How to make Kawakawa Balm
How to Make Kawakawa Balm
The Kawakawa plant has a long history as an important component in traditional Māori medicine (rongoā.) It is still widely used today. Its powerful anti-microbial properties which inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi make it useful in treating a range of conditions, including infections and inflammation, while its analgesic properties help relieve pain and soothe sore muscles. Kawakawa also has an important cultural significance with woven wreaths of kawakawa worn on heads at tangi as a sign of mourning and also on marae to welcome guests.
We make a wonderful, healing kawakawa balm using kawakawa, mānuka oil and beeswax and show you how to make your own basic kawakawa balm below.
The recipe below will make about 500 grams of kawakawa balm that will last you a long time!
What you need
- 2 stainless steel pots (5L or more)
- 1 sieve
- 1 thermometer
- 1 wooden or stainless steel mixing spoon
- 1 funnel
- Some empty jars anywhere between 60mls and 500mls
- 500 grams of freshly picked kawakawa leaves (or a good handful or two!)
- 70 grams of beeswax
- 500 grams of sweet almond oil, coconut oil or olive oil (any of them will work well!)
- Optional other essential oil e.g. mānuka (for scent or for therapeutic properties)
- The first step in the process is to harvest the kawakawa.
- Second, in a stainless steel pot, steep the kawakawa leaves in the sweet oil you are using for 1 week. This is the cold extraction method.
- After a week, gently heat the sweet almond oil and kawakawa leaf combination for 1 hour at approximately 70 degrees (heat extraction). If you're running short of time you can skip the cold infusion process, but it won't be as content rich of kawakawa bioactives.
- Use the sieve and second stainless steel pot to strain/remove the kawakawa leaves and plant material.
- Return to heat and add beeswax and mix occasionally. Once the beeswax has turned liquid and mixed through, we are ready to jar. Note if you wish to add an essential oil for scent or for therapeutic benefit, add this now and mix thoroughly. (We use mānuka oil because of its anti-bacterial benefit.)
- Use the funnel to fill your empty jars and leave in the jars with lids on to set overnight.
How do you collect kawakawa sustainably and in accordance with tikanga?
We do a karakia before harvesting. Carefully cut the branches with sharp secateurs or a knife, being careful not to tear the plant. We only take as much as we will use, without damaging the plant. Harvest only from north-facing plants because they get the most sunlight so they grow back faster. Only take a small quantity from any one plant so that the plant as a whole does not become stressed. Look for fresh leaves. A mid-point between extra-glossy and matt and wan is best. See if the dark green colour shines through the leaf! Often leaves have been nibbled by the looper caterpillar. Try another bush - don’t lose heart! If it is growing in a certain area, there will be others around.
How do you use kawakawa balm?
Healing Kawakawa Balm is an extremely versatile product and can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. Application: scoop a small portion onto your finger and massage slowly into the affected area. And apply as often as needed.
Kawakawa balm is great for:
- Athletes for blisters
- Eczema and psoriasis, plus dermatitis
- Skin reparation for wear and tear
- Soothing bumps and bruises or inflammation or broken blood cells
- Chapped or weathered lips
- Nappy rash or other skin irritations
- Joint pain
- Dry skin
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