I live in a northern valley where snow covers the ground for 4-5 months out of the year. It blankets the ground, making many plants invisible. During these white months the trees are often my focus as I take my afternoon walks.
This year I’ve been especially enamored with pine trees. I live in a ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest. There are many more Douglas fir trees here, but the pine trees are by far the largest, some of them towering a hundred feet into the air.
I’ve been snipping pine needles to use in teas, cutting branches for wreaths and swags and writing about pine trees in my latest monograph on HerbMentor.
Pine needles, resin and bark have long been used as medicine. They are used as a stimulating expectorant, helping the body to thin and expel congested mucus in the lungs and sinuses. Pine needles are high in vitamin C and make a lovely tea or can be infused into oils or butters for many tasty treats. The pine resin can be infused into oil and used for wounds, muscular pain or even to pull out splinters.
This year I wanted to enjoy the benefits of pine in a way that was entirely new to me, so I created this moisturizing evergreen salt scrub. This makes a great holiday gift!
Why Use a Salt Scrub?
Salt scrubs are a mixture of oils and salts that you can gently rub into your skin in the shower to exfoliate your skin. Doing this regularly supports healthy circulation and helps your body to shed old skin cells. I love how incredibly soft my skin feels after a good scrub!
For this recipe I used minced pine needles as well as a couple of evergreen essential oils. I love that I’m slathering myself with the forest outside my door! It also reminds me to give thanks for the pines.
Earlier this year I met Robin Wall Kimmerer and she talked about the importance of “remembering to remember.” How do we remember to give thanks in our busy lives? How do we remember to remember what is most important? Immersing my life in herbs, whether it’s a cup of tea or an herbal salt scrub, is one way I remember to remember to give thanks and to prioritize what is important to me.
You could use any evergreen needles for this recipe – although I would stick with ones you can positively identify and know they are safe.
You could even use the needles from your Christmas tree as long as you know the tree hasn’t been sprayed with anything harmful.
Many salt scrubs only use a liquid oil as the base. This recipe also calls for shea butter and coconut oil. The combination of these, along with the olive oil, creates a deeply moisturizing blend that soaks into your skin. This recipe also whips the butters and oils together to create a light and decadent blend.
How to Use a Salt Scrub
I use a salt scrub several times a week when showering.
First I get my skin wet. Then I turn off the water.
I take a bit of the scrub and rub it into my arms, legs and torso. I like to start at my wrists and ankles and massage towards my heart.
Avoid any open wounds, rashes or sensitive areas. How much scrub you use and how much you scrub is up to you. Some people like to use shower gloves to rub in salt scrubs.
When I’m done scrubbing, I turn the water back on and rinse off.
Note that your shower floor will become slippery. If this is a concern for you, you could keep some dish soap in the shower to help dissolve the oil.
And lastly a clean up tip: wipe down all oily surfaces with a paper towel before washing in hot soapy water.
Moisturizing Evergreen Salt Scrub
With this recipe you can bring a bit of the forest inside. This simple salt scrub will leave your skin feeling super soft and deeply moisturized. This is a wonderful way to protect your skin from that dry and harsh winter weather.
What you’ll need…
- 65 grams shea butter (roughly 1/2 cup)
- 45 grams coconut oil (roughly 3 Tablespoons)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons minced conifer needles
- 40 drops Fir Needle essential oil (Abies balsamea)
- 20 drops Scotch Pine essential oil (Pinus sylvestris)
- 10 drops grapefruit essential oil (Citrus paradisi)
- 1/2 cup salt (150 grams)
Melt the shea butter and coconut oil on low or in a double boiler. Remove from heat.
Add the olive oil and needles. Add the essential oils and stir well.
Let cool until it becomes solid. If you leave this on the counter, this can take up to five hours. If you put it in the fridge or the cold outdoors, it takes considerably less time. (It took my mixture 1.5 hours to harden in the fridge, but times may vary.)
Once it is solid (but still soft), use a rubber spatula to transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender. Blend on high until the mixture becomes thick.
Using your spatula, transfer the mixture into a medium sized bowl. Gently stir in the salt.
Place the salt scrub into a small container with a lid that can be kept in the shower.
This salt scrub will keep for a very long time. I recommend using it up within 6 months.
Yield: Makes roughly 1.5 cups of salt scrub.
Here’s a little experiment I tried this time around.
After I mixed up the scrub, I put some of the scrub in a silicone mold and then put that in the freezer. The next day I popped out these cute, single use, body scrub snowflakes. This is a really convenient way to use the scrub – the only drawback is that they need to be stored in the fridge so you’d have to remember to grab one before heading to the shower.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy pine or other conifers?
Have you made salt scrubs before?
I’d love to hear what herbal gifts you are making this holiday season!
Let me know in the comments below.
We Wish You a Happy & Healthy 2018!
As we complete our 13th journey around the sun at LearningHerbs, we have a LOT to be grateful for.
2017 brought us the Alchemy of Herbs book selling nearly 30,000 copies and making several best seller lists, the release of the Apothecary videos, Herb Fairies finally being printed as “real” books, and the opening of our brand new HerbMentor site.
It’s been quite a year, and we could not have done it without you.
Thank you SO much for being part of the LearningHerbs community, and we can’t wait to show you what we have in store for 2018.
May you have an herbal filled Holiday Season!
Lots of love,
John, Kimberly, Rosalee, Deb, Van, Jan, Emily, Althea and Lindsey