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    7 Homemade Healing Salves a Century Ago

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    7 Homemade Healing Salve Recipes

    Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before using any of the herbs and/or remedies mentioned in this article.

    What did our ancestors use when they had wounds and sore muscles? I can tell you what they didn’t do; they didn’t run to Walmart and purchase an antibiotic ointment or a sore muscle rub. Instead, our ancestors understood how to use herbs and other ingredients to create healing salves for what ailed them.

    Intrigued? I was, too! Learning how to heal your injuries with herbs and other items is a fundamental skill for any homesteader or prepper. So, let’s dive into what you need to know about healing salves.

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    What is a Salve?

    A salve is simply anything that you apply topically to heal the skin. Balms, ointments, and creams all qualify as salves. Most salves involve the use of waxes and oils to create a semi-solid texture that makes them shelf-stable and thick.

    The ingredients used in a salve can be changed to serve many functions. Most are multi-purpose, but you can tailor them to your particular ailment by adding essential oils, infused oils, or tinctures to the mixture. A salve can heal many issues, such as:

    • Dry Skin
    • Diaper Rash
    • Chapped Lips
    • Sore Muscles
    • Wound Healing
    • Minor Burns, Cuts, and Scrapes
    • Eczema

    Ingredients Needed to Create a Salve

    To create a salve, you need oils. Each type of oil has its own properties that make it a unique choice! Some popular picks include:

    Beeswax Cutting Board

    After you pick the oil (or oils), you need beeswax to bind everything together. If you don’t have beeswax, candelilla and carnauba are other suitable picks. Beeswax tends to be the easiest to find and easiest to prepare, but you do have options.

    What You Need to Make a Salve

    So you picked your oils and beeswax. Now you have to get the rest of the materials necessary to create a salve. I promise it’s not complicated! To make a salve, you need these other materials:

    • Equal parts dried herbs
    • Cheesecloth
    • Jars or containers for storage
    • Pot
    • Heat safe bowl
    • Essential Oils

    Steps to Create a Salve

    The steps to create a salve are usually the same no matter the recipe you are creating. The only differences will be if you use essential oils or not and which dried herbs you pick to use. So once you make one, you can make a dozen more. They truly are simple! Let’s take a look at each step…

    Make an Herbal Infusion

    The first thing you want to do is create an herbal infusion, which is best done with the double boiler method. I’ve tried it in a single pot, and I burned the herbs. Learn from my mistake!

    1. Put your herbs and oil in a small pot or container over a large pot of water that is 1/4 full. You want to put all of the herbs used in the recipe into the oil. That might be 1-6 different dried herbs. A glass measuring cup or a glass bowl will work.
    2. Bring that water to a boil, then turn the stove down to a simmer.
    3. Now let the herbs and oil infuse together for 30 to 60 minutes. (Another option is to do the slow method, but that takes weeks.)
    4. Once it’s done, remove it from the heat and set aside.
    Olive Oil and Herbs

    The other option is called solar infusion. With this method, you put the herbs and oil into a sealed Mason jar and place the jar in a sunny area for 4 to 6 weeks.

    Strain the Infused Oil

    Now that your oil is ready, you need to strain out the herbs.

    1. Put two to three layers of cheesecloth over a funnel or bowl.
    2. Pour the infused oil over the cheesecloth which will strain the oil and herbs.
    3. Once you've poured everything into the cheesecloth, gather it up and squeeze out the remaining oils.

    Prepare the Salve

    The next step is to place the beeswax in a pan over low heat.

    1. Add the infused oil and melt together. Let these two ingredients combine well.
    2. Once mixed, remove the pan from the heat. Your salve is almost finished!

    Add Essential Oils or Other Ingredients

    If you decide to add essential oils, you should add them after you remove the oil and wax mixture from the heat. It is also the best time to add stuff like clay or activated charcoal.

    Jar and Store

    The last thing you want to do is put the salve into the jars you selected. You can determine the solidification of the salve by placing some into your refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

    If you use more beeswax, it creates a harder salve. Less beeswax creates a creamy salve. All you have to do is pour the salve into the jar or jars you selected and allow them to cool before lidding and storing! Now let's take a look at five specific recipes…

    1. Aches and Pains Salve Recipe

    Whether you are lifting weights or lifting bags of garden soil, everyone needs a salve in their medicine cabinet for those sore muscles. The cayenne pepper in this recipe gives the salve the bit of heat required to heat up your muscles and give them the desired relief.


    • 1 cup oil (coconut oil or olive oil are two popular picks)
    • 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
    • 1 TBSP cayenne pepper powder
    • 1 TBSP ginger root powder
    • 1 TBSP turmeric powder
    • 1 TBSP arnica flowers

    2. Summer Salve Recipe

    Summertime might be one of the best seasons, but it brings with it bug bites, stings, and poison ivy. Who likes those? This summer salve solves all of those problems, and you can use it on scrapes and cuts. The recipe makes around 1.5 cups, but it’s worth doubling (or tripling) to have a stockpile!


