[Herbal Rootlets] No. 64 – Making Herbal Salves with Kids

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Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature.  Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.

– Zenobia Barlow, “Confluence of Streams”

Kids love to make herbal remedies. Salve making is easy to do and a lot of fun and kids take pride in being able to use it for themselves or their friends and family. Lip balms are made similarly to salves and can be another fun project. Salves are great for applying herbs where you need them without a huge mess. They are compact and can be traveled with easily and ready to use when the fresh herb isn’t around.

To make a salve, you first need to infuse your oil with herbs. You can read up here on how this is done if you missed the previous newsletter.

Let’s get started!
To make a salve, you will need your infused oils, beeswax and vitamin E. You can purchase vitamin E capsules at your local drugstore. You’ll only need a few drops.

Measure your oil and place it in the top of a double burner. For every 4 parts oil, add 1 part beeswax. For instance if you have 4 oz. of oil, you’ll add 1 oz. of beeswax.

Gently heat until the beeswax is melted. Dip a teaspoon into the salve and bring out, shake off. Let it set up either at room temperature or in the freezer for quicker results. When it has hardened, you can tell how thick the salve is. If you think it’s going to be too hard, add a bit more oil. If you’d like it harder, add a bit more beeswax. It will become a bit harder than it is on the spoon so keep that in mind when you make any adjustments.

When it is the consistency you want it, use the tip of a sharp knife to poke a hole in the vitamin E capsule and squeeze it into the salve. Stir and pour your salve into a wide mouthed jar or metal container.

Storing your salve
Salves store best in a cool, dark place. They generally remain useable for about a year. Smelling them often will indicate when they’ve gone bad as they will have a strong rancid smell. If this occurs, compost the salve and make a new one.

How about lip balms?
Once you make your own lip balm, you’ll be hooked! One batch of lip balm makes about 18 – 20 lip balms. You can use lip balm tubes or tins for pouring your salve in. Both can be found on eBay fairly inexpensively.

1/2 oz. almond oil
1/2 oz. jojoba oil
1 oz. shea butter
1 oz. beeswax
1/4 teaspoon honey
1/8 t. vitamin E
2 tablespoons Dried herbs of choice (Calendula, Prunella, Plantain are some good choices)
Essential oil of choice such as orange, peppermint, cinnamon or vanilla extract

Place chosen herbs in a mini crockpot or double boiler and cover with almond and jojoba oil. Let gently simmer for 2 -3 hours until herbs have infused with oil. The herbs will look spent. Alternatively, if you already have your oil made, you can use a previously infused oil.

Strain off the herbs.

Add the shea butter and beeswax to the mini crockpot and return the infused oil until melted. Stir to combine. Add vitamin E oil and essential oils and stir to combine.

Pour your lip balm into a small glass measuring cup that has a pour spout on it. Carefully pour the lip balm into the tubes or tins.

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What some more sources of information about making herbal salves?

Try these books:

A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra page 94

Healing Wise by Susun Weed pages 273

Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech pages 87 – 88 (Second part of Chapter 10)

The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green Chapter 18: Ointments, Salves & Balms pages 201 – 208 (click to see online…5 pages are missing from this version)

Herbal salve are easy to make and easy to use. They are a great next step for kids to learn how to make.

Have you made herbal salves or lip balms with your kids? What kinds did you make and what did you use them for?


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