DIY Organic Herbal Salve

diy organic herbal healing salve

Written by Natalie Klejwa, Contributing Writer

Salves are wonderful to have on hand for everything from diaper rash to bee stings. You can purchase them pre-made from various online vendors, your local health food store, or farmer’s market. But did you know they are quite easy to make yourself?

I’m going to teach you the basics of how to make a salve so that you can come up with your own creative, custom- made concoctions. I’m also going to give you the recipe that we use to make our best selling Organic Herbal Salve. Really? Really!

There are three basic ingredients in a salve:

  • Herbs
  • Oil
  • Wax

You can also add essential oils of your choice; five drops per ounce is a good rule of thumb. Some essential oils to consider for a salve might include lavender, tea tree, chamomile, and myrrh. A helpful resource to learn more about essential oils is The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood.

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Herbs

Some herbs commonly used in skin repair applications include:

Calendula
Chamomile
Usnea
Echinacea
Pau D’Arco
Lavender
Yarrow
St. John’s Wort
Goldenseal
Myrrh
Plantain
Comfrey

To find out more about different herbs and what they do, I recommend Practical Herbalism: Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Powers by Philip Fritchey, MN, ND, CNHP.

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You can choose to make a salve with one herb or several herbs. When making a salve for babies or small children, the simpler, the better, to avoid the possibility of an allergic reaction. Some excellent herbs for a baby salve are calendula, chamomile, and lavender.

Our favorite resource for high quality, organic herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs. We usually purchase the powdered version of the herbs we use because the finer the grind, the more of the herb’s healing properties that will be released into the oil infusion. If you are using whole herbs, you will want to grind them up using a coffee grinder or Vitamix dry container/blade.

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Oil

The first step in making a salve is to make an oil infusion. I highly recommend using olive oil for this step because it does not go rancid and is antimicrobial.

To make your infusion, fill a glass jar half full with finely ground herbs of your choice. Pour the oil over the herbs so that they are not exposed to air. Don’t fill your jar too full! You will want to leave room for the herbs to expand in the oil.

Cover the jar tightly and place in a sunny window for 2-4 weeks, shaking them each day to move the herbs around. If you want to do a quicker infusion, line the bottom of a crock pot with a wash cloth, fill with enough water so that it won’t overflow when you put your jar in, and place the jar in a crock pot set to the lowest setting.

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The warmth from the water surrounding the jar with draw out the healing components of the herbs, causing the oil to take on their color and scent. You can let your oil infuse for 1-4 days. I usually let my jars sit in the sun for a couple of weeks, and then I heat infuse them for a couple of days. This makes my salve a nice dark green color, indicating a high herbal content for the greatest possible benefit.

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Once your oil has been infused, you will need to strain it with muslin or perhaps cheesecloth that has been doubled or tripled.

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Wax

Your salve will need some wax to make it solid. Beeswax is perfect for this, but if you are vegan, you may prefer carnauba wax or candelilla wax which are plant based. You will want to use 1-2 ounces of wax per cup of infused oil, depending on how hard you want the finished product to be. If you live in a warm climate, you may want it to be harder, so you would use more wax, and vice versa if you live in a cold climate.

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After you’ve added your wax of choice to the oil, slowly melt it all together on low heat until the wax has dissolved completely.

An easy way to test your salve to see if it is the desired hardness is to put a few drops of the melted oils and wax on a piece of wax paper. After it cools, touch it. If it is hard to the initial touch, but then melts into your finger after a few seconds, it is ready to pour into your containers!

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At this point, I like to add vitamin E oil and grapefruit seed extract…just a few drops per cup of oil…to my salve.  This aids as a natural preservative to prolong the shelf life of your salve.

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Now all you need to do is pour the mixture into your containers and allow to cool!  You can use pint sized mason jars, or you can get fancy and purchase containers online at places like Wholesale Supplies Plus.

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Apple Valley Natural Soap’s Organic Herbal Salve Recipe

1. Fill a mason jar (you pick the size) halfway full with equal parts of the following organic herbs:

  • St. John’s Wort
  • Echinacea Purpurea Root
  • Echinacea Purpurea Leaf
  • Plantain Leaf
  • Yarrow Flower
  • Rosemary Leaf
  • Comfrey Leaf
  • Calendula blossom

2. Cover with virgin, organic olive oil and allow to infuse for 2- 4 weeks in a sunny window, shaking daily.  Alternatively, use the crockpot method to heat infuse the oils for two days.

