Making a simple salve or balm is a simple process with many many variations and possibilities!

The basic process goes back thousands of years. Our forbears were adept in thickening oil, probably olive oil with wax which would have been beeswax.


Oils thickened and cooled in this way are stable and will not wick out of containers causing loss and mess.

A very simple basic formula is: one ounce of beeswax melted together with eight ounces of oil. 

Pour the melted combination into jars and voila! You’ve got salve.

And then there are the possibilities!

I personally don’t like oil and wax only as it has a thin and flinty feel so I always add a plant butter like shea, mango or cocoa butter to my salve formulas.

And then the oils! 

There are so many to experiment with to make any number of combinations. You can play with different liquid oils and botanical infusions.

Exotic raspberry or hibiscus seed oils, therapeutic hemp or black seed oils. It’s hard to know where to start.

So to entice you into the wonderful world of salve making here is a recipe that I used to make when I had an herbal products business. 

You’ll note that this is a variation on our basic 1/8 ration of wax to oil. But that is the beauty of the lipid raw materials, so many variations and options!

Below is a recipe taken from my old notes and it made eleven one ounce jars.

Calendula Salve Recipe

  • 1.3 oz beeswax
  • 1 oz Shea butter
  • 8 oz Calendula infused oil
  • 1/2 oz Tamanu oil
  • 1/2 oz Rose hip seed oil
  • 6 drops   Calendula CO2 total
  • 1/2 oz Vitamin E

CLICK HERE to download a copy of the Calendula Herbal Salve recipe!

Notes and Ideas

You can replace the beeswax with a plant based wax to make a vegan salve. However because of the different melt points, and the plant waxes being harder the final result will have its own characteristics.

Scent, color, all the different carrier oils and saturated plant butters, and infused oil possibilities make for nearly limitless opportunities in formulating.

What recipes are you working on? leave a question or a comment below 

  • Both lavender and calendula steeping in EVOO now. Will go daily body butter for don , self, friends!

    • Hi Gloria – these are weighed measurements. But they could be measured – the results would be close. These types of formulas are not finicky and usually result in great salves.

    • Salves tend to be aimed more at healing wounds or scrapes or burns. Balms tend to be a bit more general but really it is just using words to describe oils thickened with wax. Other fun but older terms are unguents and oleums.

  • Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been trying to find something that I could use on my face.I get flaky dry skin that itchy sometimes and when I wash my face, it bleeds and hurts! Nothing I’ve tried so far over the counter works or helps! I think it is eczema but not really sure! I don’t really want to go to a dermatologist and have to take more medications!

    • I have this same issue and the ONLY thing that has worked is plain old Vaseline petroleum jelly. I slather it in at night and it has completely reversed the scaly dry skin issue I’ve been digging with for the last 4 years. Wish I’d known about it sooner. And my skin hasn’t broken out or anything. It’s actually in the best shape it’s ever been in.

  • My daughter and I make a calendula arnica , purple dead nettle , salve it works very well for my arthritis in the fact that my skin bruises easily thank you for your recipe it is different from the one that I have been using and I shall try the one I downloaded from this site again thank you.

  • Love this! One of the first herbs I infused was Calendula flower petals and those infused oils have been really healing, adding lots of enrichment to dry skin. Now there’s a new oil to add—that of Calendula seed!

  • How do you prevent the balm from becoming grainy ? Due to the different melting points of butters and waxes this can occur as it cools. Do you usually place your balm in the fridge or freezer to set ?

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