Saturday, July 21, 2012

Basic salve

I thought I would share my basic "how to" for salve making. Today I made a "bug bite" salve. With the insane mosquitoes this year, I know we'll need it.

To begin, I started this more than a month ago. Five and a half weeks, to be exact (er. close to exact, anyway). I filled a pint canning jar halfway with my dried herbs (full if you're using fresh - but then there's a moisture issue and I prefer not to mess with that) and then cover (to fill the jar) with the oil(s) of your choice. I used an herb mix that I bought from The Bulk Herb Store. It has rosemary, olive leaf, plantain, echinacea, comfrey, and lavender. Normally I'd have added calendula at the very least, but I wanted to give the mix a try before I adjust it. I used grapeseed oil and olive oil. Both organic. I only mixed them because I ran out of grapeseed.

Here's my infused oil. Some people heat the oil to infuse it - this takes less time. Some people leave it in the sun. There are a lot of methods. Generally I combine the herbs and oil and leave it in a dark place for six weeks. I do my best to remember to shake it every day.

Strain the oil from your jar. It helps to use cheesecloth or muslin to get the extra gunk out. Since this is just for us, I tend not to be too picky.

In a pot of water, place a jar with your beeswax. Slowly heat to melt the wax. I'm sure there's a formula for how much wax to oil you should use. But I much prefer to wing it.

Lovely melted wax. Mmmm.

In another container I poured some of my infused oil and set it in the hot water to warm. Pour in some wax and stir to combine. If you're adding extras, now is the time to do it. I usually add a tiny bit of vitamin E oil. Sometimes I add shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, etc. I didn't this time. Again, I wanted to give the herbal mix a try before I tinkered.

To test the consistency of your salve, put a few drops on a tin (or spoon) and stick it in the freezer for less than a minute. I generally stick it in the freezer, put away some of my mess and then check it. If it smooshes (this is a technical term, I promise) the way you like, great! If it's too soft, add wax. Too hard, add more oil (even not infused oil will do). Remember, though, *gently* heat the oils. You aren't cooking them.

Once you're happy with the consistency, pour it into a container. New tins, clean old tins, glass jars. I've used all three.

Leave it totally undisturbed until it has cooled (mine isn't quite cooled in the middle in this picture, but you get the idea). Praise yourself and enjoy your lovely new salve!


  1. Thanks for this Melissa. I have a house full of people coming tomorrow for a surprise party, but on Monday I will be in the herb bed collecting everything so I can make my own salve. Want to share your toothpaste recipe too? Right now we use Tom's, but I would love to make my own.
    Love seeing all the pretty yarn below, you really are rockin' the creativity

  2. Hi Melissa, thank you so much for this! When we have summer here there are always so many mosquitos around outside, they love to bite our ankles. This salve will help tremendously!
    Have a lovely Sunday.