3. Strain oil into a sauce pan and add 2 ounces of unrefined beeswax per pint of mixture and heat just until the beeswax is melted.

4. Add a few drops of vitamin E oil and grapefruit seed extract.

5. Pour into containers and allow to cool.

6. Apply to bug bites, sunburn, minor scratches, poison ivy, diaper rash, and anything else you might use an antibiotic ointment for.

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Here are some testimonials from customers who have used this salve recipe:

I just got attacked by what I thought was a horse fly, but I looked out on the porch, and there is a swarm of wasps building a nest. They stung me over and over again on my ear and neck, and it really hurt. I ran in and put on your salve and it felt better right away.

Stacie

Cleared my son’s diaper rash right up, like nothing else I’ve used! And I have 3 kids, I’ve tried it all. Even the hard to get rid of yeast bumps were gone overnight. AMAZING!

Rachel

Sometimes my feet start to itch and in the past, the more I scratched, the more it itched. Lotions didn’t help. One night I tried the salve, and the itching stopped almost immediately. Now, I just keep the jar right in my room! My ankles thank you!

Kris

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how much I am loving the salve. I’ve tried it out here and there for different things and its worked. But nothing impressed me more than today when I got bumped taking something out of the oven and my inner (very sensitive skin) arm hit the door. My skin turned bright red (just a first degree burn thankfully), I decided to try the salve. By the time supper was over I couldn’t even feel the burn.

Jacinta

Stephanie’s note: I couldn’t resist adding my two cents to this post. I also use this salve regularly in my home, and it really is amazing. I have used it with great success on diaper rash, as well as to help cuts and scraped heal faster and with less pain, as well as less scarring. It is definitely a staple in my medicine cabinet! And for those who have asked, you can buy it pre-made here.

Do you make salve?  What are some herbal combinations you’ve used?

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

About Natalie Klejwa

Natalie is wife to Joe and home educating mother to nine children ages 2-20. When she isn't teaching children, changing diapers, or cleaning the kitchen, she administrates the Visionary Womanhood blog and runs their family's cottage business, Apple Valley Natural Soap. Her latest book project is Three Decades of Fertility.

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Comments

  1. Gabrielle says:

    Thanks Natalie for your wonderful recipe. Could i ask what herbs you used to make that beautiful green salve, it looks divine. Thanks

  2. I have chronic gout and have ongoing pain in my feet…sometimes10+…I’ m using oregano oil and magnesium oil on my feet 5-6 X daily and I have used Anbesol in the past for topical issues…I’m thinking of making a pain relieving salve for my own feet using all of the above. Does anyone know how well valerian would work topically? And is anyone out there aware of any other people dealingwith chronic pain topically?

  3. Recently started using plantain for poison ivy! Love it. I was wondering if mint is good for salves? Maybe for cooling effect? Have you used jewel weed?

  4. Hi there,
    I’m curious as to how many containers this will fill. I see in one of the photos that the salve is being poured into one of several little white jars. What size are they, and how many does the recipe fill? Also, in the recipe it says equal parts of each herb…but how much do you use? One teaspoon? One tablespoon? Thank you so much for any advice on my questions…
    ~Sarah S.

    • It all depends on what you want to make. You can make one jar or ten jars. But you need to fill each jar 1/2 full with herbs. Just pour some herbs in…I eyeball the amounts until the jar is half full. If you are going to use two herbs…then you’d put in 1/4 jar of one herb and 1/4 jar of the other herb. If you are using 6 herbs…then you divide that into 1/2…so you’d be filling the jar with 1/12 of a jar of each herb. Because the possibilities are endless depending on how much you want to make and which herbs you want to use…you’ll need to customize the recipe to your own needs. You may want to fill jars that can hold 6 ounces each. I use jars that hold 2 ounces each. There are too many variables to cover them all in the post. : )

      • Woops…wanted to clarify…at the END of my comment I’m talking about the containers that you pour the finished product into. I use small, 2 ounce low profile jars. In the rest of the comment I’m referring to the large mason jars I use to infuse the olive oil. I apologize for any confusion. :)

        • Thank you for explaining the ratios and also what size contains you are using for the finished product. I’m Brand New to making natural products for our family. I’m loving it so far (I’ve made 4 things so far), but I am nervous about making errors that would cause the product to be ineffective, know what I mean? So, thank you again for helping me understand it better. I can’t wait for my herbs and the containers to arrive (I also went with 2 oz. containers) so I can give this a whirl. Woohoo! :D

