Making Herbal Salves

Making Herbal Salves


Making herbal salves at home is easy and they can provide better results than over-the-counter medications. Mainly used externally, herbal salves are most efficacious in the treatment of skin wounds, infections, and irritations.

Herbal Salve Basics

While grinding your own fresh herbs produces the best result you may also purchase dried herbs in bulk or in capsule form. If you opt for using the latter form, break apart the capsules to release the powered herb.

Use a small dish to contain the herbs and mix them with mineral water, petroleum jelly, or Aloe vera juice. Petroleum jelly is an excellent choice since it is thicker and will stay in place when you spread it on the skin. Aloe juice is a good choice for penetrating salves because it will carry the herbs into the inflamed or swollen muscles and joints.

Virgin olive oil may ever be employed as an emulsifying agent. However, when using Aloe juice or either of the oils adding slippery elm is a good idea. This herb will thicken the mixture so it won?t be so runny.


In making herbal salves consistency and homogeneity are crucial. To this end mix the herbs with a small portion of the liquid or jelly at a time. This will ensure a uniform saturation of the active ingredients. Also, you can better control the consistency so your finished medication won?t be too thin and not adhere to the skin.

Comfrey Salve

When you have kids at home with their penchant for getting cuts and scrapes comfrey salve is a very useful all-around ointment to keep in stock. Comfrey is an herb that accelerates the repair of damaged tissues. Wounds will close more quickly and scarring will be minimized. Mix the ground comfrey with petroleum jelly for best results. Also, add a pinch of goldenseal to prevent infection from occurring. Comfrey also relieves pain and has general tissue soothing properties.

Hemorrhoid Relief

If hemorrhoids are a problem concoct a salve by mixing Aloe Vera juice, Goldenseal, and white willow or white oak bark. The goldenseal will treat inflammation and the white willow bark will ameliorate the discomfort. Aloe juice will speed absorption into the tissues. Insert the salve into the anus before bedtime and frequently the hemorrhoids are gone by morning. The addition of garlic to the salve is an excellent treatment for killing pinworms and expelling their eggs. This treatment is completely safe for children.

Making herbal salves provides a safe and inexpensive treatment for ailments ranging from splinters and ingrown toenails to burns and cuts. Some of these salves can be used internally as in a hemorrhoid preparation but most are used topically on the skin.



Making Herbal Infusions

Making Herbal Infusions


Herbal infusions are potent water-based preparations. They are superb for extracting the medicinal properties of dried herbs. You can drink them or use them externally as skin washes, compresses, douches, sitz baths,or poultices.

How are they different from a tea? They are made using larger amounts of herbs and are steeped in an air-tight container for at least several hours. You can drink them at room temperature, reheated, or over ice.

Quart size canning jars are ideal to use because they rarely break when you pour boiling water into them as long as they are at room temperature when water is added. They also allow for a tight seal.

Using Dried Leaves

Put 1 ounce (a large handful) of dried leaves into a quart jar and fill the jar with boiling water.

Screw the lid on tight and let steep until completely cool.

Strain out plant material.

Using Dried Roots or Barks

Put 1 ounce (a large handful) of dried roots or bark into a pint jar and fill the jar with boiling water.

Screw the lid on tight and let steep until completely cool.

Strain out plant material.

Using Dried Flowers

Put 1 ounce (a large handful) of dried flowers into a quart jar and fill the jar with boiling water.

Screw the lid on tight and let steep 2 or 3 hours.

Strain out plant material.

Using Dried Seeds

Put 1 ounce (a large handful) of dried seeds into a pint jar and fill the jar with boiling water.

Screw the lid on tight and let steep for 1/2 hour – no more or the taste will be bitter.

Strain out seeds.

Printer friendly instructions for making infusions

Herbal Baths

When used in the tub, the medicinal properties of an herbal infusion will be absorbed through the skin.Add 2 quarts of a strained infusion to your bath water and enjoy!

Herbal Sitz Bath

For a sitz bath, fill a large, shallow bowl or pan with at least 2 quarts of strained infusion and have a seat!

Herbal Poultices

For an herbal poultice you will retain the plant material from your infusion and apply it directly to the desired area. The liquid can be used to wash the area first if desired. This is an effective way to treat infections or wounds.

