How to Make an Herbal Salve
Step 1: First you must have the infused oil ready. (Either hot or cold method is fine, directions below.)
Step 2: On the lowest temperature possible, begin to add beeswax pellets to your heated oil. They should take awhile to melt down and disperse. Slowly add more beeswax and more beeswax until you’ve reached the consistency you prefer for your salve.
Step 3: Then pour in chosen containers and let set up and cool.
Step 4: If you want to add essential oils to your salves, add them after you’ve poured and stir with a popsicle stick or something small. (Heat can disrupt the essential oil’s purpose.)
*Did you know lipbalms are just salves in a lip container? Try it!
~Secret Tip Alert~
Salve Making Freezer Spoon Test
When you are making salves or ointments, before you get started, throw a couple spoons in the freezer, on a plate.
Use these frozen spoons to check the consistency of your salve as you add your beeswax at the melting stage! If you’ve added a few rounds of beeswax and you aren’t sure if you have the right consistency, dip a frozen spoon in, put it back in the freezer. Wait a few moments, and check it. Is it smooth enough? Is it thick enough?
Make the necessary adjustments and test, again. Remember, there is no right or wrong. If it turns out a little too hard, you can reheat and add more oil. Remember to jot down some notes so you know what you prefer best! (This is the best part of making your own medicine!)
Cold Oil Infusion Method
A cold infused oil is simply a carrier oil with plant material in it. The oil extracts the properties of the plant over time, without heat. This is a common method for topical herbal massage oils, the beginning of some salves, and some cooking oils (like flavored olive oils).
The method is simple. You place your herbs in a clean container or jar, pour oil over them, and let them sit for a minimum of 2 weeks out of light.
Always used dried plant material for herbal oils. Fresh plant material contains water, and will cause your oil to mold in a short amount of time. So if you choose to use fresh plant material, know that your oil has a quick expiration date.
Great carrier oil choices: Grapeseed, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Emu Oil, and just about any other oil that has a stable shelf life.
*Please refrain from using olive oil if you plan on making a salve. Olive oil is not a good solvent when heat is applied. The oil will break down and your herbal remedy will not be nearly as effective.
Warm Oil Infusion Method
A hot infused oil is plant material used in oil, but a low heat is used. This is a common practice for salve making or when you want a specialized cooking oil, like garlic coconut oil for sautéing.
Keep the temperature very low. Many herbalist use a double boiler. I personally do not go to that trouble. I use vision ware (glass pots) on the lowest setting possible. (You may want to use a hot plate with controls if you have gas only to control the heat, or use the double boiler method.)
Do NOT fry your plant material.
Some have successfully used a crock pot. I’ve tried it, but all of my crock pots are run too hot for the proper temp control. I always end up with fried herbs. (YUK)
And if you do fry your plant material… just laugh. It happens to the best of us. Start over. I dare you to take a picture and brag about your herb fry below! Haha.
Carrier Oils for Warm Infusions: I personally only use either coconut or avocado oil. Both oils are stable under heat and can retain the medicinal properties of the plants.
Learn more about herbs?