Once you have made your herbal infused oil, making an herbal salve is super easy.
For information on how to make your own herbal oil please see my blog post
For this salve we are using herbal infused calendula oil using dried blossoms
What is a Salve?
A salve is an ointment of oil and a thickener designed to keep the herbal oil on a specific spot of skin. They are easier to transport than herbal oils, which tend to leak and ooze from their jars. A salve can be used on any body part like the knees, hands, legs and lips. Salves can be used to soothe skin conditions and irritations, bug bites and minor wounds.
Traditional salves use beeswax to thicken the oil. I am not a fan of using wax on my skin, so I choose to thicken my salves with stiff butters or brittle oils. I prefer how the butters absorb into my skin rather than sit on top. There are times that sitting on top is a good thing. For example, in lip balms, having wax in the formula helps the oils stay on the lips and create a barrier against moisture and wind. But for me, topical applications of herbal oils on skin covered with cloth feel better and make less of a mess if I use butters to thicken my salve.
What’s in this salve?
To make this herbal salve I use 2 ingredients.
1 oz by weight Herbal Infused oil This calendula oil is made from olive oil
1 oz by weight unrefined shea butter
I like the feeling of unrefined shea butter over white refined shea butter. The unrefined butter retains it vitamin content and has not been exposed to chemicals to alter its structure.
Also, buying traditionally made shea butter supports women’s traditional arts in West Africa making my economic contribution to their livelihood.
That’s it. That’s all that’s in it.
This combination seems to soak into my skin easily, is concentrated enough to deliver the herbal goodness in the oil and is simple enough to make to make sure I have enough salve on hand when I need it.
Making an herbal salve
Weigh out 1 oz unrefined shea butter
Add 1oz by weight of herbal oil
Place jar in microwave and nuke for 1 minute on high. Stir. If shea is not melted nuke again in 30 second increments until shea butter is melted. Stir.
Take a drop of the melted butter/oil combo and drop it on the back of your hand making sure you don’t burn yourself. Let that drop cool down. Observe how thick the drop is. If it is too stiff add a little bit of oil to the mix and test again. If it is too thin, add a bit of shea butter and nuke as needed to melt. Test by the drop until you get a consistency you prefer. Take notes of how much of each ingredient you used. I have found that with olive oil, 1:1 by weight of shea butter to oil soaks into my skin without leaving a greasy mess.
Place jar in fridge to cool rapidly. When using shea butter, rapid cooling after melting is needed to prevent the formation of steric acid crystals which make the salve feel gritty. Working in a cool environment, say under 65F, may reduce the need for the fridge.
When solid and cool, cap the jar, label the jar and use as desired.
This is just the starting point for making salves. You can experiment with using different base oils for your infused oil or different butters like cocoa butter or Kokum butter as a thickener or you could add a bit of beeswax to your butter oil combo to get the perfect feel for you.
Where to get ingredients and supplies
I have ordered from these suppliers. I am not affiliated with them in any way nor do I receive any compensation for suggesting them. They are just who I like to use.
Mountain Rose Herbal – Dried herbs for infusing
Pacific Botanicals- Fresh and dried herbs for infusing
Baraka Shea Butter-Unrefined shea butter
SKS packaging- bulk orders of jars or containers.
The information presented is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your physician or other medical professional. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider.