Lavatory Myrtle Balm – Not Simply For Bugs


Bog Myrtle plant in Ireland boggy ground

Lavatory myrtle is a standard plant of moist bogs, heaths and lake edges and is well-known historically as a pure insect repellent. Picture: Alison Delaney.

Midges and mosquitos have fairly the discerning palate, apparently. They greedily munch on some while leaving others blissfully untouched and unaware. Me, effectively I fall into the midge magnet camp; I’m a strolling mosquito picnic.

Dwelling within the peaty Irish Midlands, I’ve been conserving a small inhabitants of midges effectively fed and wholesome throughout my rambles over time. If I stand nonetheless for even the smallest period of time, which I incessantly do while gathering wild meals, the midges take the chance to avail of no matter flesh is uncovered.

A little bit fed up of getting back from foraging forays with a basketful of greens and a neat line of itchy purple bumps simply above the waistband of my trousers, I felt compelled to experiment with vegetation to seek out my very own wild answer to the irritation.

With peatland and all its related wetness there are midges, sure, however there are additionally vegetation that present consolation for these by the little bast…biting issues.

Lavatory-myrtle, Myrica gale is a standard plant of moist bogs, heaths and lake edges and is well-known historically as a pure insect repellent. It’s a twiggy stemmed deciduous shrub that tends to develop as much as two metres tall in dense thickets. From April to Might, yellow and purple catkins seem earlier than the emergence of the leaves. The oval to lanceolate leaves are gray inexperienced in color, spirally organized and have a finely toothed margin. The resinous perfume from the crushed leaves is unmistakeable and provides trace as to its medicinal properties.

It’s a unbelievable useful resource while you’re on a peat bathroom and may seize handfuls of the fragrant leaf to rub over your pores and skin or pop a sprig behind your ear as did the farmers, hunters and ramblers of previous. It’s not so good although while you’re being eaten alive and the bog-myrtle isn’t conveniently shut by. I needed to make a conveyable balm in a tin very like Nordic Summer time, a product I like.

Nordic Summer time accommodates beeswax and pine tar which give it that attribute smoky scent. I needed the scent of bog-myrtle to be outstanding in my very own concoction however appreciated the thought of utilizing pine resin for its antiseptic properties very like the balsam fir resin utilized by Paul Kirtley right here:

Pine resin in a tin next to a sprig of pine

Amassing pine resin right into a tin. Picture: Alison Delaney.

Pine sap is produced by the tree in an effort to seal wounds and shield itself from insect assault, fungal and bacterial infections brought on by damaged limbs and such like. The oozing sap which is like molten dripping candlewax is obvious when contemporary, rapidly turns to white after which amber brown when older. A wander round any pine forest with a tin for assortment and an previous knife for relieving the gentle and flicking the dried resin off the trunk will simply yield enough with out the necessity for digging right into a tree and forcing the sap from it.

Additionally it is price remembering that the sap has a job to do in defending the tree and assortment shouldn’t intrude with this. I choose to solely use resin that has dripped away from the primary level of harm on the tree.

Amassing pine resin generally is a sticky enterprise although so it’s finest to not get any on fingers or garments if in any respect attainable. Its scent is likely one of the most interesting within the pure world and I defy you to not steal lengthy sniffs of your resinous harvest as you wander by way of the woodland. I used to be very fortunate to discover a newly damaged limb from a pine on one among my common strolling routes; the resin was pure white, ample and took simply a few minutes to gather. I used a beneficiant handful for this undertaking which was sufficient to make ten 50ml tins of balm.

brown cone like structures of bog myrtle buds

The collected bathroom myrtle buds. Picture: Alison Delaney.

Usually, it’s the leaves which can be used as a repellent however I made this balm at a time of yr when there have been no leaves to collect. The buds nevertheless have been plentiful and have a lot the identical important oils that I wanted.

Jar of oil with white pine resin lumps in it.

Pine resin and bathroom myrtle buds infusing in olive oil. Picture: Alison Delaney.

