What Are Salves and How Can They Be Used? | Salves for Beginners

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Have you ever wondered what are salves? You may have heard the term before, or maybe you have even used one and wondered what it actually was. As a passionate herbal enthusiast and a fervent believer in the healing power of nature, I invite you to join me as we embarked on a journey into the realm of salves for beginners. Through my personal experiences and exploration, I’ve come to understand what salves are, what they are made of, their various types, and how to use and create them. In this article, I’ll share my discoveries with you, incorporating scientific research to shed light on the magic behind salves.

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What Are Salves?

To begin our journey, let’s start with the basics: What are salves? Salves are semi-solid, ointment-like substances that have been used for centuries to soothe, protect, and heal the skin. They are often made from a combination of natural ingredients, including plant-based oils, herbs, and beeswax, which work harmoniously to deliver therapeutic benefits.

What Is a Salve Made Of?

There are lots of different combination of ingredients that can be used to make a salve. However, when we speak of salves for beginners, we are talking about the core ingredients of a salve. All of the ingredients must come together in the proper ratios in order to make the right potency, texture, and consistency.

Carrier Oils

These are the base of any salve and serve as a medium to dilute essential oils and herbal extracts. Common carrier oils include olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil.


Beeswax is added to thicken the salve and give it a more solid texture. It also provides a protective barrier on the skin.

Herbs or Botanicals

Herbs, flowers, or other botanicals are chosen for their specific healing properties. These can be infused into the carrier oil to extract their beneficial compounds.

A study published in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” found that herbal salves containing ingredients like calendula, comfrey, and St. John’s Wort exhibited anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. These botanicals have been used for centuries in traditional medicine for their skin-soothing effects.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts from plants that add aroma and additional therapeutic qualities to the salve.

what is herbal salve

What Is Herbal Salve?

Herbal salves, as the name suggests, are salves enriched with medicinal herbs and plants. These herbs are carefully selected for their healing properties and can vary depending on the desired therapeutic effect. Herbal salves have gained popularity for their natural approach to skincare and their ability to address a wide range of skin issues, from bug bites, rashes, cuts and everything inbetween.

Research published in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences” highlights the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of herbal ingredients like chamomile and lavender. These properties make herbal salves a potent option for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

What Is Salve For?

Salves have a versatile range of uses, making them a valuable addition to any natural wellness toolkit. Some common applications include:

Skin Irritations

Salves can be applied to minor cuts, burns, insect bites, and rashes to soothe and promote healing.

Muscle and Joint Pain

Salves infused with herbs like arnica or cayenne can provide relief from sore muscles and joint discomfort.

Dry Skin

The moisturizing properties of salves make them effective for combating dry skin, especially in harsh weather conditions.

Lip Care

Homemade lip balms are a delightful way to keep your lips soft and nourished.

what are salves

What Are Salves Good For?

Salves have a remarkable range of benefits, thanks to their natural ingredients. The type of benefits you get from a salve are really going to depend on the ingredients added and the amounts used. However, there are some benefits gained simply from switching your toxic, over-the-counter creams and lotions for a herbal salve.


One of the most compelling reasons to incorporate salves into your skincare routine is their non-toxic nature. Unlike many commercial skincare products that often contain a laundry list of synthetic chemicals and additives, salves are a clean and pure alternative.

Skin Nourishment

Salves go beyond surface-level skincare; they nourish your skin from within, promoting long-term health and radiance. Salves are expert hydrators. They penetrate deep into the layers of your skin, offering intensive moisturization.

Holistic Healing

Beyond the physical benefits, salves often include essential oils with aromatherapeutic properties. The pleasant scents of these oils can uplift your mood, reduce stress, and promote relaxation. By applying a salve, you’re not just caring for your skin but also nurturing your overall well-being.

A study in the “Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology” revealed that plant-based oils commonly used in salves, such as coconut oil and olive oil, are rich in antioxidants and fatty acids that help repair the skin barrier and maintain skin hydration.

what is salve made of

How to Use Salves?

Using salves is simple, and they can be applied directly to the affected area. Here are some tips:

  1. Clean the Area: Before applying the salve, ensure the area is clean and dry.
  2. Apply Sparingly: A little goes a long way with salves. Start with a small amount and gently massage it into the skin.
  3. Cover if Needed: For wounds or burns, cover the area with a clean bandage after applying the salve.
  4. Repeat as Necessary: Reapply as needed, typically 2-3 times a day or as directed.

How to Make Salves?

Creating your own salves is a rewarding and empowering experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide of a general salves for beginners recipe that can be tailored to your specific needs and ingredients.



  1. Infuse the Oil: Place the dried herbs in a glass jar and cover them with the carrier oil. Seal the jar and let it sit in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks, shaking it gently every day.
  2. Strain the Oil: After the infusion period, strain the oil through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove the herbs.
  3. Melt the Beeswax: In a double boiler, melt the beeswax pellets over low heat.
  4. Combine Ingredients: Add the infused oil to the melted beeswax and stir until well combined. Remove from heat.
  5. Add Essential Oils: Stir in your chosen essential oils for fragrance and additional therapeutic benefits.
  6. Pour into Containers: Quickly pour the mixture into clean, sterilized containers (such as glass jars or tins) before it solidifies.
  7. Cool and Store: Allow the salve to cool and solidify before sealing the containers. Store them in a cool, dark place.

The use of essential oils in salves has been studied for their antimicrobial properties. A research article in the “International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents” explored the antimicrobial activity of essential oils like tea tree and eucalyptus, making them valuable additions to salves for wound care.

what is a salve used for


In my journey into the world of making salves for beginners, I’ve come to appreciate the art and science behind these natural remedies. Salves offer a holistic approach to skincare and wellness, combining the healing power of herbs, essential oils, and carrier oils.

As we’ve seen, scientific research supports the efficacy of herbal ingredients and essential oils in salves, making them a valuable addition to your self-care routine. Whether you’re looking to soothe a minor skin irritation, alleviate muscle pain, or simply nourish your skin, salves can provide a natural solution.

So, why not embark on your own salve-making journey? With a bit of knowledge and a dash of creativity, you can create personalized salves that cater to your unique needs, all while connecting with the timeless wisdom of herbal medicine. Happy salve making!

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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