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The Great Cotton Wood Tree

Updated: May 9, 2021

Cotton Wood Tree (Populus deltoides)
The leaves are large, and round

Cotton wood trees are massive, and a very valuable resource for high quality resin that is excreted through the trees buds. These buds can be collected in the spring time, take care if you are removing from the live branches that you can reach, but if you visit a cotton wood right after a windy night, you will find hundred of fallen branches scattered all over the ground below.

There are many different types of poplar trees that have sticky buds, but you can distinguish the cottonwood from all other by simply looking at the branches. The Branches resemble a gnarly old crooked witches finger with giant brown buds at the ends!

The resin from the cottonwood is sticky. You may even remember these trees as a child, while romping through the forests, maybe you got these bud casings stuck to you feet and when you pulled them off after a long tiresome day of playing, they leave behind a sticky yellow residue. Yup thats the cottonwood!

Cottonwood trees have some very amazing health benefits, and are known by many as "natures cure all" or Natures pain relief" due to the buds resin which contain tannins, as well as anti-inflammatory and fever-reducing salicylates. The resins from the buds also possess antifungal and antimicrobial properties in the form of flavones. An oil or salve made from this resin can bring relief to pain caused by swelling, arthritis, strains, and general muscle pains.

Due to its potential health benifits from cottonwood resin, It only makes sense to want to make a salve from it! Historically salves made from cottonwood have been used, dating back even to ancient biblical times. If you want to learn how to make an amazing salve or balm using cottonwood buds, Then check out my recipe with pictures below!

Cottonwood Salve Recipe

4 cups of whole cottonwood buds

6 cups of olive oil ( extra virgin)

4 cups of beeswax (3 for a softer salve)

Start by removing all of the buds from the branches. You can do this by hand (very sticky) or use a pair of scissors. I used scissors and was able to do it fast and efficiently!

After all of your buds are removed, place them into a medium sized pot. Add in your olive oil, and turn the heat on to a low SIMMER. This is a slow cook method, alternatively you can place the measurements of oil and buds into glass mason jars and store in a dark cold cupboard for 4 to 8 weeks, up to 6 months. Make sure to completely cover the buds to avoid mold in the jar, and shake when you remember.

With the heat on a low simmer, let your buds sit, for up to 6 to 8 hours. Make sure to mix and keep a close eye on it.

As the mixture slowly infuses, the oil will fill the buds and you will see the buds slowly sink to the bottom of the pan. Infusion is working!

As the hours go by, you will see that the buds are now slowly starting to come apart in the oil. Keep simmering. Once you hit the 6 to 8 hour mark, you will know that the buds are infused. I waited 8 hours to make sure my resins were completely removed from the buds and infused into the oil.

After your desired processing time, you can begin to strain out out the buds. To do this you will need a cheese cloth. I bought mine from amazon (here). Make sure to buy unbleached cheese cloth!

Lay out a double layer of cheese cloth over a large bowl. Remove the pot from the stove and pour the whole mixture right into the cheesecloth. Pull the cloth up and twist the cloth into a ball, allowing the buds to squeeze out all of the oil. You may have to break up the mixture into smaller parts and strain individually to maximize the amount of oil you get out of the buds.

Strain the oil twice to make sure that no particles make it into your final product.

Now that your mixture is completely strained out, you can throw the entire cheese cloth and buds right into the compost bin. Now its time to add in the beeswax! You can place your oil into a double boiler, or if you dont have one, place into a large metal bowl that can fit on top of a pot nicely without tipping. Inside the pot you will need about 1 quarter full of water. Place the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium high. Place your metal bowl with the oil on top of the pot. Allow your oil to slowly heat up using the steam that is made from the pot below. Once the oil is warm to the touch, you can add in the beeswax.

You can use beeswax pellets ( these melt faster) or you can buy the bars then grate them. I bought mine from amazon (here). Use organic beeswax to ensure the highest quality end product!

Pour the wax right into the oil. Allow it to slowly melt, mixing regularly.

Mix mix mix ! ( this photo looks fast, but its a slow mix i promise!

Now that your wax is melted its time to test for desired consistency! Take a small bit on a spoon and drop it onto a plastic lid or a cold plate. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the mixture should be hardened. If it is still soft, you can add more beeswax. If it is too hard, you can add a bit more olive oil. The recipe above is perfect for a nice consistency perfect for lip balms.

Now that you have decided on your constancy, you can remove from the heat, pour into your containers of choice. I recommend using only BPA free plastic of you are using plastic containers. You can also ladle the mixture into glass mason jars, or even tins!

Allow your salve to set for 24 hours. Do not place in the fridge, just place in a safe place and allow to completely cool at room temperature.

I really hope that you enjoyed this recipe! If you did, please click the heart button to like. Subscribe to my website to stay updated about more useful natural recipes, and head over to our facebook page, like and follow to stay in the loop about our products!

From our family to yours!

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