Herbal Healing Salve Recipe + DIY Instructions
How to make a herbal healing salve that you can use to help heal minor burns and skin conditions. You begin by first making calendula, plantain, and comfrey infused oils. Afterward, you blend them with beeswax into a thick salve that helps cleanse, nourish, heal, and protect.
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The thing I love about this recipe is that it’s a simple herbal salve that most anyone can make and use. It’s simple and natural and actually pretty fun to make too. On top of that, it lasts a long time and comes in pretty handy. No matter how careful we are, there’s no escaping the occasional nettle rash, insect bite, bruise, sprain, or scrape. This handmade herbal healing salve will help cleanse and heal those mishaps and do it just as effectively as anything from the pharmacy.
Making this salve takes no time at all, once you have the ingredients prepared. The last time I made it took about thirty minutes from start to finish, including cleaning up afterward. The preparation involved beforehand involves making herbal-infused oils, which I’ll take you through as well. You’ll make three for this recipe — calendula, plantain, and comfrey infused oils.
Making Herbal Healing Salve
The salve includes sweet almond oil for its lightness and skin conditioning properties. It also contains beeswax to firm it up but also to leave a protective layer on your skin. Together with the herbal extracts the finished salve soothes, heals, relieves pain and itching, and is basically an all-purpose skin ointment. It’s something for everyone but judging by my own bruises and bumps, gardeners can really benefit from it.
Before we get to the recipe let’s first have a look at the skincare herbs. Extracting their natural healing compounds is relatively easy but it’s something that needs to be done before moving on to the salve instructions.
Using Herbs from the Garden
Just as in some food recipes, herbs need infusing into another liquid before they can be used in salves. In the case of this recipe, you begin by cold-infusing dried calendula, plantain, and comfrey in sweet almond oil. It’s a step that takes a few weeks but is one of the most wonderful parts of making this salve.
You begin by picking the flowers and leaves fresh from the garden, drying them, and then immersing them in sweet almond oil. Fill a jar 2/3 full of dried plant material and then cover it with oil. Leave in a warm place, but out of direct sunlight. Giving it a shake every now and again helps the infusion process too. At the end of 3-6 weeks, you strain it and have golden oils loaded with skin healing properties.
Calendula for Skin
Many of us will already have calendula (calendula officinalis) growing in the garden. It’s a cheerful edible flower with generally yellow to orange flowers. The more orange the flower is, the more skin-therapeutic the petals are for your skin though. If you’re growing from seed, choose a variety like Indian Prince or better yet, a medicinal cultivar like Resina or Erfurter Orangefarbige. I include MUCH more information on growing, harvesting, and using calendula in skincare in this ebook. I’ve also shared three ways to make calendula oil in another piece.
The natural plant chemicals in calendula cleanse the skin, reduce pain and inflammation, and speed up healing. In one study calendula was shown to speed healing by nearly 50% within the first eight days of treatment. The way it works is that calendula contains natural plant chemicals, including triterpenoids, which are anti-inflammatory, and saponins, micronutrients, flavonoids, and polysaccharides that aid in skin healing. On top of that, calendula also kills pathogens in skin wounds and stimulates the immune system. Learn more about calendula and skincare.
Plantain for Skin
Plantain is likely already growing in your garden or nearby. I have some that self-seeded into a wilder part of my allotment and I’ve spotted it all over our site. Both ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) and common plantain (Plantago major) are considered weeds, but they’re weeds with superpowers.
As in the case with calendula, plantain has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce swelling and redness. It also soothes rashes, reduces itching, and eases the reaction of bites and stings. It’s a healing plant that has been used in folk medicine since time immemorial. References to its use as a skin healer include Costard the clown calling out for plantain after injuring his skin in William Shakespeare’s Love Labour Lost. It’s also listed in the original herbal handbook, Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, published in the 17th century
Plantain…The same also with the juice of Houseleek is profitable against all inflammations and breakings out of the skin, and against burnings and scaldings by fire and water.
Comfrey for Skin
Comfrey is a controversial herb. Many gardeners have it growing somewhere and it’s used to make nitrogen and potassium-rich plant food. However, it also has a long history of being used in herbal medicine, both internally and externally. Recent studies have shown that when taken internally, especially in high doses and/or long periods, it can cause liver damage. This has made some feel uncomfortable about using it.
Although you should avoid using comfrey root, rich in the pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are so troublesome, the leaf is safe to use on the skin. Not only that but it’s a powerful wound healer thanks to its allantoin, saponins, polysaccharides, and other natural plant chemicals. It’s on par with calendula on that front but also has the ability to treat bruises, sprains, pulled muscles, and other musculature and tissue damage. Here’s how to make comfrey oil for use in this recipe.
