Herbal Gardeners Salve

What You'll Need

  • 4 cups dried herbs of your choice
  • 4 cups unrefined coconut oil
  • 3.5-4 oz beeswax
  • 4 Tbs Vitamin E oil

If I had known, years ago, how easy it was to make this herbal salve, I could have saved hundreds of dollars spent on those fancy tins of Farmer’s Hand Salve. Nevermore!

Composed of only a few ingredients, this herbal salve can be tailored to suit your style, needs, and preferences. We made ours here with lavender, rosemary, and comfrey, but other herbs might be chosen for their scent (rose geranium, wild sage, bay) or their particular healing qualities. Comfrey, although it is not particularly scented, is known to relieve swelling and assist in healing of skin when used topically. Lavender is a calming scent, that also has beneficial healing properties for skin and psyche. Rosemary is known as a mood enhancer, which also stimulates circulation when massaged into the skin. Essential oils may also be added to intensify the effects as well as dried herbs.

Special thanks to Nadine Schaeffer of Birdsong Orchards for the gift of comfrey leaves, and for teaching me to make this salve in her kitchen, one bright gray day.

A note about ingredients; beeswax is a natural product, and as such varies significantly in moisture content, and therefore its hardness; the final texture of the finished salve depends largely on how hard the beeswax you use sets up. If you are concerned about how hard your salve will be, you can test the consistency before you fill your containers, by tucking a few spoons into the freezer before beginning the project. After the oil and beeswax has been combined, near the end of the process, pour a little of the salve onto a cooled spoon and put it back in the freezer for a couple of minutes, then remove it from the freezer and test the consistency of the salve. The texture will be close to that of the finished salve; if it seems too soft, add melted beeswax to the mixture in the pan, in half-ounce increments. If it seems too hard, add a bit more coconut oil, even if it is not infused with herbs.

This recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups of finished salve.


1) Prepare your herbs

Grind, scissor, or chop the dried herbs in a food processor. Smaller pieces of dried herb create more surface area to release their properties; however, herbs ground to a fine powder will be pesky to strain from the finished salve. Aim for a finely chopped, but not powdered texture.

scissor herbs for salve

2) Heat the oil and herbs

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over low heat.

coconut oilAdd the chopped dried herbs to the oil.

homemade salve

Simmer the mixture over low heat for about 2 hours, making sure that it never boils. Stir every 10 or 15 minutes. Your kitchen will start to smell incredible, very soon, and the oil will begin to pick up color from the herbs. Comfrey makes a very green salve.

3) Strain and cool

Remove from heat and strain the mixture through cheesecloth to remove the herbs.
straining herbs
The herbs will have absorbed some of the oil; wait for the herbs to cool in the cheesecloth for several minutes, then press and squeeze the cheesecloth to extract the remaining oil from the herbs. (I sometimes tie up the herbs in the cheesecloth after this step, and save it for use it in a hot bath later in the day, to get one last bit of use out of it.)
cheese cloth for straining

4) Heat the beeswax

Clean out the pan, wiping the last bits of dried herbal material out with a paper towel.
cleaning an oily pan
Melt the beeswax in the clean pan over very low heat.

melting beeswax

5) Combine herbed oil and beeswax

Add the strained coconut oil back into the pan with the melted beeswax, and simmer briefly over low heat, while stirring to combine.
homemade herbal salve

6) Add Vitamin E oil and test

When the ingredients are well mixed, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Vitamin E oil. If you want to add a sprinkle of your preferred essential oils, now is the time to do so. Stir them in with the Vitamin E oil. This would be the time to test your salve, if desired, using the freezer method described in the introduction.
essential oils

7) Fill jars with warm salve and cool

Pour the warm, liquid salve into a measuring cup, or another vessel that is easy to pour from. If you are filling very small containers, such as 1 or 2 oz jars, you may even want to use a turkey baster, gravy separator, or other long-spouted vessel to fill them.

Pour the salve into the containers; here, we are using Ball Elite Half Pint Jars. Make sure that the container fits the application; don’t use a tall, narrow jar that will leave half the salve stuck inside it. Use shallow containers that can accommodate hands of various sizes.

fill ball jars with salveAllow the salve to cool until fully hardened. It can be placed in the refrigerator to hasten this process, if desired.

 gardeners salve

8) Gift or enjoy!

Rub it on, rub it in. This salve will keep at room temperature for several months.

Over to You

It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you grow beautiful, sustainable, gardens wether you have sprawling acres of farm or just a tiny plot along the highway. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.