The secrets are in the plants. To elicit them, you have to love them enough.George Washington Carver
My garden is not only great for growing things to eat. Many plants also have medicinal value so this year, I have finally got around to giving my home apothecary its own dedicated space.
I found this vintage cabinet in the classifieds for $50 and it stores all my supplies for my apothecary. It is lockable and although my kids are old enough to know not to put random things in their mouth, it helps to keep unsupervised curious minds out!
My apothecary has certainly grown since the start of the year!
This is your most important tool! When making preparations, keep a record of your recipes, processes and dates. Should you wish to replicate that miracle wrinkle cream you created, you’ll be glad you have kept excellent records.
It is also a good idea to keep a running inventory sheet of what you have “in stock” so you can easily see when items have expired. I do a quick stocktake of my apothecary cupboard every season.
Tools & Equipment
My favourite cobolt blue glass eyedropper bottles were found at my local two-dollar store for much less than what I could buy them for through a wholesale supplier. You might be surprised what you find, so shop around!
Mortar and Pestle
A mortar and pestle
I love this ÄDELSTEN mortar and pestle in black marble from IKEA because it is reversible! There is a shallow dish perfect for small quantities, and the deeper dish for bigger volumes. Plus, it is an absolute bargain at only $15.00.
I use glass jars for storage of ingredients and for the final storage of my skin and
Keep your eyes peeled! I love Ikea for jars, but also find great jars in discount stores and I found my favourite large storage jars for my Gardener Bath Soaks and Green Coffee and Cardamom Body Polish for only a few dollars at my local charity shop.
I always clean my jars by running them through the very hot cycle in my dishwasher to ensure they are clean before storing and using them.
Bottles and Dispensers
I recycle all my bottles and dispensers. Once I have finished using the product, I clean them out and sterilise them before storing them or refilling.
I prefer to use plastic bottles when storing any product that I would use in the shower for safety reasons. I use a plastic bottle with a pump dispenser for my Homemade Dry Body Oil because I get very slippery hands when using it and I am scared of smashing a glass bottle!
But I prefer to use glass bottles with an eyedropper for my Facial Oil.
Sieves and Strainers
Muslin is a fine cotton fabric that is perfect for straining and can be layered for a finer result. I like them because you can literally squeeze every last drop of moisture from the plant material! Plus, once you have used them, they can be washed and used many times over.
I use muslin squares when straining my herbal extracts and glycerides.
Coffee filters are made from paper and work best for straining more liquid extracts like herbal shrubs and oxymels.
They are single use, but can be composted.
I have a few small plastic sieves that are great for straining and sifting and a larger metal sieve for the same purpose.
I used the big metal seive when grinding my green coffee beans for the Green Coffee and Cardamom Body Polish, to ensure the coffee grinds were fine enough. They needed to be processed a few times!
I prefer to use glass mixing bowls, so I can see what is going on in there! I have a few different sizes, the larger ones are great for mixing big volumes of Bath Soaks, the smaller ones are ideal for smaller volumes like mixing homemade toothpaste.
The measurements in my apothecary recipes vary from just a few drops of essential oils, to 250ml and more. I have my own dedicated set of measuring cups, spoons and jugs in my apothecary, but you can use your kitchen ones as long as they are
You think you’ll remember, but trust me! You won’t! I always label my preparations, through each stage of the recipe. It is important to record the date and the ingredients on each preparation (and in your Apothecary Journal).
You can buy adhesive labels from any stationary store, but a simple label, made with paper and sticky-taped onto the jar works well too.
These are the “ingredients” that will make up your preparations.
Where possible, always buy organic. You will be using your preparations on your skin and ingesting them so you want to absolute healthiest quality for you and for the planet.
Ideally, most of your herbs will be sourced from your own garden! Be certain that at time of storage, your herbs are dried well and free of any insects.
Store them at room temperature, out of direct sunlight so they maintain their potency. Label each jar with the item inside and the date of picking or purchase.
I keep a variety of vegetable oils on hand. I keep my hemp oil in the fridge to ensure it stays fresh and buy in smaller volumes for the same reason!
I shared my six essential oils for beginners in this post. Essential oils can vary widely in price and quality. Once you find a supplier that you are happy and confident with, feel free to add to your collection as you can afford to.
I keep my essential oils in a
Clays mostly come in powdered form and need to be kept in an airtight container. Clays are not only great for making your own Clay Face
Vegetable Glycerine is another versatile ingredient that I have used for making alcohol-free Herbal Extracts, and Cooling Herbal Face Mists. It is a humecant, attracting and holding moisture to the skin.
Aloe Vera Gel
I grow aloe vera in my garden, but if I am running short, I use a commercially prepared aloe vera that I keep in the fridge.
Waxes and Butters
We have yet to use emulsifying wax in the A Farm of Your Home Apothecary, but I have some recipes coming up to make your own lotions and creams. Emulsifying wax combines the oil and water components of your lotion recipe to make a smooth emollient.
I love shea butter for its barrier cream protection. It is great as a post garden hand moisturiser and for any dry skin in need of repair.
I’m a beekeeper, so have access to my own, humanely harvested, chemical free beeswax.
I love beeswax as it is so versatile. I have used it in handcreams, candles, balms and ointments.
Beeswax is not strictly considered vegan, so if you would prefer not to use it, shea butter is a fair substitute in most skincare products.
Raw honey has not been heated and retains its phytonutrients that are responsible for its antioxidant properties, as well as its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
I use raw honey as a facial mask, in lip balms and to extract herbs. it is also used as a sweetener, to mask the unpleasant flavour of herbal preparations.
Being the product of bees, honey is not considered vegan, but there is no real substitite for honey in the home apothecary.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is a fermented vinegar which is bioactive. Always choose organic, with the mother in the bottle. We have used it in our Cooling Herbal Facial Mist, our Clay Face Masks and in the ShamPhree Shampoo Method.
I use it to make Herbal Shrubs and diluted, it is an excellent skin toner, especially for acne prone skin.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of my home apothecary! But there is so much more I haven’t shown you! I also have an extensive collection of books I have gathered over the years, plus a list of all the online links I frequent for the latest, scientifically published research.
Do you have a collection of ingredients you use in your own plant based preparations? Is it something you want to create at home? I would love to hear from you, please leave a message below.