Herbal Compress

For an herbal compress you retain the plant material from an infusion and place it in a clean cloth or piece of gauze. Place it on desired area. You can dip it in the liquid from your infusion if desired. Compresses are useful for treating eye sties or when you don’t want plant material to enter open wounds.

Making Herbal Oils

Making Herbal Oils


Oils of olive, almond, coconut or almond are all good choices and it is best to use fresh plant material though some dried roots are appropriate provided they have been thoroughly dried. (You can bake roots at a very low temperature for 1 hour before using.)

~ Select fresh, dry plants. Wipe off any dirt and discard damaged parts. You should select enough plant material to completely fill the jar you are going to be using.

~ Coarsely chop the herbs and pack them into a clean and very dry jar. Use a jar with a very tight fitting lid as some herbs will ‘gas-off’ which can cause oozing.

~ Pour your oil slowly over the herbs all the way to the the very top of the jar. Poke the herbs with a long, thin object to eliminate as many air pockets as possible This will reduce the opportunity for mold to grow. Fill with oil to thevery top and screw the lid on very tight.

~ Label your jar with the date and type of herbs and oil used.

~ Keep the jar on a flat surface at normal room temperature for 6-8 weeks. Leaving the herbs in longer could result in mold.

~ Pour off into a clean, very dry jar. Strain herbs through a clean piece of cloth.

~ Let sit for several days after you decant it to let any water that seeped from the herbs settle to the bottom of your jar. Pour off into a new clean, very dry jar.

~ Label your creation and store in a cool dark place.

Making Herbal Tinctures

Making Herbal Tinctures


Herbal tinctures are spirit-based powerful elixirs made from a concentration of one or more herbs. These tinctures are usually made from fresh plant material combined with an alcohol such as vodka or brandy, or another liquid such as vinegar or ethanol.

Selecting Your Spirits

Before herbalist can begin the process of making an herbal tinctures, they need to determine the type of alcohol that will combine with the plant material.

Although many commercial tinctures use 198-proof alcohol, many herbalists chose a simple, easy to obtain, affordable 100-proof vodka. Using a 100-proof alcohol can also ease the formulation process of a tincture.

Ways to Avoid or Reduce Alcohol Content

You can employ strategies to reduce the amount of alcohol in a tincture, if you become concerned with the alcohol-to-herb ratio.

  • Placing the container in boiling water for one to two minutes after prepared can reduce the alcohol content by as much a fifty percent.
  • Vinegar or glycerin can be added to the solution, although most experts believe this decreases the potency of the tincture.

How to Make a Tincture

Although many different methods exist to make herbal tinctures, certain basic steps apply to most tincture recipes. These include:

  • Select herbs for the tincture
  • Properly prepare by lightly cleaning and removing excess dirt and/or foreign matter – be careful not to thoroughly immerse or clean, as this could reduce potency
  • Chop the stems, roots and leaves into a course material; flowers can be left whole
  • Place herbs into a glass jar or container
  • Add the liquid, ensuring all herbs/flowers are fully immersed
  • Firmly seal the container
  • Store in a temperature controlled environment for six to eight weeks for optimum flavor and affect

Storing in a cool and consistent temperature is best. Although tinctures do not require a cold environment, avoid higher temperatures that will affect the flavor of the tincture.

While being stored in its distilling period, it’s best to gently shake it periodically to allow the herbs and liquid to mix thoroughly.

After the weeks of distilling, strain herbs from the liquid; then pour the pure liquid into a clean, dry bottle for long-term storage and use.

Most herbalists advise getting into the habit of labeling bottles clearly with the herbs and liquids used in the tincture.

Advantages of Tinctures

Tinctures have several advantages, including:

  • Tinctures remain potent for years
  • A multitude of doses can be derived from a small amount of plant material
  • Tinctures are very portable
  • Most tinctures are fast acting, even in small doses
  • Tinctures can be easily controlled

Herbal tinctures have been used for many years and most of the recipes are easy to follow. Adding too much alcohol to the tincture is easily fixed; in addition, alternative methods can reduce or eliminate alcohol all together.