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How To Make A Healing Salve

A How-To Guide to Making a Healing Salve

In the online herbal apprenticeship, we are studying plant energetics and their actions. Many of us in the herbal community share a passion for seeking out natural homemade remedies. We are not only studying plant’s actions individually, but also how to create vehicles for these herbs to work together with the body. These vehicles have names like a healing salve, tincture, infusion, decoction, and many more.

how to make a healing salve by HANE

One of the best ways to receive the benefits of herbs as well as alleviate dry skin is through the creation of a healing salve. The skin is one of the largest gateways on the body to receive actions of the plants. Calendula, or calendula officinalis, known commonly for its skin healing magic is a great herb to start with in salve making. It is used to heal wounds, rashes, and other skin irritations. This time of year, dryness, and irritation can be prevalent due to the weather’s icy bite and moisture-sapping indoor heat.

If you would like to play with your own mixture, it is highly recommended to research the actions and energetics of herbs. For the recipes provided today, here is some brief information on the herbal actions indicated.

  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), has anti-inflammatory actions. Meadowsweet, combined with calendula, which is healing for the skin, can soothe sore feet, hands, and shoulders as well as rough cracked skin that go along with hard work.
  • For a dry skin salve, you can use a calendula base, then add lavender (Lavandula), which is soothing and anti-inflammatory. The addition of coconut oil is very moisturizing as well as a nice compliment to the lavender smell.

To make a salve, you must have the following materials:

  • 1 cup of oil (coconut, or olive oil is best) - choose an organic oil like this one 
  • Equal parts dried herbs – we purchased our herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs
  • 1 ounce of beeswax (shaved)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Jars or containers to store salve in - We recommend using glass or tin containers which you can find easily on Amazon. Containers can be purchased in a number of sizes based on personal preference.
  • Essential oils are optional – like these

how to make a healing salve -materials

For the suggestions recommended above, here are the homemade salve recipes below.

 

Aches and Pains Salve
Ingredients

One part dried meadowsweet
One part dried calendula
One cup of olive oil
One ounce of beeswax
15-20 drops of roman chamomile essential oil to relax

 

Winter Salve-ation
Ingredients

One cup of coconut oil
One part lavender
Two parts dried calendula
One part dried rose
One ounce of beeswax
15-20 drops of grapefruit essential oil to uplift

 

The first step to making a healing salve is to create an herbal oil infusion.

Creating an herbal oil infusion can be completed through the double boiler method:

  • Place herbs and oil in Pyrex container or smaller pot, over top of a large pot with water about  ¼ full.
  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Once water is boiling, you can then turn the stove down to a simmer and let the herbs and oils infuse in this double boiler method for 30-60 minutes.
  • Take care not to splash water into your oil/herb infusion.

making a healing salve- infusion

Another method for making an infusion is called solar infusion. In this method, place herbs and oil in a sealed Mason jar and then position the jar in a sunlit area for 4-6 weeks. You can find more methods for creating making herbal infusions here.

Once you have completed your oil infusion, remove from heat and set aside.

Now you will prepare your infusion for the salve:

  • Place three layers of cheesecloth over top of a funnel or atop a bowl.
  • Pour the infused oils over cheesecloth to strain oil and keep herbs separated.
  • Once drained, gather the cheesecloth with your clean, dry hands and squeeze out the remaining oil.

Super Side Note! You can compost the remaining herbs in the cheesecloth. Or if you are using coconut oil, you can tie off the cheesecloth with a rubber band or string and place into a steaming bath for moisturizing and soul-awakening deliciousness.

beeswax for healing salve

Making The Healing Salve

  • Place your shaved beeswax in a pan over low heat, and pour the infused oil over top and melt together.
  • Once the beeswax and oil have combined, pour the mixture into jars.
  • Place your herbal salves the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to determine the solidification of the salve.

Using less beeswax will yield a more creamy salve, and more generous usage will yield a harder salve.

healing salve tutorial

Salve Application

Once complete, you can simply rub fingers over the top of your salve and then spread over desired area on the body, avoiding the eyes. One of the hidden benefits of salves is that they can make wonderful massage oils. Coconut oil is especially known for its ability to heat at lower temperatures, so it warms very well with natural body heat and the salve instantly becomes a massage-like oil. Use this opportunity, after bath or whenever you are using your salves, to mindfully take time for yourself or your loved one and massage any worries or tension away.

