Herbal salves are such a simple, effective, and useful way to take in herbal goodness! They can easily be slipped into a purse, pocket, or first aid kit. Although semi-solid at room temperature, salves soften once applied to the skin, making them less messy than oils. They also make great gifts and are an easy and approachable way to introduce newbies to the power of herbs. Plus, salves can be crafted for a wide variety of topical uses. The addition of beeswax will protect, soothe, and nourish your skin.
Part 1: Make Herb-Infused Oil
To make a salve, first craft your herb-infused oil(s). This can take anywhere from about a day to several weeks, depending on the method used. You can also purchase infused herbal oils if you're short on time or wish to skip the process of infusing the oil yourself. We recommend using only dried herbs in your infusions, as the lack of moisture content in the plant material can keep spoilage at bay.
Part 2: Make Your Salve
Once you've created your herbal oil, you're just a few simple steps away from your finished salve! See our basic salve recipe below, and follow along with herbal educator and author Maria Noël Groves for a comprehensive video how-to demonstration!
Makes 5 ounces.
- 1 oz. beeswax (use carnauba wax for a vegan salve)
- 4 oz. herbal infused oil(s) of your choice (choose one or a combination)
- 10-20 drops essential oil of choice (optional)
- Wrap beeswax bar in an old towel. On a sturdy surface, use a hammer to break bar up into small chunks.
- Place beeswax in a double boiler and gently warm over low heat until the beeswax melts.
- Add herbal oils and stir over low heat until well-mixed.
- Remove from heat and add the essential oil(s).
- Quickly pour warm mixture into prepared tins, glass jars, or lip balm tubes and allow to cool completely.
- Store in a cool location for 1 to 3 years.
Pro tip: The consistency of salves can easily be adjusted depending on your preferences. Use less beeswax for a softer salve and more beeswax if you’d like a firmer salve. You can test the consistency by placing a spoon in the freezer before making your salve. When the beeswax melts, pour a little salve onto one of the cold spoons and place it back into the freezer for 1 to 2 minutes. This will simulate what the final consistency will be like. Once cooled, you can make adjustments by adding more oil (for a softer salve) or more beeswax (for a firmer salve).
Best Herbs for Salves
You can make a salve with a single herb or multiple herbs, depending on your needs. It’s useful to make a variety of herbal-infused oils so that you can easily craft a salve whenever you need it!
As a supplier of herbs, we're unable to provide information about the specific uses of herbs in remedies, however, there are many wonderful books in our shop that can help! Some of our favorites include: Maria Noël Groves's Body Into Balance, Rosemary Gladstar's Herbs for Common Ailments and Mrs. Grieve's A Modern Herbal, and Thomas Easley & Steven Horne's A Modern Herbal Dispensatory.
Some staff favorites that you can find in our DIY salves in our cupboards at home include:
- Arnica flowers
- Burdock root
- Calendula flowers
- Cayenne powder
- Chamomile flowers
- Comfrey leaf and/or root
- Echinacea herb and/or root
- Ginger root
- Goldenseal leaf and/or root
- Lavender flowers
- Myrrh Gum powder
- Nettle leaf
- Oregon Grape root
- Plantain leaf
- St. John’s Wort
- Thyme leaf
- Yarrow leaf and flowers
Please note that this is only a partial list, and many other herbs can also be incorporated into salves. Happy salve making!
Want to make a vegan salve?
You may also be interested in:
- Herb-Infused Kokum Butter Salve for Dry Skin
- DIY Toning Body Butter with Coffee
- Calendula Uses + Infused Olive Oil Recipe