Let's Make Salve!

Calendula and lavender

Calendula and lavender

Welcome to the World of Salve Making!

Making salves (rhymes with "calves") is a simple process that requires some time and a little mess, but the results are well worth it. Not only will you be able to use the salve for yourself, but you’ll be making enough that you can share with family and friends, spreading the love of healing herbs far and wide.

This is a two-step process:

1.       Make your herb-infused oil.

2.       Use the oil to make a salve.


Chamomile drying

Chamomile drying


Herb-Infused Oil

In the simplest terms possible, this step is basically putting dried herbs in a jar, covering them with oil, then letting them sit on a windowsill for six weeks. Then you strain the herbs out, and you’re done!

Here's the step-by-step process:

a) If you have fresh herbs, let them dry by hanging in bundles upside down, or in a dehydrator to remove moisture (moisture = spoilage.)

b) Prepare a glass jar by cleaning and sterilizing  it (run through your dishwasher and then put in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes, or submerge in boiling water for 10 minutes.)

c) Crush or chop your herb leaves, but leave your flower petals whole.

Plantain in cheesecloth

Plantain in cheesecloth

d) Use an organic carrier oil that suits your end product: olive oil is fine for bodily applications, sweet almond oil is better for cosmetic uses, jojoba oil is great for any use and has a long shelf life.

d) Add vitamin E oil to prolong shelf life (500 IUs for every 8 oz of carrier oil.)

e) Cap your jar tightly and place in a warm place away from direct sunlight.

f) Shake the jar daily, or whenever you remember.  The herbs should always be submerged in the oil; if the oil level goes down (herbs will absorb it), add more oil.

Squeezing out the oil

Squeezing out the oil

g) Allow your herbs to sit for at least six weeks.  Traditional herbalists recommend putting up oil extractions and tinctures on the new moon and finishing on the full moon occurring six weeks later.

h) Pour the oil through a strainer lined with cheese cloth, squeezing the cheesecloth to get out all the oil.

i) Store in a clean jar or bottle in a cool, dark place (amber glass works well to protect from light that will shorten the shelf life of the oil.) Use the oil as is, or go to step two to make salve!



Grating beeswax

Grating beeswax

Let's make some salve!

In this process we’re basically combining the oil with beeswax (or Carnauba wax for a vegan salve). The beeswax helps solidify the oil and makes it easier to apply.

Ms. Kelley’s recipe for Healing Salve:

4 oz plantain oil (the herb - not the banana!)

4 oz calendula oil

1 oz grated beeswax or pastilles

1-10 drops lavender oil

1 Vitamin E capsule

Pouring warm salve into jars

Pouring warm salve into jars


1.       Add beeswax to a pot or double boiler and melt on the lowest setting possible. Be careful - it burns easily!

2.       Whisk in oils until combined.

3.       Allow to cool slightly, then add essential oil and vitamin E oil.

4.       Quickly pour into glass measuring cup.

5.       Pour into glass jars and allow to cool completely.

6.       Cap tightly and store in a cool location. If stored in a cool location, your salve will last one to three years.


Final product cooling off

Final product cooling off

If you would like a softer salve, use less beeswax, for a firmer salve, use more.

You can use a combination of oils, or just one kind. Some popular choices for herbs to use in a salve include: arnica flowers, calendula, chamomile, echinacea, comfrey, lavender, plantain, and yarrow.

Check out this great website for more information:


Thank you to the Highland Hall Fifth Grade for their help in demonstrating how to make salve!