Natural Body Care: Homemade Salve


My hands need help: they’re dry, red, and crying out for help. I recently figured out that the “natural” dishwashing soap I was using in the kitchen contained SLS, which was breaking down the skin on my hands; once I stopped using that soap, my hands began to heal. Unfortunately, the cold weather and low humidity has exacerbated the dry skin situation, as has frequent hand-washing (dirty hands are a fact of life on the farm). So what to do? Make an ultra-rich healing salve, of course!

This is the second iteration of healing salve. The first, in retrospect, was too greasy (the olive oil didn’t absorb well), and it wasn’t thick enough. I wanted a salve that would go on easily but also stay on while my skin drank it up. With this formula, I incorporated all the herbal goodness of the first recipe, but added a few new ingredients.

Herbal Hand Helper Salve

  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp comfrey leaf (dried)
  • 1 Tbsp calendula flowers (dried)
  • 1 tsp plantain leaf (dried)
  • 1 tsp yarrow flowers (dried)
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary leaf (dried)
  • 1 tsp vitamin E oil
  • 1 Tbsp shea butter
  • 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
  • Essential oils – optional (I used about 7 drops each of bergamot EO and rosemary EO)
  1. Begin by infusing the herbs into the olive oil: pour the olive oil into a glass canning-type jar (I used a lower-profile pint Ball jar), along with the dried herbs, and place it into a slow cooker. Add enough water so that the jar is about 3/4 submerged. Put the lid on and allow it to infuse on low for about 12 hours.
  2. Once the time has elapsed, remove the jar from the water (carefully, it will be hot) strain the oil and herbs through a fine mesh bag (or use a clean nylon sock, like I did – it works great), squeezing it to ensure all of the precious oil is released.
  3. Add the infused oil back into the original jar (wipe the jar out if there is an undesirable amount of herb residue in there), along with the remaining ingredients. Stir it and place it back in the slow cooker (on low) until the ingredients have melted and combined.
  4. Carefully (it will be hot) remove the jar with the liquid salve and pour into a glass measuring cup with a spout (this will make it easier to pour into containers). Fill your clean waiting containers.
  5. Once cool, your salve is ready to smooth onto your hands!


This was the first time I’d used the slow cooker infusion method, and I found it preferable to a stovetop double boiler; plus, it actually seemed to infuse the herbs into the oil more effectively. I’m very pleased with salve version 2.0: it absorbs well, smells great, and doesn’t contain any “extra” ingredients I didn’t specifically want in there. No synthetic ingredients, no preservatives, and no artificial colors or fragrances – my kind of product!

Did you make this salve? Let us know how it came out in the comments!