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
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
Alternative to Shea butter? I am allergic to it.
Just made some Lemon Balm salve, and am infusing Purple Dead Nettle in olive oil, to make lotion bars!!!
Any idea why beeswax would solidify in the final product (salve) ?
Hi Cynthia, I’m not sure I understand your question. The point of the beeswax, – or any wax – is to solidify the oils to make a solid balm. This is where the amount of wax used will make a softer or harder final product.
Sorry everyone I read it wrong. I’m looking for a recipe for a pain cream.
Hi Sue, If you have access to violets, a violet leaf infusion and balm can be helpful for pain.
Hello Susan, could you please provide this formula in percentage or grams? Thank you so much! I can’t wait to try it.😊
What is calendula CO2 total?
Some plants are extracted by a CO2 method that does not use heat and makes the herb’s constituents available for use in formulating. Calendula CO2 total is one result of this extraction method – it is VERY yellow and has lots of the beneficial properties of the flower. Many suppliers that sell essential and carrier oils often have this product – But the salve can be made without it and still be a wonderful balm. It adds a boost to calendula’s properties.
I have some dandelion heads in coconut oil. Can I add Shea butter and beeswax to make a salve? I have had these for 1 year, carrying them with me when I moved.
Yes, and it will be a wonderful salve!
Calendula salve works great on diaper rash.
Both lavender and calendula steeping in EVOO now. Will go daily body butter for don , self, friends!
Are these measurements weighed or measured?
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.
Thank you soo much for this
What is difference between Salve and Bal.
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.
I have lupus and very itchy skin. What will help me ..I’ve used several products..
Thank you for sharing
Thank you so much for sharing your recipe
Where can I find a recipe for a kratom balm?
Thank you for sharing can’t wait to try this!!!
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.
I’m looking for a recipe for an under eye save.
Quality castor oil works well
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 I get oil from calendula seeds? Ty
You’d need a large volume of seeds and a specialized press to extract the oil. Pressing seeds for oil is not usually something we can do at home.
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 ?
Some butters are more prone to going gritty. Try Shea Nilotica, Kpangnan or cupuaçu betters as they tend not to fractionate as badly. Also, try cooling quickly in the refrigerator can be helpful.
Temper the shea butter first. 80c for 20 min. When you pour, put in fridge immediately.
I also make sure the wax is melted completely before adding shea butter and then melt it completely before adding coconut oil. Then I add any liquid oils and then to the refrigerator to set.
I don’t have any calendula CO2, what can I use instead?
It adds color and some calendula healing properties but the balm recipe will work without it.
Thank you so much for this recipe I have everything except Tamanu oil but I’m going to try it. Look beautiful!
You can always substitute another oil in its place or use more rose hip seed oil.