  5. My son and I have very sensitive lips – they constantly crack and peel. Very few commercial products made for lips (Chapstik, Blistex, even Burt’s Bees) help, and most actually make things worse. What I end up using is the cheapest lip gloss I can find because, ironically, the cheap stuff actually moisturizes my lips instead of making them crack and peel more. For years, I used “Bag Balm” (made for animals – eep!) because it was the only thing that helped. I’ve since run out and haven’t found any locally. My dermatologist scratched his head, shrugged his shoulders and offered to write me a Rx for a steroid cream to see if that helped. No thanks. Do you think this salve or something similar would help? I’d rather not have to go back to using a veterinary product. ;)

    • Hi Melissa,
      Our Lanolin Intensive Lip Formula is excellent for the worst lip problems. The key “working” ingredients are medical grade lanolin (very important!) and argan oil. It also has virgin coconut oil and unrefined cocoa butter. We have two other lip balms that may help as well, but this one is our hardest working balm. I have had horrible lips in the past, which is why I formulated these balms. They WORK! The other thing I use on the rim of my lips (where the skin meets the lip tissue) is pure, virgin argan oil. That stuff is amazing. I actually use it on my entire face. These items can be purchased on our online store. Stephanie put the link in above, but I’ll add it here as well: http://www.applevalleynaturalsoap.com

    • Having been involved for many years in healh care…I know that mentholatum is the best thing I’ve ever found!

  6. Is there somewhere I can purchase this (online or otherwise)? I am out straight taking care of homeschool, my ill mother who just moved in with us, a car wreck, etc, etc, and just don’t have the time. But I could really use this!

  7. I’d love to try this sometime. I just wished that you shipped your products to Canada so I could get my hands on this before “sometime” is reality for making things like this at my house! :)

  8. I cannot WAIT to try this!! I order shampoo bars from Apple Valley and forgot to add salve to my last order. I was kicking myself! I usually order herbs (and teas) from Savvy Teas and Herbs and was comparing their prices with Mountain Rose Herbs. One herb is cheaper here, another there so I think I’ll just order from Savvy Teas. Thank you, Natalie, for being generous enough to share your salve recipe with us. And I’ll still order salve from you next week because I have to wait for my herbs to come in and then wait 2-4 weeks for it to “finish!”

  9. Wow, how sweet of you to share the recipe! I have a couple questions, where is the cheapest place to get beeswax? I bought it on ebay last time, not sure if there’s a better resource. Also, where do you find muslin?

  10. Thanks so much for this post! I was thinking about making a plantain salve and hadn’t looked up how to do it. All your directions are right here and easy to follow, with pictures too! Thanks again for helping us moms take good care of our little ones!

  11. You’ve done a wonderful job demonstrating how to make an herbal healing salve. I have done this in the past, with the help of a friend. I call my finished product “Mama’s Healing Cream” — but I need to restock! I do have fresh plantain, and am wondering if I could use that in place of dried. Do you have recommendations on how I’d go about using fresh herbs?

    • You wouldn’t want to use fresh herbs when you are making a salve as the moisture from the herbs may cause the salve to grow bacteria. You will want to dry your herbs first in a dehydrator…or allow them to “air dry” by tying them up and hanging them until they are completely dry. Once they are dry, you can proceed with the recipe above! Plantain is one of the BEST herbs to include in a “bug-bite-treatment” salve! I actually add more plantain to our salve for that purpose.

  12. Natalie,

    This salve saved me. I was about to throw in the towel and go see a medical doctor about my out-of-control poison ivy last week. The salve you sent me is fantastic! And now I can try making my own, hurrah! Thank you :)

    • Oh, I’m so happy to hear it helped! I prayed it would give you relief. Yes, now you can make your own! You’ll love having it on hand…and giving it away too! : )

  13. I have been using this salve since Natalie started making it (we attend church together). It is the ONLY thing that helped my son’s bleeding diaper rash and sensitive face rashes. When the children get colds and chapped nose/lips, they always want the salve. We keep one on each level of the home and in the cars (be careful in the hot summer though – we keep it in a zip lock in case it leaks). I have passed on many tubs to friends! We always reach for the salve first for ANY skin issue. I recently had an infection brewing in my pierced ear hole and this salve took care of it overnight! I also use it as a dry cuticle moisturizer, in Minnesota I really struggle with dry, peeling, cracking cuticles when it changes over to winter, and a few weeks of using the salve helps the cuticles be able to survive the winter! It also lasts quite a long time!

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