    • 2 cups oil (your choice – olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil work great)
    • 2 TBSP dried plantain leaf
    • 2 TBSP dried comfrey leaf
    • 2 TBSP dried burdock root
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup beeswax pellets
    • 20 drops lavender oil – optional

    3. Boo-Boo Salve

    I stopped purchasing neospirin years ago. I prefer not to use anything petroleum based. This “boo-boo” salve helps heal cuts, bruises, stings, skin irritations, and poison ivy. You can use it on diaper rashes as well, but make sure you don’t use it on cloth diapers.


    • 2 cups olive oil or almond oil
    • 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
    • 2 TBSP dried comfrey leaf
    • 2 TBSP dried plantain leaf
    • 1 TSP dried calendula flowers
    • 1 TSP dried yarrow flowers
    • 1 TSP dried rosemary leaves

    4. Stretch Marks Salve

    Pregnant mamas, I got you! As a mother of four kids myself, I know the reality. Our tummies tend to look like Freddy Krueger took a few slashes. The stripes are real! This stretch marks salve is pregnancy safe; nothing here is going to harm your sweet baby.


    • 1/4 cup shea butter
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil
    • 3 TBSP apricot kernel oil
    • 1 TBSP calendula flowers
    • 1/4 TSP dried ginger root

    You can add any pregnancy safe essential oils that you want, but they aren’t necessary.

    5. Black Drawing Salve

    My last salve to offer you is a black drawing salve. Never heard of it? You’re missing out. It “draws” out things such as splinters or pieces of glass from your skin and helps to prevent infections. It also can help remove moles and skin tags.


    • 3 TBSP Infused Olive Oil (infuse with comfrey, calendula, and plantain)
    • 2 TSP Shea Butter
    • 2 TBSP coconut oil
    • 2 TBSP Beeswax
    • 2 TBSP Activated Charcoal Powder
    • 2 TBSP Kaolin Clay
    • 1 TBSP Honey
    • 25+ Drops Lavender or Chamomile Essential oil

    6. Respiratory Relief Salve

    This salve is great for easing respiratory discomfort from colds, allergies, or sinus issues. Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils help clear nasal passages and soothe coughs.


    • 1 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
    • 1 TBSP dried eucalyptus leaves
    • 1 TBSP dried peppermint leaves
    • 15 drops eucalyptus essential oil
    • 10 drops peppermint essential oil

    7. Anti-Fungal Foot Salve

    Perfect for athletes or anyone suffering from fungal infections on their feet, this salve uses the natural antifungal properties of tea tree oil and neem oil to treat and prevent infections.


    • 1 cup coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
    • 2 TBSP neem oil
    • 15 drops tea tree essential oil
    • 10 drops lavender essential oil

    Bonus Salve: Skin Healing Salve

    This is more of an all-purpose salve for any type of skin irritation. If you have any wounds or dry skin, this calendula skin healing salve will solve the problem.


    • 4 ounces calendula infused oil
    • 2 TBSP packed, grated beeswax
    • 25 to 50 drops essential oils (chamomile, lavender, and frankincense are good options)

    Making Healing Salves at Home

    I promise, making healing salves at home isn’t difficult. The process is the same for each recipe. You have to create an infused oil with dried herbs . Some people like to have several infused oils brewing at one time on windowsills, while others like to do the faster method.

    The best thing about making salves at home is the ability to tailor it to what you want and your ailments. You can change the essential oils (or not add any), or try a new herb you like. The options are endless, so get to cooking.

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      9 thoughts on “7 Homemade Healing Salves a Century Ago”

      1. If I can’t grow it I won’t bother. If I have to buy expensive oils I will just buy it over tTimothyhe counter.

      2. My fiance’s grandma came from Poland. She had a black healing salve she brought with her, that he swears healed up minor scratches or wounds really fast, practically overnight.
        The family kept the tin of salve for many years, until someone threw it out. The label on the tin was worn off, it may have been up to 100 years old?
        He says it was very very dark brown, almost black, very thick, & smelled like charcoal & “an old corkboard.”

        I’ve tried looking up old healing recipes from Poland but can’t find anything.

        What ingredients do you think this MAY have contained?

        I’m thinking charcoal
        Plantain / other herbs
        Oil or grease of some kind?


      3. That sounds like some stuff my mom used to whip up with phels napa soap and my dad used to sell watkins products that had a cream like that. Best damn stuff ever made!

      4. I just use plain old bag bomb i get it at the feed store. It works wonders on infections and serious cuts. No problem on a rash. I have been using it for 52 years

      5. Is there a place to purchase some of the dried herbs needed for the salves? Also, do you prefer olive or coconut oil when making them?
        Thanks for the great article!


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