by Lauren Sofia
Salves are the perfect introduction into the wonderful world of plant medicine. They’re also really easy to make!
Salves are versatile and fun and they leave a lot of room for experimentation. There is a wide and un-ending range of herbs and essential oils that can target your salve toward different skin conditions, whether it be inflammation and muscle soreness, dryness, bug bites and stings, or burns.
Some of my favorite herbs to include in my salves are Cayenne, St. John’s Wort, and Lobelia to help support healthy inflammation levels and combat muscle soreness. The Cayenne creates a warming sensation on the skin and mixed with the appropriate essential oils can make a sort of “icy/hot” rub. Herbs like Plantain, Comfrey, and Calendula are excellent in a drawing/healing salve for any sort of skin condition, like rashes. These all have a strong vulnerary action, which means it promotes healing of the skin.
Some of my favorite essential oils to use in my salves are Sweet Birch, Marjoram, Rosemary, Ginger, Peppermint, and Clove. Marjoram is a strong analgesic and Rosemary, Ginger, and Clove are very warming which is excellent for sore muscles. Sweet Birch has a similar cooling action as Wintergreen, but it is not endangered like Wintergreen is and works just as well.
There is also a wide range of fixed oils to experiment with ranging from olive, almond, coconut or castor. Olive is the most popular. Coconut oil is easy to infuse with herbs on the stove top, whereas the other oils are more delicate and should not be heated. And of course, don’t forget the beeswax! Finding a local bee keeper to supply your wax is best, or just be sure your sources are clean and reputable.
To make an herbal infused salve you’ll want to start by infusing your chosen oil with your herbs. An easy way to do this is to stuff a jar full of your herbs of choice and pour the oil over them, insuring the oil is about half of an inch above your herbs. Let this sit for a full moon cycle (about four weeks), being sure to shake it daily. This is an excellent way to infuse your more delicate oils without burning them. You can also infuse your oil on the stove top or in a crock pot for faster results. This works best with olive or coconut oil. Simply add your herbs to the oil and let them less than digest (warmed oil) for around 4-5 hours.
Here is a recipe for my favorite hot/cold rub. Remember, this is just a basic recipe and you can add more or less of any of these ingredients and experiment with adding other essential oils and herbs into the mix. The possibilities are endless!
Easy Hot/Cold Sore Muscle Salve
4 oz. Organic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil infused with Cayenne pepper.
½ oz. Beeswax
60+ drops of Wintergreen or Sweet Birch essential oil
Come learn how to make basic medicinal salves using easy to work with ingredients. We’ll also make herb infused lip balms that will be perfect as holiday gifts!