic knee or back ache)
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 10 drops (0.5ml)
30ml 30 drops (1.5ml)
50ml 50 drops (2.5ml)
100ml 100 drops (5ml)

*Coconut oil is also useful for a cleansing balm as it’s very greasy and lifts dirt and grime gently from your skin, it’s great to use on its own for removing eye make-up.