Last week, within the span of one day, three of my kids needed a Band-Aid for some reason. With six kids who like to climb, jump, and live in their treehouse, this is a common occurrence. I decided to find a natural salve option to use instead of conventional ones like Neosporin.
How to Use a Healing Salve
I’m not a fan of Neosporin because it’s made with petroleum jelly. Plus there are plenty of natural options that work just as well.
My homemade healing salve (or “boo-boo lotion”, according to the kids) is helpful on cuts, bruises, stings, poison ivy, and skin irritations. It also helps with diaper rash and baby skin irritations. For cloth diapers be sure to line them with a disposable liner first.
This herbal healing salve is also great for eczema, scrapes, abrasions, and insect bites. And it’s moisturizing to dry skin and cuticles. If there’s a problem and it’s with your skin, this healing salve is likely to help.
Healing Salve Herbs
So how can one salve do so much? The healing herbs here are naturally antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and astringent. This makes it perfect for any herbalist’s first aid kit.
- Echinacea – Antimicrobial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory. Can help prevent infection from venomous snakes and insects from spreading. Good for burns. At risk in the wild so choose cultivated sources (or grow your own!).
- Comfrey – Nicknamed bone-knit for its ability to heal broken bones so quickly. Stimulates tissue repair for fast healing. Used for sprains, swelling, and bruises, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic.
- Plantain – Dubbed “Indian Band-Aid” by the Cherokee. Good for bites, stings, cuts, and scrapes, poison ivy, and sunburn. A plantain poultice helps draw out splinters and stingers. Stimulates collagen growth for faster wound healing.
- Calendula – Anti-inflammatory, astringent (tightens loose tissues), antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. Used for cuts, burns, diaper rash, bites, sprains, bruises, rashes, sunburns, abrasions, and slow-healing wounds.
- Yarrow – Helps restore stagnant or congested blood flow while also helping staunch bleeding. A vulnerary, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and relieves pain.
- Rosemary – Antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal. Shows positive results against drug-resistant infections. Stimulates blood flow to the area, and eases muscle pain and inflamed joints. Also good for sores, bruises, wounds, eczema, and sprains.
Note on Comfrey
Because comfrey can heal skin so quickly it’s important to use it along with other herbs. You don’t want the skin to heal so fast that it seals infection in. By using antimicrobial herbs like rosemary and echinacea it helps prevent this issue.
You can also add some lavender essential oil or tea tree oil for extra skin benefits. Lavender is a natural antihistamine so it’s great for soothing itchy skin and bites. Tea tree is a potent anti-fungal and it also offers some soothing itch relief. You can use any skin-friendly blend of essential oils you prefer in this. Frankincense, chamomile, and helichrysum are some more options.
It’s easy to make and some of the ingredients even grow in your front yard during the summer One of the herbs I use is Plantain, which grows in most of the US and is great for the skin. You may also be able to find yarrow growing wild in your area. All of the above herbs are useful for lots of things and some can also be used internally or in food.
Almost any liquid oil will work in this recipe but I usually use olive oil. If you use coconut oil you may want to reduce the beeswax some or it can get too hard in cooler temperatures. Sunflower oil, almond oil, and grapeseed oil are more options.
Choosing Your Container
Salve goes well in metal tins or in a glass jar. I prefer the tins for easy travel and I don’t have to worry about a glass jar breaking. Lip balm tubes are another great option. These make it really portable and easy to apply.
Healing Salve Recipe
- 2 cups olive oil (or coconut oil)
- 2 tsp echinacea root (optional)
- 1 TBSP comfrey leaf
- 2 TBSP dried plantain leaf
- 1 TBSP calendula flowers
- 2 tsp yarrow flowers
- 1 tsp rosemary
- ¼ cup beeswax pellets
- 1 tsp vitamin E oil (optional)
- 20-40 drops essential oils (optional, lavender and tea tree are good options)
Infuse the Herbs
- Combine the olive oil and herbs in a jar with an airtight lid and leave for 3-4 weeks, shaking daily. This option doesn’t work well with coconut oil.
- OR heat the olive oil (or other oil) and herbs over low heat in a double boiler for 3 hours (low heat!) until the oil is very green.
- Another option is to put the herbs and oil in mason jars with lids. Place in a water bath in a crockpot set to low and let this infuse for at least 24 hours. Refill the water in the slow cooker as needed.