With pine resin and bathroom myrtle buds collected it was all go for operation repel. Pine resin is oil soluble and I wanted to dissolve as a lot as I might while on the identical time infusing the oil with bog-myrtle buds. I positioned a beneficiant handful of resin and buds, or the extra preferable bog-myrtle leaves if utilizing, right into a glass jar and coated generously with olive oil. I most likely used double the amount of oil to resin.

I then left the jar on the vary to step by step warmth and assist the resin dissolve giving it a vigorous shake every time I remembered. This truly took fairly a bit longer than I anticipated, over two weeks and so, in my impatience, I ultimately caught the jar within the dehydrator while I used to be drying out some fruit leathers. I do know that some individuals use a double boiler to dissolve the pine resin into the oil, conserving the water effectively beneath boiling level, the thought is to heat not boil. No matter you and your persistence can deal with, I suppose.

As soon as glad that all the resin has dissolved and the bathroom myrtle has had enough time to infuse (the 2 weeks plus on the vary did that for me), take away the buds or leaves, gently warmth the infused oil in a double boiler and add about 1 ouncesof grated beeswax, stir till melted, pour into appropriate containers and depart to set.

Small metal screw-top tins containing hard balm made of bog myrtle and other ingredients

The completed balm in tins. Picture: Alison Delaney.

Observe the cute bathroom myrtle bud ornament on a few of these, whereas fairly, did not end up so effectively. They turned mouldy a month or two after being made, so I wouldn’t suggest copying this not-so-fantastic thought.

Since making this pure insect repellent, I’ve had loads of alternative to check whether or not my irresistibility to midges is lessened when utilizing it. Smearing a little bit onto my pores and skin earlier than heading out into the swarms was fairly thrilling for a change. The midges undoubtedly didn’t again off in the best way that I’d anticipated and nonetheless danced annoyingly round me, however they didn’t land they usually didn’t chunk. Effectively largely that is true, there have been a few purple bumps every so often, however nothing near the quantity I used to be receiving. A really blissful success.

One other good thing about this bog-myrtle and pine resin balm got here as a little bit of a welcome shock to me. I anticipated the balm to be a fairly efficient repellent, which it’s, however I wasn’t anticipating it to be so splendidly efficient as a therapeutic balm. I maybe ought to have had an inkling contemplating Paul’s earlier expertise utilizing balsam fir sap, however generally you don’t absolutely recognize one thing till you attempt it out for your self and see the outcomes first hand.

I don’t often get spots, however lately I received the mom of all blind spots on my chin. I did precisely what you’re not presupposed to do, I squeezed it and squeezed it some extra and simply made the entire spot state of affairs a thousand instances worse than it ever wanted to be. It nonetheless damage however, as an alternative of wanting like a small raised bump, I now had Mount Vesuvius firmly planted on my face.

It was so massive and infected, I frightened that I would knock individuals out with the factor if I turned my head too rapidly. In desperation greater than anything, I reached for the tin of bog-myrtle balm and utilized it to the monster of a factor I’d created. Surprisingly, after just some hours the redness and swelling had gone down considerably. I utilized some extra and inside simply two days, you’d by no means know I’d had a spot in any respect not to mention been silly sufficient to squeeze one.

I’m a little bit nerdy in relation to vegetation so this was actually thrilling stuff. I gave some balm to a younger woman I do know that has suffered with zits for a variety of years and he or she too was amazed at how rapidly her pores and skin improved when utilizing it. The ability of vegetation by no means ceases to impress me. Lavatory myrtle, pine resin, beeswax and oil have been all that have been used to make this insect repelling, wound therapeutic, zits combating, sensational smelling balm in a tin. What’s to not like about that?!

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Alison has spent a few years sharing her enthusiasm for all issues nature with each kids and adults in her roles as main college instructor, inexperienced faculties and environmental consciousness co-ordinator, scout chief, information with the Irish Nationwide Parks and Wildlife Service and latterly through wild meals through Nibbling On Nature. Alison has labored with Frontier as a course assistant since 2013.



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