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Make Healing Salves This Afternoon, from Weeds in Your Garden

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

I've edited this article to highlight how to make salves, simply and at home. For the full read, please click the creators name above. She has good recipes and writes well.

I may receive a commission if you purchase something mentioned in this post.

Salves are mixtures of oil and wax that deliver benefits. If you’ve ever rubbed a Vapor Rub™ on a child’s chest or had someone put it on your chest, you’ve used a salve. When you have applied a tube of Chap Stick™ to your lips, you’ve used a salve. Rubbing that tube of diaper rash cream on a baby’s bum, is using a salve. The problem with most salves that you buy at the drug store is that these salves are petroleum based, using paraffin wax and petrolatum (Vasoline™) as the base.

Save $$ by making your own salves

You can buy herbal salves made with beeswax instead of paraffin wax or olive oil instead of petrolatum. In fact, this shift back to organic, natural, renewable ingredients is what made the Burt’s Bees™ line of products so popular. Organic products come with a premium price tag, though. Organic salves often sell for $15 to $20 or more for a 2-ounce tin. So by making your own you can save a lot of money. In fact, with my easy method of salve making, you’ll feel like you’re getting paid to play in the kitchen. One salve making session, using my method, can set you up with all the salves you’ll need for months.

Local plants are more potent

Healing salves are easy to make from the weeds you have in your garden. Different weeds offer different healing actions so knowing what to expect from different plants can help you customize the herbal salves that you make to suit your needs.

The plants growing in your own backyard and in close proximity to your home are challenged with the same stressors that you are challenged by. If they are thriving they have the energetics to also help you thrive. Plants growing close to you, that you harvest yourself, will also be fresher and filled with vitality. So begin your herbal harvest in your own backyard for the most potent medicine.

Harvest only plants that you know haven’t been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides. Choose organically grown weeds. If you are harvesting on private property, not your own, ask permission before you harvest. If you are harvesting on public land ensure that you have the permission to do so.

Logistics of Ninja Salve Making

You’ll need:

  • 2 saucepans

  • 2 glass 1 cup measuring cups

  • 2 canning jar rings

  • 2 medium size cloth tea bags, approximately 4 x 6 inches

  • Olive oil or other carrier oil

  • Beeswax in 1 tbsp. (12 gram) portions

  • Herbs, if possible dry herbs overnight before proceeding (except St. John’s wort flowers)

  • Salve containers such as small glass jars with lids, salve tins, small jam jars

  • Paper towels to wipe containers between recipes

Basic Salve Recipe

Yield: 2 ½ ounces (75ml)

Salves are made up of:

  • 4 parts olive oil or other liquid carrier oil

  • 2 parts medicinal herb, dried or 4 parts medicinal herb fresh, wilted

  • 1 part beeswax

The 4 to 1 ratio of oil to beeswax ensures that the salve has enough body to stay solid in the container at normal room temperature. It makes the salve easy to apply. The salve will melt on contact with the skin and won’t leave a sticky feeling.

If the salve seems too greasy or oily try using a drying oil like grapeseed oil in place of olive oil. I use olive oil in these recipes because it is inexpensive. You can substitute with another carrier oil, but please avoid the use of genetically modified oils such as canola oil, soy oil, and corn oil. These oils are likely contaminated with glyphosate, a known carcinogen.

Basic Directions for Salve Making:

  1. Create a double boiler by placing a glass measuring cup on a canning jar ring, in a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water so that the water comes half way up the side of the glass measuring cup.

  2. Place the dried plant material in a reusable cloth tea bag. Place the tea bag in the measuring cup. Cover the tea bag of plant material with the oil.

  3. Bring the saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering gently for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat. When the tea bag is cool enough to handle, press the tea bag with the back of a spoon to strain out as much herbal infused oil as possible. I find that a potato ricer is very helpful in getting the last drops of herbal oil out of the macerated herbs. Compost the spent herb. The cloth tea bag can be washed and reused several times.

  4. Return the infused oil to the glass cup. Add the beeswax. Simmer once again over medium heat to melt the beeswax. As soon as the beeswax is fully liquid remove from the heat. Stir well. Continue stirring while the mixture begins to cool.

  5. Prepare your chosen containers by sanitizing them with 99% isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel. Wipe down the inside of the container and the lid. Allow the containers to air dry.

  6. When it looks like the salve is beginning to thicken, spoon into the sanitized salve containers. Wait until the mixture has cooled fully before placing the lid on the jars. Capping the jars while the mixture is still warm will cause condensation inside the container, which can lead to contamination.

  7. Label the jars with the name of the salve and the date, and any instructions.

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