Make the Salve
- Pour the oil through a cheesecloth and strain out the herbs. Squeeze the cheesecloth to get as much oil out as possible.
- Compost the herbs.
- Combine the infused oil and beeswax in a double boiler.
- Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the wax is melted.
- Add essential oils if desired.
- Pour into small tins, glass jars, or lip balm tubes and use as needed.
Storage and Shelf Life
This healing salve lasts for a year or more when stored properly, so I make it in big batches. However, you can reduce the size if needed. I always keep this on hand when I’m gardening for skin irritations and bug bites. Be sure to store it in a cool, dry place away from light and heat.
Adding some Vitamin E helps extend the shelf-life and keeps the oils from going rancid as quickly.
Ever made your own salves? Share below!
Discussion (291 Comments)
I have sensitive skin that’s normally itchy all over, all the time. Drs haven’t been able to figure out the cause and I’m taking allergy meds am and pm. I would love to use this as an all-over body cream/butter. What modifications should I make for that?
It can be used as is or you could add more liquid oil like olive oil to thin it more.
Theives is an esstential oil that fights mold. Can put in difuser for getting mold out of room air. And fir cleaning. Great stuff!!
I have hand dermatites (spelling) how do I get rid of it? The Dr said I will always have it but symtoms may go away. Help
Try switching to handmade soap. You can make your own using lye & oils, there are plenty of recipes online. I like 30% coconut oil, 70% olive oil soap with a 7% superfat. Handmade soap naturally contains glycerin which helps to keep your skin moisturized. If you’re worried about the lye, don’t be – it reacts with the oil and forms soap, there is no leftover lye. Just soap! All soap is made this way, but store-bought soaps have no glycerin – it is removed and sold to pharmacies.
Just be very, very exact with the quantities and be sure to let the soap cure for a few weeks before you use it. This will get rid of any excess lye. Alkali is nothing to be trifled with, and an excessively basic soap will do your hands no favour. That said, I made the switch to homemade soap a while back due to allergies and sensitivities at home and I’m not going back. 🙂 Here is the recipe I use: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGfXLznJJY0
Hi! LOVE your blog 😀 Question about this salve-I don’t have any comfrey but have an infused oil I bought from Mountain Rose, so I think that would work, how much should I add?
Thanks and keep up the good work!!
About 1/2 tsp
I grow all these herbs….but it dosen’t say if they are fresh or dried…I am assuming dried since most people would not have them fresh???
Yes, dried is best
When do you add the Vitamin E?
Is it OK to use coconut oil instead?
I did and it’s great!
Intriguing! I wonder…I have psoriasis. I wonder if this would help to heal it?
Yes! Try adding a few drops of carrot seed oil and German chamomile oil to it. Both of those oils are reputed to be great for eczema.
I made this and it smells and feels wonderful. I decided to pour the mixture into these cute 1 oz push up tubes. The only problem is when I went to sample pushing one up the whole mixture fell out. It was very very soft. I live in Florida and it’s extremely hot and humid here and I store them in an un air-conditioned area. Is it possible to add more beeswax so this is a tad more solid and not as soft more like a balm texture?
Yep… you can definitely remelt and add more to thicken it up…
Your formula is almost exactly like mine. I add Lavendar and Teatree Essential oil after I strain. I also use a crockpot on low to make mine. Much easier for me. I don’t have to worry about checking the water. And I leave the lid off, so it doesn’t get too hot. Thanks for your site and keep the recipes coming!!!
I am going to make mine in a crockpot! Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to try it!
Do you have a crock pot just for remedies? Or do you use the same one for remedies and cooking? I’m wondering if it would get smells and tastes stuck in it that would get into food.
I would just use it as a double boiler, same as on the stove. Put your jar filled with oils and herbs into the crockpot and add water around it, and you will have to keep adding water throughout the day. At night about an hour before I go to bed, I turn it on high. Then turn it onto warm, and put the lid on to help retain heat while I am sleeping. The lid doesn’t fit exactly because I use a quart canning jar, but in my own mind I think that helps even a little bit, to retain the heat.
How often can I use this on a “boo boo”?
We do at our house…
how many times a day would you use this salve on a boo boo?
3-4 or as much is needed…