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. Making your own healing salves is easy and worthwhile
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.
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
- 2 saucepans
- 2 glass 1 cup measuring cups
- 2 canning jar rings
- 2 medium size cloth tea bags, approximately 4 x 6 inches
- Olive oil or other carrier oil
- Beeswax in 1 tbsp. (12 gram) portions
- Herbs, if possible dry herbs overnight before proceeding (except St. John’s wort flowers)
- Salve containers such as small glass jars with lids, salve tins, small jam jars
- Paper towels to wipe containers between recipes
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.
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.
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”.
2. Sunburn Salve from Calendula
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.
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.
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.
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
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.