Making: Ointments, salves & balms

Comfrey & Elder balm a3 _preview.jpeg

– a simple natural, traditional way to use herbs topically for a kitchen first-aid kit. Ideal for cuts, bruises, aching joints and many more...

Homemade ointments and creams fit well in a home remedy medicine chest.  Plus, if you make them yourself, you know exactly what went into them.  They last a long time and are so simple, that once you know how, you will be making them for everyone. It’s addictive!

There are many many recipes available online, most of which advice weights for measurements.  I have always found these difficult as kitchen scales don't weigh small amounts.  I love simple things, and these following recipes have been a trial of love and error, and are easy to knock together!

The Basic recipes are as follows, where oil is used, any type of infused oil can be utilised. To learn how to make infused oil, click here


Method 1: basic balm

you will need:

  • Clean sterilised jars, even recycled jam pots will do, the tiny single serving ones are ideal for travel and for splitting up batches for presents.
  • 4-5 parts oil 
  • 1 part beeswax
  • (This means that for every 25mls of oil you have, you add 1 level teaspoon of beeswax. Use a proper measuring spoon, not a standard spoon as these vary in size)

Gently heat the beeswax and oil together over a bain-marie (a glass bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water) until the beeswax has melted and combined.  To test consistency, place a drop on a cold saucer from the fridge to see how it sets.  If it is still too runny, add more beeswax. If it is too hard, add more oil.

After removing from heat and cooling a little, essential oils can be added for scent or therapeutic use.  The rule is generally 2%-3% of oil to the base mix (20 drops of essential oil make 1ml, Therefore, for every 100mls of ointment, you can add 40-60 drops of essential oil)

These can now be decanted and left to set in a cool place or the fridge.

1% vitamin E oil will help preserve in very hot weather.

Extra hints:  For more moisture It is best to add other oils for this purpose, for example cocoa butter or shea butter, which set at room temperature anyway so less beeswax will be needed in these cases. It’s all about experimentation and finding mixes that work for you.  For lip balm, again use more beeswax for a firmer salve place in small jars.


Method 2: a vegan option

Simply replace the beeswax with candelilla wax


Method 3: Vegan butters

Cocoa butter melted down gently and mixed with 10% oil (90mls cocoa butter, 10mls oil) 

Shea butter mixed with 5% oil (95mls shea butter, 5mls oil)

For this method you need to infuse the butter and oil once melted with your chosen healing herb, then strain and jar. The butter sets naturally into an ointment.


Herbal ointments and their actions

Choosing an infused oil for your ointment, here are some popular options:

  • Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis)- Great for skin healing, an anti-microbial. 
  • St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - This herb is used for nerve pain and aching joints. It is also an excellent remedy for the pain and scar reduction of burns. It is also anti-viral and can be used for shingles lesions. 
  • Elder Leaf (Sambucus nigra) - Inflammation and pain of strains, sprains and bruises.
  • Daisies (Bellis perennis) - A British arnica, great for bruises.