Herbal Healing Salve
- Two stainless steel pans, one being smaller than the other (or a double boiler)
- Clean, dry, and sterilized containers. Can be tins or glass jars
Herbal Hand Salve Recipe
- 75 g Calendula-infused Sweet almond oil 1/3 cup
- 75 g Plantain-infused Sweet almond oil 1/3 cup
- 75 g Comfrey-infused Sweet almond oil 1/3 cup
- 28 g Beeswax 1 oz
- 1/2 tsp Rose Geranium essential oil optional
Make the Infused oils
- Begin making the three infused oils needed for this recipe at least four weeks before making the salve. If you're using homegrown, ensure that it was harvested in its peak, and is now fully dried out. If there's any moisture in the herbs, it can impact the shelf-life of your salve. You will need enough dried calendula flowers, plantain leaves, and comfrey leaves, to fill a pint jar two-thirds full.
- Once your herbs are in the jars, pour sweet almond oil over them and to within a quarter-inch of the top. Seal the jars, shake them, and place them in a warm place out of direct sunlight. If you'd like to put them in a window sill, make sure they're in a paper bag to protect the oil from UV light.
- Give the jars a shake daily, and after three to six weeks, strain the oil from the plant material using a cheesecloth. Discard the plant material and pour the oils into their own new, sterilized jars. The infused oil has a shelf-life of one year or the best-by date of the oil you used. Whichever is soonest. Store in a dim place at room temperature.
Make the Herbal Healing Salve
- Fill the larger of your pans with water and bring to a boil.
- Measure the beeswax in the smaller pan and float it inside the pan of boiling water. This evenly distributes the heat and is important since beeswax should never be melted over direct heat.
- When the beeswax is melted, pour in the herb-infused oils. Stir with the spatula until the oils are just melted. Take the pan off the hot water and set it on a cloth or potholder.
- Stir in the essential oil (optional) and pour into tins or containers and allow to cool*. It will take around four hours to come to room temperature. During this time, don't cover the containers as it can cause condensation on the inner part of the lid. Put lids on after the balms are completely cooled.
- You can use the salve immediately. As for shelf-life, it can be up to one year or the closest best-by date of the ingredients you used. Check for these on the back of all your bottles and remember that fresh oil is always best when cooking or making beauty products.
Using Herbal Healing Salve
This is a herbal healing salve good for the occasional bumps, burns, rashes, and bruises. The herbs in this salve not only come from the garden but are good for healing gardeners’ hands too! Dry skin and nails, tiny cuts and scrapes, and softening rough patches and calluses. It’s completely oil-based so needs no preservatives and rubs in rather nicely. After a few minutes, your fingers won’t feel greasy but soft and conditioned. The rose geranium essential oil gives it a beautiful scent too.
Although all the herbs in this recipe are considered safe, you should speak with a physician if you have any concerns. Avoid applying the salve on deep cuts or wounds, instead of smoothing it around the injured areas. It’s very light
Use this healing salve as and when required. You can also gift your extra pots to friends if you can part with them. They’ll love how it works but also that it came handmade from you and potentially your garden.
If you enjoyed this recipe, make sure to check out these skincare recipes and see more ideas for calendula and other herbs.
 Wound healing activity of flower extract of Calendula officinalis. National Center for Biotechnology Information, Preethi KC, Kuttan R.
 Calendula officinalis and Wound Healing: A Systematic Review. Wound Research Journal, Matthew J Leach, August 2008
 Plantain’s full herbal properties described and cited on Wikipedia
The Project Gutenberg e-book of The Complete Herbal, by Nicholas Culpeper, Release Date: July 24, 2015 [EBook #49513]
 Comfrey: A Clinical Overview, National Center for Biotechnology Information, Christiane Staiger
 COMFREY (Symphytum officinale): A healer of wounds, bruises and bones, Steph Zabel, August 2016, Cambridge Naturals
Is there anything that can be done with the leftover calendula pulp after you’ve strained all the oil out of it? It seems a shame to waste it! I’m curious if it can be used in a soap or scrub. Thank you for the salve recipe!
Hi Rachel, yes, you could use some of it to mix into salt scrubs or soap recipes such as this calendula soap recipe. But because the petals are saturated in oil and have lost much of their goodness, there are, unfortunately, few uses for them. You can compost them though and that’s not a waste at all :)
Love the Calendula Salve. Also have you ever used powdered Calendula? Instead of doing the infused process, simply warm up the almond oil and use Calendula in powdered form and put it into the warmed Almond Oil, then add the other ingredients. I haven’t done this yet but wanted to get your opinion first. Do you think this product would be as effective? Thank you.
Hi Linda, calendula-infused oil will be much more effective in this salve recipe. Whole flowers may contain healing compounds, but for them to work, the compounds have to reach your skin. Powdered material will likely rub or fall off your skin before it has a chance to work. You can use dried and powdered calendula flowers in poultices, but you’d wrap the area with a cloth or a bandage to hold it in place. For salves, macerate dried and/or powdered herbs in a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil) to extract the beneficial properties. Using the oil to make salves makes it a lot easier for those beneficial compounds to penetrate your skin.
Can i add Shea butter (contains a lot of vitamins)
And black assam tea (it’s great for skin)
Also which the amount should i put if i can..
