Making Salves and Balms (Part 2)

In my previous post, “Infusing Oil for Making Salves, Soaps, Etc.”, I walked you through infusing oils. If you haven’t yet infused your oil, go here for a quick tutorial.

If you’re not yet sure what plants you’d like to use, here are some suggestions:

  • Jewelweed- For poison ivy rash (and protection) and bug bites.
  • Yarrow or Comfrey- For cuts, scrapes, and bruises
  • Calendula- For diaper rash, skin irritations, cuts and scrapes, chapped lips, etc.
  • Plantain- For bug bites, skin irritations, and rashes
  • Rose bud- For lip balm

Ok, now that you have infused your healing herbs in oil, it’s time to make them into a salve.

For the salve, you will need the following:

  • A double boiler
  • Infused oil
  • Bee’s wax, grated (or bee’s wax granules)
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Essential oil of your choice (optional)
  • Plastic transfer pipettes (optional)

Making Salves and Balms via Kentucky Forager

As I mentioned before, I don’t have a true double boiler, so I just used a heat safe glass bowl over a sauce pan. I like to use a sauce pan with a pouring spout. It leaves room for some steam to escape. I’ve found that leaving no space will sometimes cause pressure to build, causing boiling hot water to spurt out from around the bowl.

The only tricky part to making salve is getting the consistency to your liking. If you are wanting a very soft salve, start with an 8:1 ratio oil to wax. (i.e. 8 tbsp. oil to 1 tbsp. bee’s wax) If you are wanting a more solid salve, go with a 6:1 ratio, and for a very firm salve (consistency of tube lip balm), use a 4:1 ratio. You can play around with the consistency once the wax is melted.

For my jewelweed salve, I used 10 tbsp. jewelweed oil and 2 tbsp. wax. (5:1)

For my yarrow lip balm, I used a 8 tbsp. oil and 2 tbsp. wax. (4:1)


Heat the oil and bee’s wax in the double boiler until bee’s wax has melted.

Making Salves and Balms via Kentucky Forager

Once the wax melts, add a small amount of vitamin E oil (for preservation purposes). Approximately 1/4 tsp. E oil to every 5 tbsp. salve.

Now, check the consistency of your salve. The easiest way to do this is to place a drop on a metal jar lid that has been in the refrigerator. (Pickle jar, jelly jar, etc.) You can also place a spoon in the refrigerator prior to making your salve to use for this purpose. It will solidify almost instantly on the cold metal. Feel the drop of salve, and if it is too soft, add more wax. If it’s too firm, add more oil until you get the consistency you like.

You can add a few drops of essential oil to your salve (mainly for scent), but this step is entirely up to you. I added peppermint oil to my jewelweed salve, and nothing to my yarrow lip balm.

Now the salve is ready to transfer to your containers (jars, tins, tubes, etc.).

With a steady hand, spoon or pour the salve into the containers. If you are using small containers or tubes, I would highly recommend using disposable plastic transfer pipettes.

Making Salves and Balms via Kentucky Forager

 Making Salves and Balms via Kentucky Forager

Allow the salve to solidify before sealing.

Making Salves and Balms via Kentucky Forager

Yarrow and Jewelweed salves

That’s all there is to it! Your salve is now ready to use.




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