Using herbal remedies to heal your ailments is a crucial aspect of living a self-sufficient lifestyle. Instead of purchasing balms premade at the store, you can use items you grow or create on your homestead to heal your body. Salves can replace store-bought creams (such as Neosporin) in your medicine cabinet.
What is a Salve?
If you have used any form of ointments, you already have a general idea about salves. They are a homemade ointment or cream, created to protect and heal our bodies and skin. Salves were used for centuries by our ancestors, great-grandparents and grandparents for cuts, burns, blisters and many other ailments. They often were called “drawing salves,” intended to draw out infections, splinters and toxins from spider or snakebites.
The process used to create herbal salves hasn’t changed much in the last few centuries, even if we do have essential oils more readily available than ever before. Old salve recipes called for herbal-infused oils. It involves simmering herbs in any melted oil for a long period before straining out the herbs.
All salves also require an element that creates the creamy consistency needed so you can spread it over the ailment. Beeswax is the most common choice, a benefit for those who have beehives. Shea butter and honey are also used in recipes. The creation of an herbal salve is easy and typically only requires a few minutes of commitment!
Let’s examine three easy salves you can make at home.
1. The perfect all-purpose salve
Everyone needs to have an all-purpose salve available at all times. I make a large batch because, with three kids, we use a lot of it! You will use coconut oil, olive oil, and beeswax to create it, but you can use more coconut oil and beeswax if you have no olive oil. It is a great choice as a homemade diaper rash cream that is cloth diaper safe.
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup beeswax
- 1/3 cup calendula flowers
- 15 drops of melaleuca essential oil
- 15 drops of lavender oil
If you have older children or are simply using this salve for yourself, you can increase a number of essential oil drops.
- Use a double boiler to melt the coconut oil and olive oil together.
- Add in the calendula flowers to the melted oils and allow to simmer for a minimum of two hours. This infuses the oil with the healing properties of the flowers. Make sure to stir during this process.
- After simmering, strain through a filter.
- Put the infused oil back into a pan and melt the beeswax.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before adding in the drops of essential oils.
- Pour or ladle the salve into glass jars. Allow to cool and harden for 24 hours. This recipe makes one cup of salve, but it is easy to increase the recipe.
2. Burn salve
Burns can happen to anyone, but if you live an off-the-grid lifestyle, you have a higher chance. It is always smart to keep a jar or two of burn salve nearby. I find that it is one of the most common salves I use, even if it’s only because I spilled morning coffee on my hand.
- ½ cup raw honey
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup aloe Vera
- 10 to 15 drops lavender essential oil
You also could add ingredients such as comfrey, which aids the healing process! This salve doesn’t require many steps. If your coconut oil is solid, melt it over a double boiler. Then, add in the raw honey and aloe Vera. Let the oils cool for 15 minutes before adding the essential oils.
3. Sore muscles salve
When you spend all day working hard, you can expect a few aches and pains. After a day of work, apply a layer of a sore muscle salve to help relax your body. I have tried some different salves, and this recipe is the most loved choice of all.
- ½ cup arnica flowers
- ½ cup comfrey leaf
- ½ cup St. John’s Wort
- 2 cups of coconut oil
- 3 ounces of beeswax
- Put the oil into a double boiler and melt over medium to low heat.
- Once melted, add the herbs and allow to infuse for 12 hours. If you don’t want to keep adding water to the pot, you can use a slow cooker on low.
- After infusion, strain the oil through a cheesecloth or filter. You could repeat the process with new herbs for extra-strength salve.
- Put the infused oil into a pot with the beeswax and slowly melt over the heat. Once melted, pour into individual glass jars and allow them to harden.
What is your favorite salve? Share your health tips in the section below: