Make Your Own Medicine: Herbal Salve

This herbal salve is easy to make and treats an array of skin conditions.


| April/May 2012



Homemade Salves

Prepare homemade salves with ease. Kelly Wilkinson, author of “Weekend Handmade” (STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Books, 2011), makes pleasing salves your skin will love with herbs like rose, chamomile, tea tree and comfrey.


Photograph by Thayer Allyson Gowdy, ©Weekend Handmade by Kelly Wilkinson, published by STC Craft | Melanie Falick Books, 2011

As the warm weather lures us away from the hearth and onto bicycles and hiking trails, our skin is bound to endure some cuts, burns and rashes on the way. Prepare your medicine cabinet to treat such ails with an herbal salve.

Herbal Salve Recipe

Skin-Soothing Calendula Salve 

Salves are thickened ointments that are used to soothe various skin problems, depending on the plant that the salve was made from. They can treat chapped hands, wounds, mild burns, bites, stings, rashes, boils, acne and inflammation. To make a basic salve, all you need is an infused oil, beeswax and some essential oil.

Making Salves: The Key Ingredients

Infused oils are carrier oils that have been “infused” with one or more herbs. They are used to make any oil-based apothecary items, such as lip balms, creams, massage oils and salves. Although you can buy prepared infused oils, I like to make my own using the folk technique called the “solar infusion method.”

To make an infused oil at home, find a jar with a tight-fitting lid, such as a Mason jar, and fill it halfway full with a dried herb of your choice. Fill the jar with oil until it completely covers the herb (about three-quarters full). Any quality vegetable oil will work, but if you’re using this infused oil to make a salve, use one that can tolerate heat and is good for the skin, like olive or almond oil. Put the lid back on your jar and store it in a sunny location like a windowsill for three to six weeks. Shake the jar every day for the first week and once every week after that. When it’s fully infused, strain the oil through cheesecloth and store it in a closed jar for future use.

Beeswax thickens the salve and makes it easy to apply to the skin—it also provides slight anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, according to North Carolina State University. Laying a protective barrier between the wound and the air, it calms the skin and helps it retain moisture. You can find one-ounce bars of beeswax at your local health-food store.





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