Propolis Tincture, Oil, and Salve

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As promised, here is my thread about making useful health and first aid products out of propolis.  I learned all these methods from the book Beehive Alchemy by Petra Ahnert, and I would highly recommend both her books, as they are a wealth of information regarding making many, many different things from hive products. 

The first step is to tincture the propolis.  Once dissolved in alcohol, it will be more convenient to use.  The tincture can be used as is on small wounds, sores, etc., and it can also be taken internally by putting a few drops into some other liquid.

Hive scrapings: Whenever I'm cleaning boxes or frames I make a ball of mostly wax and a ball of mostly propolis.  Before tincturing, I put the proplis balls in the freezer in a baggy, and once they are good and frozen, I smash them up with a hammer.  Propolis is a non-Newtonian solid (like Thinking Putty, if anyone is familiar with that, and ketchup actually), so it will freeze extremely brittle.  You could just use the ball whole, but it will dissolve much faster with more surface area, of course.
95% pure grain alcohol: I use Everclear, since it's what I can get.  You want as strong as you can buy.  Propolis is only alcohol soluble, so the stronger the alcohol, the faster it will dissolve.
A jar large enough to hold the scrapings with a tight fitting lid: I use a half pint mason jar.
A jar or other glass container to hold the final tincture: I use another half pint mason jar.
Paper coffee filters: I just get the cheap but not cheapest ones at Walmart.  I find the cheapest of the cheap ones clog really fast.
Rubber bands: Helpful for securing the coffee filters, as this can take a while to strain if there is a lot of wax and junk in your propolis. 

1. Pour the crushed up propolis into the jar and cover with enough alcohol to completely submerge the propolis. 
2. Set the jar aside somewhere and shake it occasionally to mix and break up any chunks.
3. After at least a week (I often let mine go for WEEKS before I get around to it), strain the liquid through the coffee filter.  Oftentimes, you can get another round of tincture out of the propolis, so I will usually just pour the nice clear liquid off the top of the jar and strain that, then go again. 

The jar in the front of this picture is my strained tincture ready for use, and the jar in the back needs to be strained.  The tincture will keep essentially indefinitely.   

Part Two: Propolis Oil, Coming Soon!

Ben Framed:
Awesome! Thank You Reagan!


The next step in using propolis is making propolis oil.  Just like the tincture, it's perfectly fine to stop here for many different applications.  If you don't mind the greasiness, it's fine to use for first aid applications, and oddly enough, it's a great eye drop for treating eye infections.  My sister has used it this way on her goats when they had pink eye earlier this winter.

Propolis tincture: See original post.
Castor oil: I'm not sure exactly why castor is the recommended oil; I haven't been able to find an answer.  I'm planning on trying to make this with a different base oil, probably olive, as an experiment, but I haven't done it yet.  That said, if you were making this with eye drops in mind, castor is very good for the eyes and is actually an ingredient in some over-the-counter eye drops.
Cheesecloth or similar very porous fabric or screen (optional): Cheesecloth is what I have around since I have a sister who makes cheese, but anything flexible with a lot of small holes would work.   
Glass jar or similar (optional): If your propolis tincture jar is very full, you will need a larger jar.  If however like me, your tincture jar is not very full, you can just use that jar.  A mason jar is preferable as the ring is going to come in handy.

1. Take the filtered propolis tincture and add an equal amount of castor oil.  Do not worry about measuring anything here, it's not rocket science; just add enough oil to approximately double the volume.   
2. Stir well to incorporate. 
3. Take your cheesecloth or similar, lay it over the top of the jar, and secure it with the jar ring.  I do this basically to keep dust and pet hair (3 cats and 2 dogs in the house) out of the open top of the jar.  If you can set the jar inside a cabinet or something, or if you live in a more sterile and hairless environment than I do :grin:, you can skip this step. 
4. Leave the jar sit open for about 2 weeks (or more), stirring occasionally, until the alcohol has evaporated off, leaving the propolis infused into the oil.  I usually mark the level of the mixture with a piece of tape, that way I know it's done when the level has significantly reduced. 


Tune in next time for . . . Part Three: Propolis Salve!  :happy:

And now we have the piece de resistance, propolis salve.  I use it on small cuts all the time, it helped to clear up a spot of ringworm my sister's guinea pig had behind her ears, and my mom recently had a little infection under her fingernail and it worked for that too (that's why there are lots of little fingernail marks in the jar in the picture).  :grin:

13.5g propolis oil: See reply #2.
23.8g beeswax: In the future, I'm probably going to add a little less, since the salve is a little stiff for my taste.
47g other liquid oil(s): The original recipe calls for 15.5g olive, 16g of almond, and 15.5g of grapeseed.  I didn't have any grapeseed, so I just did 31g olive and 16g almond.  I'm guessing the reason for the different oils is different properties of healing for the skin, but I imagine you could also just make this with 70.8g propolis oil and the beeswax and it would work.  I'll probably try that sometime, just to see.
4g Vit. E oil: My sister has Vit. E on hand for goats, so I just break open and squeeze in a couple of capsules. 
Small tin(s) or jar(s): I use 4 oz. canning jars for stuff like this.   
Yield: ~90 mL or 3 oz. 

1. Heat the beeswax and non-propolis oils in a double boiler or in the microwave until completely melted. 
2. Remove from heat (if using a double boiler) and add Vit. E and propolis oil.  Stir to mix well.
3. Pour into tin(s) or jar(s).  The mixture will set up as it cools.

Yes, that is the original recipe in the background. :grin:

If anyone has any questions just let me know.  Something else I'm going to try in the future for making healing salves is making herbal-infused oils to use in this recipe for a one-two, propolis-herbal punch, if you will.  I make all sorts of stuff like this, lotions and scrubs and wood conditioner and junk (most of which are adapted from Petra's books).  I'm working on homemade deodorant and toothpaste right now.  If people are liking this sort of instructional thread, I can do more of them.  Just let me know what you think.  :happy:   

Ben Framed:
I like it Reagan. Thank you for following up with this.



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