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Make 5 Healing Salves in 1 Afternoon

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Making your own healing salve is an easy and worthwhile project for every home herbalist.

Salves are mixtures of oil and wax that deliver benefits. The problem with most salves that you buy at the drug store is that these salves are petroleum based, using paraffin wax and petrolatum as the base.

Round metal tins without lids exposing the salves inside with text overlay stating: 5 healing salve recipes.

Save $$ by making your own salves

You can buy herbal salves made with beeswax instead of paraffin wax or olive oil instead of petrolatum. Organic salves often sell for $15 to $20 or more for a 2-ounce tin.  So by making your own you can save a lot of money.

In fact, with my easy method of salve making, you’ll feel like you’re getting paid to play in the kitchen. One salve making session, using my method, can set you up with all the salves you’ll need for months.

Local plants are more potent

Healing salves are easy to make from the weeds you have in your garden.  Different weeds offer different healing actions so knowing what to expect from different plants can help you customize the herbal salves that you make to suit your needs.

Lavender blooming in the garden.

The plants growing in your own backyard and in close proximity to your home are challenged with the same stressors that you are challenged by.  If they are thriving they have the energetics to also help you thrive.  Plants growing close to you, that you harvest yourself, will also be fresher and filled with vitality.  So begin your herbal harvest in your own backyard for the most potent medicine.

Harvest only plants that you know haven’t been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.  Choose organically grown weeds.  If you are harvesting on private property, not your own, ask permission before you harvest.  If you are harvesting on public land ensure that you have the permission to do so.

Logistics of Ninja Salve Making

You’ll need:

Make 5 healing salves in one afternoon with the weeds from your garden to treat bug bites, chapped skin, sunburn, sore muscles, and bruises.

1.  Salve for Bruising and Cuts

This salve is made with local arnica flowers and yarrow flowers and leaves.  Yarrow adds antimicrobial actions to the salve, while staunching bleeding.  Both yarrow and arnica can reduce bruising.  This salve works so quickly you’ll hear the word, “miracle”.

Yarrow in bloom.

2. Calendula Salve for Sunburn

Gather the calendula blossoms as they open on the plants and dry them for salve making.  Use the whole blossoms for this salve, not just the petals.  The whole flower contains healing resins that will increase the benefit of calendula for healing burns.  Calendula infused oil retains its sunny disposition for years.

Growing & Using Calendula - Homespun Seasonal Living

Other herbs that can help with burns: Aloe Vera, lavender, St. John’s wort, comfrey.

3. Salve for stings, bites, and slivers from Plantain

Plantain salve is a must have in your cottage apothecary or your camping gear.  It will ease the pain and swelling of a wasp sting, provided you aren’t severely allergic.  It will stop the itching and redness of mosquito bites, and it will help draw slivers and boils to a head, so they can be removed.

Of course, if you have severe allergies you’ll need more than plantain salve to help you.

If the patient has been stung by a honeybee the stinger should be scraped out of the wound using the side of a card.  As long as the stinger is in the body, it continues to pump venom into the system.  Removing the stinger minimizes the pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Other herbs that can help with stings, bites, or slivers: Pine resin, arnica, lavender, nettles.

4. Salve for Sore Muscles, Aches, and Pains

This salve is made from St. John’s Wort infused oil.  St. John’s Wort flowers should be infused in oil when they are freshly picked and just wilted.  If you dry them to save for winter use, the flowers will lose their strong active principle.  So pick them, let them wilt for a few hours and then macerate in oil.

Cottonwood bud infused oil is made in the spring when the resinous buds are getting ready to leaf out, but before bud break.  Willow bark can be used in place of cottonwood buds, if you don’t have cottonwood growing near you.  Both are analgesic and anti-inflammatory.

Make the most of St. John's Wort's healing power by using St. John's Wort for mood and body ailments with these two easy DIY projects.

Other herbs that can help with sore muscles and joints: Pine or spruce needles, Pine resin, aspen leaves or bark, willow bark, birch leaves, arnica flowers, calendula flowers, golden rod flowers, ginger, turmeric, or dandelion flowers.

5. Chapped Skin Salve

This salve moisturizes and helps soothe chapped and broken skin with red clover and chickweed.

This may be used as a lip balm.  Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa butter to the basic recipe to make this firm enough to use this in a lip balm tube.  The yield will increase to 3 ounces.

Other herbs to use to help with dry, chapped skin: Calendula, self-heal, wild rose, violet, lemon balm, mint, comfrey, and lavender.

Yield: 2 ½ ounces (75ml)

Basic Herbal Salve

Metal tins without lids full of yellow salves.

