Balms And Homemade Herbal Salves

Calendula * Coconut oil * Comfrey Leaf and root * Lemon Balm *

Herbal oils form a great basis for salves and balms, or you can use a plain vegetable oil such as jojoba or olive. While homemade salves take a bit of practice, once you start making and enjoying them you will never go back to store bought.

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Any body oil or herbal oil can be turned into a salve with the addition of wax. The more wax you use the firmer the salve. Firmer salves like lip balms are more protective, while softer salves are more penetrating and useful for treating cuts and scrapes.

  • Ratios :
  • Body Salve: 3 oz oil to 1 oz beeswax (liquid measures)
  • Summer salves: 2 oz oil to 1 oz beeswax
  • Lip Balm: 2 oz oil to 1 oz wax
  1. Use a water bath or double boiler to heat oil and wax together until completely melted. My favorite vessel for this is a heat proof Pyrex measuring cup.* You can melt the wax separately to reduce the amount of time you have to heat the oil if you are working with a oil that is sensitive to heat.
  2. Test the viscosity of your salve buy pouring a dab out onto a cold plate. If you are satisfied with the consistency pour off into jars to cool. If you need to add more wax, now is the time to do it. Keep in mind that you can make a salve firmer fairly easily at this point, but if you overshoot and make it too hard it is near to impossible to fix.
  3. Balms: Balms are simply salves with the addition of essential oils. Add aromatic oils when mix is still warm, and seal to preserve the aroma.

Basic Body Butter - No heating method

  • 4 tablespoons Solid oil (*Shea, Coconut Oil, Cocoa Butter )
  • 1 -2 teaspoons Liquid oil - (vitamin E oil, carrier oil, herbal oils)
  • Essential oils - 7 to 10 drops

Using an electric mixer, cream all the oils together until it gets a nice airy consistency and spoon into clean jars. I find that shea butter is just right and my first choice for working with a unheated salve. Cocoa butter is hard to work with at room temperature and may need to be softened up a bit first. The consistency of Coconut oil varies greatly, it will melt at 76 degrees; so your salve will revert to an oil in a warm house in the summer.

* If you can find one on at a garage sale or eBay made before 1998 - grab it. In 1998, Corning sold the brand to World Kitchen LLC. Since then, Pyrex sold in the United States is made of tempered soda-lime glass, which does not handle heat as well as the old model. For our purposes it works fine, but just FYI.


Looking for something you can read offline? Join our mailing list and get a free copy of Methods for Using Herbs. This free handbook includes instructions on how to make basic herbal preparations at home. It covers making herbal teas, herb infused oils and balms, tinctures, and more.