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Basic Principles in Making Ointments

This document provides the principles in making ointments from plant derived ingredients in a home setting, it being the instruction sheet used in the segment on making ointments in the Medicinal Herb Seminars held at Pindari . 
(161109)

Introduction

Ointments may be used as skin conditioners and as a means of treating skin conditions, they are mostly simple to make with the base ingredients being readily available.

Definitions

Ingredients for ointment bases:

Medications that may be added.

Quality and efficacy  
The ingredients used in making an ointment directly influences its quality and efficacy.

For optimum quality use:

Storage

Ointments containing unsaturated oils (omega 6 and especially omega 3) must be kept away from light, air and kept cool. In warm to hot climates they are best kept refrigerated.  A batch number and the expiry date should be included on the label. 

Manufacturing procedure

General comments:

Steps

  1. To make the ointment base, weigh out the oil and wax components into a suitable stainless vessel and heat them by placing in a heated water bath. Do this until they have just melted. 

  2. Remove from the bath and with stirring, allow the mix to cool until just starting to set. This is indicated by thickening and a milky appearance. You can encourage cooling by placing the mixing vessel in or over a cold-water bath but use constant stirring and remove the set ointment from the sides of the vessel, stirring it back into the liquid. 

  3. Have the other ingredients ready to be added directly by weighing into the vessel or from separate measuring containers. 

  4. Place the mix back in the un-heated hot water bath to maintain a little heat input and to the non-lumpy liquid ointment slowly and separately add the aqueous/alcohol ingredients with vigorous stirring . Excessive heat will evaporate alcohol leading to insoluble herb deposits in the ointment. 

  5. Then add the Rosemary antioxidant and infused essential oils slowly with vigorous stirring.

  6. Then add the fragrant essential oils with vigorous stirring.

  7. Last add the highly unsaturated oils such as Flax seed oil slowly and stir until the liquid mix is clear of solids.

  8.  If lumps are still present, with vigorous stirring apply a little heat by placing briefly in a gently heated water bath.

  9. Remove the mixing vessel from any heat input and as the liquid ointment starts to set it will increase in viscosity, go milky and start setting on the sides. 

  10. When the liquid starts to go milky and thickens, wipe any moisture of the bottom of the vessel and with occasional stirring, pour into ready un-topped jars. Heat the vessel gently in a little hot water bath heat to melt the remaining ointment from the sides, wipe the water off and pour again.

  11. When filling the jars, pour to "over fill" to allow for contraction of the ointment as it sets.

  12. Clean up is best facilitated by using paper towels to wipe the vessel clean then wash well with very hot soapy water and if possible pour out onto the soil rather tham down the sink when it can set. Rinse the vessels well to remove any soap residues.

  13. Keep notes on your process and prepare and apply a label............and have fun!

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Sample formulas:

A cosmetically acceptable, efficacious compound ointment is made with olive oil and beeswax. Both these ingredients are reasonably stable to heat, are inexpensive and readily available. They are easily used at home to make lip salves and herbal ointments, formulas for which are given below. The proportion of the beeswax added gives the ointment its consistency, a "solid" ointment requiring around 20% beeswax and a softer ointment as little as 5%.

Calendula Ointment

Olive oil 30 gm
Infused Calendula flowers (in olive oil) 10 gm
Yellow Beeswax (mp 62C) 10 gm
Fragrance (essential oil)  3 drops

Herbal LIP Balm

Olive oil 35 gm
Yellow Beeswax (mp 62C) 10 gm
Jojoba oil 0.5 mL (25 drops)
Flax seed oil 2mL (100 drops)
Rosemary extract (anti-oxidant) 2 drops
St Johns wort infused oil 1mL (50 drops)
Lavender oil 2 drops
Calendula tincture  2mL (100 drops)
Friars balsam tincture 2mL (100 drops)


Ken Atherton Phc
Pindari Herb Farm
  200 Norwich Drive Longford Tas. 7301 
www.pindariherbfarm.com

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