Create a basic herbal salve with these easy to follow instructions

Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Materials

Basic Salve

  • 4 parts olive oil or other liquid carrier oil
  • 2 parts medicinal herb, dried or 4 parts medicinal herb fresh, wilted
  • 1 part beeswax

Salve for Bruises & Cuts

Sunburn Salve

Salve for Stings, Bites, & Slivers

Salve for Sore Muscles, Aches, & Pains

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil infused with St. John’s Wort Flowers
  • 1 Tablespoon Cottonwood Bud Infused Oil (balm of Gilead)
  • 1 Tablespoon Beeswax

Salve for Chapped Skin

Instructions

  1. Create a double boiler by placing a glass measuring cup on a canning jar ring, in a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water so that the water comes half way up the side of the glass measuring cup. 
  2. Place the dried plant material in a reusable cloth tea bag. Place the tea bag in the measuring cup. Cover the tea bag of plant material with the oil. 
  3. Bring the saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering gently for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat. When the tea bag is cool enough to handle, press the tea bag with the back of a spoon to strain out as much herbal infused oil as possible. I find that a potato ricer is very helpful in getting the last drops of herbal oil out of the macerated herbs. Compost the spent herb. The cloth tea bag can be washed and reused several times.
  4. Return the infused oil to the glass cup. Add the beeswax. Simmer once again over medium heat to melt the beeswax. As soon as the beeswax is fully liquid remove from the heat. Stir well. Continue stirring while the mixture begins to cool. 
  5. Prepare your chosen containers by sanitizing them with 99% isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel. Wipe down the inside of the container and the lid. Allow the containers to air dry.
  6. When it looks like the salve is beginning to thicken, spoon into the sanitized salve containers. Wait until the mixture has cooled fully before placing the lid on the jars. Capping the jars while the mixture is still warm will cause condensation inside the container, which can lead to contamination. 
  7. Label the jars with the name of the salve and the date, and any instructions.

Notes

The 4 to 1 ratio of oil to beeswax ensures that the salve has enough body to stay solid in the container at normal room temperature. It makes the salve easy to apply. The salve will melt on contact with the skin and won’t leave a sticky feeling.

If the salve seems too greasy or oily try using a drying oil like grapeseed oil in place of olive oil. I use olive oil in these recipes because it is inexpensive. You can substitute with another carrier oil, but please avoid the use of genetically modified oils such as canola oil, soy oil, and corn oil. These oils are likely contaminated with glyphosate, a known carcinogen.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Ready to make you own salves?

Herbal salves are expensive.  Yet they are all made the same way, by infusing herbs in a carrier oil and adding beeswax for texture and consistency.  Make your own salves and save yourself some money. Doing it yourself also allows you to customize your salves to deliver the herbal benefits most needed.  And now you know that your own herbal salves are more potent and active than the salves you can buy from elsewhere.

This is just the beginning of the useful herbal recipes you can make from weeds and plants growing in your garden or in the area around your home.  Homegrown herbs are more potent and active than imported herbs.  Find out more about Homegrown Healing and potent herbal salve making by visiting Chris at Joybilee Farm 

Bio:

Chris Professional

Chris is a teacher, author, gardener, and herbalist with 30+ years’ of growing herbs and formulating herbal remedies, skin care products, soaps, and candles.  She teaches workshops and writes extensively about gardening, crafts, and medicinal herbs on her blog at JoybileeFarm.com. Chris is the author of The Beginner’s Book of Essential Oils, Learning to Use Your First 10 Essential Oils with Confidence and Homegrown Healing, from Seed to Apothecary.  Her new book, “Beeswax Workshop, How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms, and More” will be released in December with Ulysses Press.

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Amanda

Wednesday 27th of May 2020

Hi! Can't wait to try these out! I am allergic to bee products (beeswax & honey). What can I substitute for the beeswax? Thanks!

Jewel

Saturday 1st of May 2021

@Amanda, cocoa butter would work as a substitute for beeswax, or shea butter. Any hard plant fat would work. If it is not as hard as beeseax you just use more to get the final set you like. You could even just use coconut oil instead of both olive oil and beeswax, if you either live in aclimate where coconut oil is soild, or if you kept it in the fridge.

Kathie Lapcevic

Thursday 28th of May 2020

There are types of vegan wax but I haven't tried them.

Anita

Thursday 29th of November 2018

I am so anxious to make my own salve. Thank you

shireen

Monday 5th of March 2018

Thank you for sharing and inspiration.

Amazmerizing

Saturday 3rd of June 2017

Love this article and your blog. So happy to get the links to all your books here. Have made a few meds and remedies as well as extracts and infusions. I love that unlike many I have seen online you dont use a ton of ingredients. I believe the active ingredients should be boosted, or they just kind of get overwhelmed. Also the smell of many is just way too overpowered in my opinion. One note I just wanted to make for those who may not be aware... all beeswax is not made alike. What I mean is recently I made a trip to Michaels to get some and there were only 2 choices. One was a 1 oz block and the other were the tiny bits called respules I believe. The thing was neither said 100% pure natural beeswax. The bar had a more dull yellow color and the respules were a very bright fresh buttery yellow. Finally I smelled the packages. OMG... the respules were very fragrant of fresh honey. Yes, it was so scentfull that it came thru the package. :) Cant wait for my own bees to give me wax!!! Namaste ;)

DavetteB

Wednesday 10th of May 2017

I make most of those salves or similar, but other than plantain, birch, and dandelion, none of that grows near me (there is cotton wood, but most everyone I know cuts it down or it's in a spot unsafe to access) so I buy the herbs. Everyone loves the ones I make.

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