I guess it may depend on your age on how familiar you are or are not with herbal salves, balms or ointments. Herbal salves or herbal ointments are mostly made with oils, wax, and herbs or essential oils. The herbs used in the herbal salve are either an herbal extract or herbal infused oil. Herbal extracts also known as herbal tinctures are prepared by soaking dried or raw herbs in a liquid infusion. This type of liquid infusion is usually made out of a mixture of spirits and distilled water. While the herbs soak in this infusion or menstruum, the active components of the herb dissolve into the liquid creating a liquid form of the original plant. Both contain the same constituents. An herbal infusion uses a similar process, however, instead of using an infusion or menstruum, you use oil. The most common oils used in a salve or ointment is extra virgin cold pressed organic olive oil or sweet almond oil. The wax used the majority of the time is a pure natural bees wax. The essential oils used in the herbal salve should always be 100% pure essential oils.
Herbal salves are fun to create and make great gifts. They can also be used for many different things. Some ways you can use herbal salves are as follows: a lip balm, cuticle cream, cracked feet, chapped hands, sunburn, sore muscles, inflammation, poison ivy or oak, minor cuts and scrapes, insect bites or stings, or as a decongestant chest rub. You can create an herbal salve for just about any type of issue you might have. Many herbal salves are also multi-purpose. So it is important when creating a salve, to know what you are going to use the salve for. Knowing how you are going to use the ointment will help you select the herbs and essential oils that contain the properties you need.
For example, if you are looking for an addition to your first aid kit, you might select Calendula or Comfrey as an extract or infused oil. Calendula is historically known as one of the best herbs for treating local skin problems and Comfrey is known as a wound healer. You might also want to look at Lavender essential oil because it is historically known for its therapeutic properties in healing burns and as an over all aid to the skin. Some might even take a look at Tea Tree essential oil due to its antiseptic, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. On the other hand, if you were looking to create a salve for sore muscles, you could look at an herbal extract, infused oil, or an essential oil of herbs that have nervine and anti-inflammatory properties like Chamomile, Valerian, or Lemon Balm. If you are interested in creating an herbal salve that has decongesting properties, you might want to look at an herbal extract or infused oil of Mullein or the essential oil Eucalyptus globulus.
Regardless of what type of herbal salve you are creating it is first and foremost to have fun! James Green wrote the book “The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook” and is a great reference and starting point. If making them isn’t your idea of fun, you can always try one of my herbal salves!