Thank u for this great content!
Hi Raghad, shea butter is solid at room temperature, making it difficult to infuse herbs into. So it wouldn’t be a good fit for this recipe, but you could make a less herbal salve by using this recipe as a base. Infuse one or all three of the herbs in the liquid oil and make without the essential oil. Tea is not a good ingredient for salves in either its liquid or dry form. Liquid ingredients are not used in making salves. The dried plant material would likely stain your skin if you infused it and make the oil into a salve.
Try to use some lecithin powder (1 teaspon) in the receipt. This will make the balsam less oily.
Could I use just Calendula oil in this recipe? My grandson has bad eczema & I want to try it on him. I’m excited to try this.
Hi Pam and yes, you could just use calendula-infused oil to make this recipe :)
Can I use grape seed oil or walnut spectrum oil? Are there any other wild growing plants you suggest? Thank you
Hi Christina, and yes, you could use other oils and other herbs to make salves, but then it wouldn’t be this exact recipe. Every change in ingredient can change the final product :)
Hi Tanya, I bet you have better things to do right now, with the big move coming up and everything, but I noticed a few of the links in these recipes don’t work. For example the emulsifying wax here, and in another recipe the beeswax link was not working. It’s not a huge deal but I was trying to use the links to see what the ingredients look like so I can find them locally.
Thanks, Esther, but there’s no emulsifying wax in this recipe? I’d be so pleased if you would send me PM if you find any specific ones that aren’t working though? Thank you so much! ?
I purchased some calendula oil recently, but I’m not sure how to use it or how much to use, for example, I wold like to use it in your salve recipe instead of making my own calendula oil. Any pointers? Thanks
Calendula oil is simply a carrier oil that’s been infused with calendula flowers. Sometimes it’s sweet almond oil, but most often it’s sunflower. Use your ingredient in the same amount as the Calendula-infused sweet almond oil component in this recipe :)
10% beeswax makes for a lovely, light salve that is spreadable and moisturising. It is a wonderful idea to incorporate these healing herbs together to make a comforting balm. Pleaes note I am a beekeeper and plantain balm is the one product I have found that helps to take the sting out of bites and to reduce the swelling when applied externally.
Thinking to make multi purpose balm/salve/butter and I was wondering if I should use this recipe or you body butter recipe? For instance a nappy are a m, fix bites, cuts, stings, boo boos etc.
Would any be to greezy or melt/harden to easily? Thanks :)
It’s up to you :)
If I’m making this salve for men, what essential oil can I use for them that won’t smell as ‘girly’ as rose geranium? I am not knowledgeable about the healing properties of various essential oils (if any), so I really have no idea what to choose that might be beneficial and at the same time not make the men in my life feel like they are wearing grandma’s perfume. Any suggestions?
You can leave the fragrance out completely if you wish. Otherwise, ask the man what fragrance he likes and work out how much of that is safe for leave-on skincare products :)
Have you tried to use less wax? it maybe your climate vs. hers if she is in a warm climate it may be softer. I would use less wax or no wax and a stronger butter like cocoa butter.
Great post, but I am having trouble with the term salve. Your photo of the finished product appears to show a hard balm, yet the photo of the finished product on your finger looks like a salve. I have tried the 1:8 ratio and all I get is a hard balm…good slip, but I would have to scoop with my nail to get a chunk out. Is yours hard and if so, why is it called a ‘salve’ vs a balm. I just cannot seem to get the softer consistency even by increasing the oil. Would appreciate your help! Thanks for all you do!
Hi Lumen, salves are oil-based medicinal skincare whereas balms are mainly for conditioning the skin/lips. The consistency will vary based on the oils and oil ratio used. If you wanted to make your batch a little softer, use less beeswax.
Shall I ad more beeswax if I wanna make this a roll on salve?
What do you mean, a ‘roll on salve’?
Hi, unfortunately I dont have any facility to grow anything, and even if I grow in pots it would take take a lot of space which I dont have, I’ve been looking at ordering everything in the dry version, will this be ok or are there some that need to be a fresh version of the plants?
Dried leaf and flower material is perfectly fine to use to make this recipe.
Do you think this would be good for fungal skin infection?
Thank you for sharing. ???
I’m totally new at all this. Our land is extremely tough to grow flowers, hard Rock an clay & 360 degrees of boiling sun. Trees I’ve had were storm damaged or my cow ate them! So, I want to make this salve so where can I get these types flowers? We have 1 nursery in our town & whenever I ask for anything they look at me like I have 2 heads, literally! Any suggestions?
A really great salve for joint pain is made from dandelion greens if you have those. You’d be surprised what u can find in your own yard.
I can’t wait to make this. Out of curiosity is there another oil other than almond that can be used?
Sweet almond oil is my favourite for all skin types. You can use others though including grapeseed, cold-pressed sunflower, apricot kernel, or even olive oil. Olive oil has more of an odor than the others so be wary of using it unless you can handle smelling like it.