Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Homemade Herbal Burn Salve

Last week a friend of mine burned herself, nothing requiring a visit to the emergency room, but a painful red burn nonetheless. I made her a jar of this herbal burn salve and the next day, she said her skin felt better and was healing much faster. Because it is so soothing and nourishing, it can be used to heal cracked and dry hands as well. This recipes calls for a few more specific dried ingredients than most of my others, but do try to include everything if you can; each ingredient serves a purpose.

Calendula officinalis (Calendula or Pot Marigold)

Calendula officinalis, or pot marigold, is commonly used in cosmetics and topical ointments to help heal and sooth the skin. It is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic making it great at fighting acne or healing burned and damaged skin.

According to Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, calendula was historically very popular in the kitchen. It was cooked with vegetables and added to soups and oatmeal. There were calendula dumplings, pudding, and wine. An Elizabethan cookbook called for calendula to season stewed sparrow. Calendula petals can be used as a food coloring agent (you can make yellow rice without the need for expensive saffron!).

Calendula was also believed to posses magic. A 16th century potion that allows one to see fairies required it. So did a recipe for a prophetic dream potion; a woman struggling to choose between two suitors was to "...take dried calendula flowers, marjoram, thyme, and wormwood; grind them to a fine powder; and simmer them in honey and white wine. Then she should rub the mixture over her body, lie down, and repeat three times: "St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me; In dreams let me my true love see!" ( Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs page 59-60) 

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried calendula flowers
1 tablespoon dried St John's Wort
1 tablespoon dried chamomile flowers
1 teaspoon beeswax
1 teaspoon cocoa butter (I estimated two wafers)
10 drops vitamin E oil
4 drops lavender essential oil

In a double boiler, mix together the olive oil, calendula, St John's Wort, and chamomile. Simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, refilling the double boiler as the water evaporates. Remove from heat and allow the herbal oil mixture to cool before handling (but at least if you burn yourself you'll have this salve to put on it!).

Using a few layers of cheesecloth, strain out the herbs. Twist the cloth and squeeze really hard to get out as much of the herbal infused oil as you can.

Return the strained oil to the double boiler and add the beeswax and cocoa butter. Warm until just melted then remove from heat. Allow the oil/beeswax/cocoa butter mixture to cool for a few minutes, but don't let it solidify.

Add the vitamin E oil and lavender essential oil, stir thoroughly and pour into a clean glass jar. Cover and let the salve cool and set before using.


  1. I'm working on an herbal 1st aid kit, will be making this. You rock! Still high on asthma meds and tea! Wheee!

  2. Cool! I'm going to try this! I made a salve once using coconut oil, beeswax and a bunch of essential oils recently, but I like this one better!

    1. Glad to hear it, I'd love to hear how it turns out. It might be interesting to pull from the strengths of the recipe you made before with some from this one, and make a super salve!

  3. This is really helpful, Claire! The ingredients here are very accessible and it’s easy to make. It can be a good addition to my first aid kit!