Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske

To Create A Salve

I’ve been making salves for almost 40 years. At the height of production, I formulated fourteen varieties and shipped them all over the world. I made salves for burns, bruises, stretch marks, lips, hands, soles, coughs and colds. I felt like a real alchemist as I gently heated the infused oil and blended in the melted beeswax until the right consistency was achieved.

Our great-great-grandmothers mixed unguents to treat bites, burns, boils, chapped hands, splinters. Pioneer, native and slave women healed their family, clan and tribe working over their hearth fires melting beeswax, lard or tallow then merging the thickener with herbs and oils.

I haven’t made salves as part of my product line for ten years. I still get requests and have been passing on the recipes to customers so they can make their own. Most find this valuable historical herb skill satisfying and practical.

For readers of The Healthy Planet, as a token of my appreciation for following my column for 17 years, here’s instructions for making your own healing herbal salve.
To make a salve, start with an infused oil. Fill a pint or quart wide-mouth mason jar with dried plant material and cover the herbs with olive oil. Place in a dark cool place like a pantry. Shake the jar once a day for one month. At the end of one month, strain the herbs. Now you have an infused oil. Gently heat the infused oil adding 2 Tbsp of beeswax per 6 ounces infused oil. Pour a small amount into your salve jar to test the consistency. If too soft, add more beeswax. If too hard, add more oil. When you have the desired consistency, fill all your salve jars. Let cool and cap. Option: as the jars are cooling, you can add a few drops of essential oil.

Here’s my recipes for Chickweed Remedy and Herbal Aid. The herb ingredients are native to the midwest and can still be gathered this time of year from your yard and garden. Or buy your herbs from a qualified herb company. I’ve listed recommended suppliers below.

Chickweed Remedy
– Ingredients: olive oil, 1 part chickweed, 1 part plantain, 1/2 part pine bark, 1/2 part witch hazel bark, 1/4 part white oak bark, beeswax. A drawing salve for insect bites of all kinds. Apply as often as needed, to relieve itching and draw out toxins of wasps, bees, mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks. Also draws out infection in a wound or sore. Reduces swellings from poison ivy, insect stings, hemorrhoids.

  • Chickweed – for infections, inflammations; cools any “hot” condition.
  • Plantain – aids burns, stings, boils, insect bites.
  • Pine Bark – draws out splinters and drains skin eruptions.
  • Witch Hazel Bark – an astringent useful for any inflammation.
  • White Oak Bark – another powerful astringent.

Herbal Aid – Ingredients: olive oil, 1 part black walnut hulls, 1/2 part echinacea root, 1/2 part goldenseal root, 1/2 part juniper berries. An antiseptic salve for eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, acne, herpes, fungus, diaper rash, infected sores or wounds.
Black Walnut hulls – antibacterial,
antiviral, and fungicide.

  • Echinacea Root – powerful natural antibiotic and antiseptic.
  • Goldenseal Root – highly regarded medicine for infections; powerful natural antibiotic.
  • Juniper Berries – treats wounds and inflammations.

Suppliers of high quality herbs, beeswax and salve jars:

Check out Pat Tuholske’s “Nature Chronicles” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship at pattuholske.com. See her Wild Wreaths, Wheels, Twigs and Native Herbal Remedy (aka Essiac) crafted from Ozark native plants at willowrainherbalgoods.com.