HolisticWisdom.org web site
Linda Diane Feldt
NCTMB, Holistic Health Practitioner and Herbalist
The Ann Arbor Center for Holistic Health and Traditional Wisdom
Making salves is easy. These are the three methods I use, listed in order of preferred for effectiveness.
You will need an herbal oil, grated or slivered beeswax, small pot that holds 1 quart, a couple of spoons, containers for the salve.
You’re making an oil that will sit for 6 weeks. Use a sterilized or dishwasher clean jar, plastic (preferred) or metal lid.
Fresh leaves – fill the jar but do not pack down.
Dried leaves – fill the jar half full or a little more
Fresh flowering tops – fill the jar but do not pack down
Dried flowering tops – fill the jar about half full
Fresh or dried root seed or bark – fill the jar half full, a little less for dried
Add olive oil to the top of the jar, put on the lid, shake air bubbles to the top, add more oil if needed.
Place in a cool dark place, shake occasionally (I tend to shake roots and seeds more than leaves – but only every few days or once a week).
At the end of 6 weeks, strain the oil using cheesecloth, coffee filter, or clean thin kitchen towel. Compost the plant material.
Refrigerate the oil in another very clean jar until you’re ready to use it.
Place your plant material in a shallow pan. Just cover with olive oil. Bake in a slow (about 200 degree) oven for 2-4 hours. Less for plants containing essential oils such as catnip, more for bark roots and seeds. Strain as above, refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
Using these herbal oils, made from either method, gently heat the oil in a small pot. Heat just enough so that about 2 handfuls of slivered or grated beeswax will melt. Do not let the heat enough to “crack” (the sound oil makes when it is too hot), smoke, or bubble. Very low heat is fine. Test the salve by dipping a cold spoon into the oil after you’ve melted the beeswax. It should cling to the spoon, form a small puddle, and when you press it with your finger it should be hard to the touch. Not so hard that you have to push it to penetrate, but a consistency that you like when applied to the skin. Add more beeswax if needed, keep testing with a cold spoon.
Once you have the consistency you like, poor the oil into salve containers. The cheap way to go is with used film canisters, you can buy nice screw top containers at camping supply stores, or collect fancy metal or plastic containers. The salve will cool in a few minutes.
The quick method for making salves is to heat plain olive oil, add up to 3 teaspoons of tincture per quart, add beeswax and test as above. The only thing to be aware of is that the tincture can separate from the oil so keep stirring as you pour your salves into the containers.
For longer life, store slaves in the refrigerator, use only a clean finger or a spoon or other washable utensil for dipping into the slave, and discard if there are any signs of mold or rancid smell. Salves can last anywhere from months to years depending on the content and how they were made.