 

Learning how to make a healing salve is just one of the first things beginners learn in herbalism. If you are interested in studying herbalism, start your journey in the Online Introductory Herbal Course or in the Online Intermediate Herbal Course. Learn more about herbs and how to use them as medicine and as food.

 

REFERENCES

Rosalee de la Floret. (2013, June 15) Meadowsweet Herb: Queen of the Meadow. Retrieved from http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2013/06/meadowsweet-herb-queen-of-meadow.html

Gladstar, Rosemary. (2012) Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Herbal Academy of New England. (2013) Herbal First Aid, Herbal Academy of New England’s Medicine Making Handbook

 

This article is written by Lena Yakubowski, yoga teacher and communications assistant at the Herbal Academy of New England. Photos by Lena.

 

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16 comments


  • I love Rose Mountain Herbs. What a pretty color the salve turns out to be!

    January 14, 2014
    • Mountain Rose Herbs really is a great avenue for gathering supplies, They offer great pricing and a wide variety of products! Thanks for reading!

      January 14, 2014
  • Sandra Guidetti

    I tried to sign up for your mailing list, but could not get it to work after several attempts.
    If you would like to add me with the above address, that would be great

    January 16, 2014
    • Amber Meyers

      Bummer Sandra! No worries, I was able to add you to the newsletter. I’ll look into the issue though. Thanks for letting me know :)

      January 16, 2014
  • […] Academy of New England teaches us how to make a healing salve. Salves are a great way to treat wounds, rashes, or even dry […]

    January 17, 2014
  • […] How to Make a Healing Salve […]

    January 21, 2014
  • Michelle

    Looks fairly easy to make. I was just wondering does it make a difference as to the amount of herbs used? It only states one part of this or two parts of that…I’m rather new to all this. Thanks!!!

    January 21, 2014
    • Herbal Academy

      Good question, Michelle! A “part” is a self-referential measurement. It can be whatever you want. So if your part is one tablespoon, two parts would be two tablespoons, 3 parts would be 3 tablespoons, etc. To give you a better idea of specific ratios, a standard amount of herbs to infuse in one cup of oil is about 1/2 cup total herbs…but sometimes more oil will be called for depending on the herb: the goal is to totally cover the herbs (no bits and pieces sticking out). I hope this helps! Please feel free to follow up if you have any more questions.

      January 21, 2014
  • I recently discovered Mountain Rose Herbs – love them! I am intrigued by the idea that applying something to the skin can actually heal the body.

    February 13, 2014
    • Amber Meyers

      Very cool Kim! Welcome to the community!

      February 13, 2014
  • […] ————– A How-To Guide to Making a Healing Salve http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/01/how-to-make-a-healing-salve/ ————– America Impoverished: Census data shows Americans falling in and out of poverty […]

    February 16, 2014
  • […] specific instructions on how to make herbal tea, click here, or info on tinctures (here), salves (here), or poultices (here). Okay, I think all of my bases are covered now, time to get to the […]

    May 2, 2014
  • […] lavender in healing salves to take advantage of its anti-fungal properties.  The soothing scent of the salve will also help […]

    May 6, 2014
  • Debbie

    Wondering if you can use the salve to heal bed sores?

    June 7, 2014
    • Herbal Academy

      Hi Debbie – Salves may help with minor bed sores, but always check with your health care provider as complications like serious infections can arise that would require medical treatment.

      June 17, 2014
  • Lea

    Before I pour my melted oil/beeswax solution into jars, I test the consistency by taking a small spoonful, place in the freezer for a bit then test it to see how hard or soft it is. If it is too hard, I add more oil; if it is too soft, I add more beeswax. This is an easy way to test before pouring it into containers then finding out you need to add something to make it right. I always add by specific measurement: for example, if I need to add more beeswax, I add by the teaspoon until the right consistency is met (same for oils). When I do this, I can add that info to the “recipe” so I can replicate it in the future.

    June 27, 2014

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The Herbal Academy of New England is both a Boston Herbal School and an online herbalist resource center. We provide herbalist consultations, natural weight-loss counseling, and herbal classes in Boston. Online Herbal Programs include the Introductory Herbal Course and the Intermediate Herbal Course. We also offer an abundance of free online herb articles including topics on medicine making, gardening, vegetarian recipes, and learning herbs articles.
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