I am plagued by dry feet that get severely cracked and sore if not dealt with on a regular basis. This is not a seasonal thing. I get this affliction all year long. I guess it doesn't help that I love to go around barefoot in the house and out in the yard and garden. Dry cracked feet is the price I pay for the freedom. Yes, wearing shoes and socks would be much more sensible but I'm not. Sensible, that is. There's something earth mother-ish about running around barefoot.
Both my mother and grandmother were do-it-yourself-ers. My mom gave me this recipe that she says my grandmother made when my mother was young. (Some day I'll tell you about the bread and milk poultices she says my grandmother used on her to cure nail puncture wounds! Holy cow!) I modified her recipe and we all think it's better than anything! I use shea butter instead of lanolin. (Grandma used lanolin.) I also deviated from the original recipe by adding tea tree oil.
This recipe is very flexible. Use more or less of the key ingredients and you get a different consistency. You can experiment around to see what works for you. I'll tell you what I do to get a firm consistency that is very effective.
Basic Recipe Ingredients
• 2 oz shea butter (#1 key ingredient; relatively soft; very emollient)
• 1 tablespoon cocoa butter (#2 key ingredient; firm; has moisturizing properties)
• 2 tablespoons beeswax (#3 key ingredient; very firm; strong moisture barrier properties)
• 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil (#4 key ingredient; adds anti-oxidants; softening)
Don't forget olive oil
• 2-3 drops rosemary essential oil (energizing, fights tension and fatigue)
• 2-3 drops sage essential oil (purifying)
• 2-3 drops peppermint essential oil (aromatic tonic)
• 2-3 drops red cedar essential oil (calm and balance energy)
• 4-6 drops tea tree oil (antibacterial, antifungal)
• Double boiler
• Measuring spoons
• Digital kitchen scale
• Hand grater (Don't use a mechanical device. You'll gum it up. Watch the knuckles.)
Measure out your shea butter.
I got a digital scale a while back and I love it. I always know exactly how much something weighs down to the decimal. It does other types of measurements, too. So, yeah, I love it. In the olden days an analog kitchen scale would have worked well enough or just rule of thumb. Put your shea in the top of the double boiler and set it to a slow boil. I don't have a real double boiler so I use a stainless steel bowl set inside another pot. I put a clothes pin on the side so I have something that won't conduct heat to hold to steady the bowl. Once the shea melts, and it will melt quickly, you can turn the heat off. You don't want the shea to boil. You just want it to melt. Meanwhile, grate your beeswax and cocoa butter.
Add it to the shea. Stir with a wooden utensil until everything melts and blends. Add your olive oil and essential oils. Stir to combine.
Take a whiff of the scent. You can add more essential oil as you like. Always add one drop at a time. You can't take anything out so if you overdo it your goose is cooked. Easy does it!
Once you have the scent the way you like let it set until it firms up. This is a trial to see if you like the consistency because it’s annoying to have to keep scooping it back on forth. It’s easier to leave it in the heating bowl in case you have to add anything and re-melt.
After it solidifies and you like the consistency warm it up again to melt and carefully pour it into your heat proof container.
The divot is where I stuck my finger in to try it!
Don't be concerned if your consistency is too soft at first. This recipe "cures" and becomes stiffer in a few days so unless you want a very stiff consistency (which is what I like) you should go easy on the beeswax. Beeswax is what causes the salve to firm. If you like it soft I suggest adding a tablespoon more shea butter. I like it firm so I add a tablespoon more beeswax.
Use this on any part of your body that needs extra help. It's great for feet but it also works on elbows and hands.