Make Your Own Herbal Healing Salves
This article was originally posted on Modern Alternative Mama.
As part of my ongoing quest to green the products in my bathroom, I tossed out a bag of commercial ointments and skin treatments and replaced them with home-made healing salves.My initial motivation was to replace a diaper rash cream that I realized was petroleum based. Not only that, but it didn’t work to heal my daughter’s rash. I found a company making small batch lotions and salves from organic herbs and oils for that first diaper cream replacement, but after doing some further research I realized it would be really easy to just make my own. These three recipes are ones I have developed and use at home on my family.These recipes are simple and don't require any special equipment and I've included links to help you find the specific ingredients (some of these are affiliate links). You can do this!A salve is simply an ointment used to promote healing or to protect the skin. The three salves I’m sharing below are based on herbal infusions, lending the healing properties of particular herbs to the concoction. I have chosen calendula, plantain and lavender because they are powerful, but gentle enough for babies and children, and unlikely to bother people with sensitive skin. If you have a knowledge of herbs, you can easily replace use different infusions to treat different kinds of skin afflictions, like eczema or psoriasis.Each of these recipes makes approximately 4 oz - enough for a small jam jar or several smaller tins or pots.I like to store my salves in glass jars, because glass is non-reactive, but be careful to store them out of direct sunlight to preserve the strength of the herbs and keep the oils from going rancid too fast. If any of your salves develop mold or begin to smell “off” discard them immediately, sterilize the container, and make a new batch.This is my household’s all-purpose healing salve. I use it for minor abrasions, dray or chapped skin, itchy rashes from close encounters with various scratchy plants in the yard, and diaper rash. I sometimes use it in place of ointment under a bandaid. Calendula (also known as pot marigold) has been used for centuries to heal wounds and skin irritations. Herbalists describe it as having anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, anti fungal, antiviral, and immunostimulant properties.It is also thought to stimulate the production of collagen, which reduces scarring. It is also gentle enough to use for babies and children. Plaintain leaf has similar properties and is also effective at relieving and soothing the itch of bites and rashes.I have recently been using organic grape seed oil for my herbal recipes, but many salve recipes I have reviewed use olive oil instead. If that’s what you have on hand go ahead and use it!
1/2 cup grape seed oil infused with calendula flowers and plantain leaf*2T beeswax pastilles20 drops lavender essential oil (optional)Combine the oil and wax in a double boiler until wax is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and mix in the essential oil, if using. Pour into jars or other lidded containers, but leave the lids off until the mixture has completely cooled and hardened.*To infuse the oil with herbs, pour 1 1/2 cups of grape seed (or other) oil over 1/2 cup dried plantain leaf and 1 cup dried calendula flowers in a pint jar. Heat the jar of oil and herbs in a pan over water at a low simmer for 3-4 hours. Cover and store in a cool, dark place for another 1-3 days before using the oil. Strain the oil as you measure it for your recipe to remove the herbs.I hunted down a recipe for burn salve after my 2-year-old, who loves to cook with me, accidentally touched the edge of a hot pan with the back of her finger. Now I keep a lib-balm tube of this salve in a cupboard right next to the stove. Thankfully I haven’t needed it for my daughter again, but I have used it for myself a couple of times! Although I haven’t tried it for sunburns I think it would be quite soothing.
Modified from a recipe found on The Militant Baker1/2 cup grape seed oil2 T + 2 tsp beeswax pastilles1/4 oz dried lavender buds1/4 oz dried calendula flowers 1 T honeySteep herbs in oil for 30 min in a double boiler at a simmer. Strain out the herbs from the oil. Return the oil to the double boiler and add wax and honey. Mix until completely melted and dissolved. Pour hot mixture into containers to cool.To use, apply a generous amount over burned skin immediately. Reapply as needed while healing.While researching this recipe I found one source who said she was given the recipe by an Amish farmer, after she saw him applying a strange black goop to his hand after getting a large wooden splinter. In every recipe I’ve read, the comments are full of people saying their grandmother or great-grandmother had a pot of this black salve in her bathroom cabinet and they hadn’t known where to buy it or how to make more.The combination of charcoal and clay are what make this a drawing salve - the absorbent qualities of those ingredients help draw out foreign objects, like splinters, as well as poisons from insect bites and stings. This is a great salve to have on hand and it seems to last indefinitely.To use this salve, clean the area well and pat dry. Apply a generous amount of salve and cover with gauze or a bandage. Leave for a few hours or overnight. Repeat as needed until the splinter or other item can be removed from the skin.
Black Drawing Salve
Modified from a recipe found on The Nerdy Farmwife.6 T grape seed oil infused with with calendula flowers and plantain leaf*2 T coconut oil1 T beeswax pastilles1 1/2 T activated charcoal1 T kaolin or bentonite clay15 drops tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil 30 drops lavender essential oil (optional)Combine first three ingredients in a double boiler until wax is completely melted. Remove from heat, mix in charcoal, clay and essential oils. Pour into jars and let cool completely before closing.*To infuse the oil with herbs, pour 1 1/2 cups of grape seed (or other) oil over 1/2 cup dried plantain leaf and 1 cup dried calendula flowers in a pint jar. Heat the jar of oil and herbs in a pan over water at a low simmer for 3-4 hours. Cover and store in a cool, dark place for another 1-3 days before using the oil. Strain the oil as you measure it for your recipe to remove the herbs.What salve or ointment would you like to replace in your household?To get posts like this delivered directly to your mailbox (along with my free ebook and a monthly newsletter), you can sign up right here.