If you’re anything like me, you need to have a good healing salve on hand to use after a day spent outdoors, in the garden, or working with your hands in some way.
I especially love making this salve with oils infused with skin nourishing weeds which have been gathered while on my daily walks around my 7 acre homestead. I’m always out and about scouting for any new and useful herb that might have popped up.
Not only are many of these herbs edible, but many have beneficial or medicinal properties as well. I love being able to turn a plant that many refer to as “weeds” into something beneficial, useful, or nourishing to the body in some way.
What is a Salve?
Salves are medicinal formulations that are rubbed into the skin. Salves and ointments are semi-solid and are usually used for scrapes, burns, skin irritations, and other bothersome skin conditions.
The simplest salves and ointments are made by adding beeswax, or if your vegan, carnauba or candillila wax to herb infused oil and heating all together until the wax is melted.
The amount of wax need will vary depending on the type of wax you’re using as well as the climate you live in. Warmer climates generally require you to use a bit morewax to keep the salve firm.
Salves made this way have a good shelf life of 1 to 2 years, as opposed to handmade hand cream which typically only keep for about a month refrigerated.
What is an Oil Infusion
This is the method of of extracting an herbs medicinal properties into an oil to later use in salves and ointments. This method can also be used internally…think rosemary infused oilve oil.
Basic Method for Oil Infusion
- Fill a mason jar with your dried herbs, leaving 1 to three inches of headspace in the jar to cover with oil. Some great oils to use for their skin nourishing properties are rosehip , jojoba, and sweet almond oil.
- Pour your carrier oil of choice into the jar, making sure to cover the herbs by at least one inch. Check your herbs daily. If they expand in the jar, you may need to add additional oil to keep them submerged.
- Cap the jar tightly and shake well.
- Place jar on a sunny, windowsill and shake a few times per day.
- After 2 to 3 weeks, strain the oil from your herbs using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. You’ll want to gently squeeze any remaining oil out of your herbs..you don’t want to waste a drop!
Making Your Salve
To make a healing salve, make an herbal oil as described above. Use a 6:1-8:1 ratio of oil to beeswax, depending on how firm you want your salve. For softer salve use less wax, and for harder use more. This translates into around 1 oz. of wax to every 6-8 ounces of oil.
Best Herbs for skin Healing Salves
Here are some of my favorite herbs and ones you might want to consider for their skin-healing properties.
- Chickweed (Stellaria media)- – used to soothe bug bites, burns, cuts, and itchiness
- Purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum)- anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial for itchy or inflamed skin conditions
- Dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale)- high antioxidant content, protects skin from the free radicals. Skin nourishing, soothing, anti-aging, Natural acne remedy
- Violet flowers and leaves (Viola odorata, V. sororia )- soother of inflamed skin and can help tame rashes, hives & eczema. It can moisturize, tone and heal the skin.
- Plantain (Plantago major) – has wound healing properties, which makes it great as an acne treatment.
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – commonly used for wounds, rashes, infection, inflammation, and many other conditions.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – used for skin infections, signs of skin aging, eases inflammation & increases skin moisture.
- Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) – softens skin, reduces inflammation, protects against harmful UV rays, protects skin from bacteria and toxins.
To make this herbal healing salve, you’ll need to first make an infused oil and then add a tiny bit of beeswax to firm it up. Beeswax also helps to create a nourishing barrier for your skin.
Herbal Healing Salve recipe
Working Hands Healing Salve
- Mason Jar
- A double-boiler, or make-shift double boiler – such as a pot within a pot, or a glass pyrex bowl or stainless steel bowl perched on top of a saucepan with water below. The use of a double-boiler is important to reduce overheating the herbal oil which would reduce its healing potency.
- 2 oz. glass jars or tins (you'll need four of them)
- 2 parts comfrey leaf - 1/2 cup
- 1 part calendula or yarrow flower - 1/4 cup
- 1 part purple dead nettle - 1/4 cup
- 1 1/2 cups carrier oil
- lavender essential oil - a few drops
- 1 oz. wax beeswax, candellila or carnauba
- vitamin E oil optional - 1/2 tsp.
- Place your dried herbs in a mason jar, leaving a few inches of headspace.
- Pour in your carrier oil until your herbs are covered. Your oil should be at least one inch above your herbs in the jar. I love sweet almond oil, but you can also use jojoba, olive or another quality fixed oil.
- Place the jar on a warm, sunny windowsill for 2-3 weeks.
- Shake a few times daily.
- When the oil has been infused with your herbs, strain your herbs from the oil.
- Mix one cup of the herb infused oil with 1 oz. of wax (more or less depending on the firmness you'd like to achieve), and a few drops of essential oil.
- Using a double boiler, melt your wax into the herbal oil.
- Pour into 2 oz. glass jars or tins.
- Allow to cool - they will harden as they cool off.
- Store in cool, dry, dark place for a up to 2 years.
Bruton-Seal, Julie, and Matthew Seal. The Big Book of Backyard Medicine. New York, NY, Skyhorse Publishing, 2020.
Easley, Thomas, and Steven Horne. The Modern Herbal Dispensatory. Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 2016.