A homemade herbal salve can soothe and speed healing in many skin conditions –
- first aid for cuts, scrapes, bruises, and burns
- cooling and relieving rashes
- moisturizing and restoring dry skin
- shrinking varicose veins
and much more. Any herb can be used as a base for a salve, which means that your homemade herbal salve can do whatever you need it to!
Use these instructions as a guide whenever you make an herbal salve. In our various articles about making specific herbal salves, we’ve summarized the instructions so the articles don’t get too bloated. All the details are here, though! Refer back to this article whenever you need a refresher.
The supplies are simple, but you’ll want to have everything on hand before you start.
- Glass jars (both large and small)
- Light olive oil (extra virgin isn’t needed here)
- Tins for the finished salve (optional – you can use small glass jars instead)
- Willingness to wildcraft or grow fresh herbs
Making a Homemade Herbal Salve
Begin by gathering healthy herbs from a clean environment. No pesticides or chemical fertilizers should have been sprayed in the area for at least 3-5 years, and the herbs should be growing at least 50-75 feet from a roadway. This ensures that your herbal medicine is as pure and toxin-free as possible.
I make all of my herbal salves with fresh herbs, so gather on a day when you can go ahead and get the herbs macerating (soaking) right away.
Stuff your gathered herbs into a glass jar as tightly as possible.
Pour in enough light olive oil to cover the herbs with about a quarter-inch of oil above them. The herbs may absorb some of the oil, so you’ll need to check the jar in a day or two and add more oil if needed.
Mascerate the herbs in the oil for about two weeks. For most herbs, the jar should be placed in a cool, dark place. I use my pantry.
After two weeks, strain the oil through cheesecloth or unbleached coffee filters. Squeeze as much of the oil as possible out of the herbs.
Mixing the Salve
Measure the oil and record the number of ounces you have. For most salves, you’ll want a 1:4 ratio of beeswax to oil. If you have less than an ounce of oil, measure in grams – the ratio remains the same. (I love my kitchen scale and highly recommend you get one too!)
In a saucepan over low-medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add about three-quarters of the amount of beeswax you calculated. Continue to heat gently, stirring from time to time, until the beeswax has completely melted.
While the beeswax is melting, you can prepare your jars or tins. Wash them in hot soapy water, dry them, and set them all out where it’ll be easy to pour your final product into them.
Testing the Salve’s Consistency
Once the beeswax has melted, you can test your blend to see if you like the consistency. Dip a spoon in the melted mixture and leave a coating on it. Put the coated spoon in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and then check the spread-ability. Do you like it?
If it’s too runny / oily, add more beeswax – maybe a half tablespoon at a time.
If it’s too hard, you can add more olive oil, but take care not to add too much. The more olive oil you add, the more diluted the herb’s medicinal properties will become. You definitely don’t want to end up with an herbal salve that’s too diluted to be effective. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with less beeswax than you think you’ll need.
Adding Essential Oils
Once you’re happy with the consistency, it’s time to add any essential oils you want to use in your salve. The essential oils can add medicinal properties of their own or just be used for a nice fragrance.
Add 6-12 drops of essential oils per ounce of salve. Adding more than this can cause skin irritation, so don’t get carried away.
Thoroughly stir the oils into the mixture, then pour the salve into your prepared jars or tins. Allow the salve to cool, and then lid your containers. Beeswax is a great preservative, and your finished salve should last many years.
Homemade herbal salve can fill any purpose that you need. A plantain-based salve is the perfect first aid for cuts; calendula soothes and heals burns, and a salve made from horse chestnut effectively shrinks varicose veins. The possibilities are truly endless.
What will you make?
Did you discover something new? Don't stop here....
Sign up for my newsletter and come along with me on this journey. Once or twice a week, I'll send out an update with highlights, insights, and practical ideas for pursuing a holistic lifestyle.
To welcome you to my community, I have a few goodies I want to send you, including my new e-book, Ten Natural Health Habits You Can Start Today. In it, you'll find ten easy all-natural health habits that are doable today. No more waiting around or trying to find the perfect plan. Just get started today!
Green, James. The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual. Crossing Press, 2000.
This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.
Articles on this website may contain affiliate links. Using these links costs you nothing but generates a small commission for the blog author.