This homemade healing calendula salve is great for bug bites, rashes, and dry skin. The perfect, gentle, healing salve. Salves are the most approachable project for anyone interested in herbalism or natural beauty products, but if you're not familiar with them they can sound a little complex. Don't let the medical-sounding name put you off – herbal salves, especially calendula salve, is easy as pie.
This is made with herbal oil infused with calendula and that's the main ingredient. It takes a few weeks to make the long way so prepare a bit in advance. If you're into herbalism and natural body care, try my homemade toothpaste and rosewater toner, too.
While you technically only need 2 ingredients for this recipe, it is more like 3 total as you also have to infuse the oil with calendula to begin with. You may want extra petals to decorate, too.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Herbal oil: take the time to make calendula oil made using this herbal oil method. There are three ways to make it, and it can be done quickly if you do the double boiler method rather than a long steep.
- Wax: pictured is carnauba wax, for a vegan salve, but you can use an equal amount of beeswax if preferred or if you want to use a local product. Beeswax adds more healing properties and, if from a good source, is also more environmentally sustainable for those of us living in the global north.
- Add-ins: optional lavender or chamomile essential oils, and a few extra dried calendula blossoms for decoration.
What is Calendula Salve
Calendula salve is my favourite to make (along with lotion), and probably the most useful. Calendula is a ubiquitous plant that you'll find in everything from garden beds to tea shops, to a topping on trendy smoothie bowls or in bath products, but it is a potent herb full of many medicinal properties.
It's anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal and basically all-around super healing. It's often applied to small cuts, burns, and bug bites, but come autumn and winter, I love using it on my dry skin, elbows, and cracked hands or feet. This calendula salve is gentle, hydrating, and simple to make. Plus, it makes for a perfect gift.
Making a salve is a two-step process where you begin by first making an infused oil then set it with either beeswax or carnauba wax. While beeswax adds to the healing properties of the salve, it is not vegan, so if a plant-based product is important to you use a carnauba wax, derived from palms.
You can infuse the oil with any number of other herbs or medicinal flowers. Just make sure that both the herbs and the wax come from reputable sources and are organic or pesticide-free.
Begin by making your infused oil. For a full tutorial on how to make your herbal oils, see this post. You can use this recipe to make any herbal salves.
Step 1: combine the oil and wax in a double boiler, making sure the bowl isn't touching the simmering water.
Step 2: heat on low, stirring frequently, until the wax is melted. Add essential oils here if desired.
Step 3: carefully pour the hot mixture into clean and dry containers.
Step 4: Let the mixture partially set before topping with some petals (this is purely aesthetic) or leave plain. Once the wax is set the salve is ready to use.
- Use appropriate containers: make sure the containers are tempered and will not shatter or melt. I like metal tins, but you can reuse old jam jars, tea tins, etc as long as they're heat-safe and non-reactive.
- Wash your hands first: always use clean fingers when applying salve as you don't want to introduce any bacteria that will cause mould.
- Top with dried flowers: fresh petals will spoil as the salve is stored, but dried flowers will look nice for months to come.
How to Store
This salve doesn't contain any preservatives. For longer storage, keep sealed containers in the fridge and only the one you're currently using out at room temperature.
What is calendula salve good for?
Calendula salve is good for cuts, acne, diaper rash, eczema, psoriasis, bug bites, and more. If you have very dry hands from extensive cleaning or cold weather, it's a good layer to add under your usual hand lotion, too (especially at night).
Is calendula salve good for face?
It can help to heal some skin conditions, but might be too thick to use on acne-prone or very oily skin. I sometimes use it on my eyebrows and any dry patches, especially in wintertime.
Is calendula salve good for skin?
Calendula has some anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial for certain skin conditions. This salve is gentle enough that it should be fine for any skin type, even dry, sensitive skin.
- Measuring cup
- Kitchen scale
- Containers something to store the salve in, for example reuse metal tins or glass jars.
- 1 Cup Calendula Oil
- 1 Ounce Beeswax or Carnauba wax to be vegan (grated on a box grater if it's in a large chunk) 28 grams
- Optional - Lavender or Chamomile Essential oils and a few extra dried calendula blossoms.
- Combine both ingredients in a double boiler. Stir over low heat until the oil is melted. If desired add a few drops of essential oil.1 Cup Calendula Oil, 1 Ounce Beeswax or Carnauba wax to be vegan (grated on a box grater if it's in a large chunk), Optional - Lavender or Chamomile Essential oils
- Carefully pour the hot oil and wax mixture into clean and dry containers (make sure they are tempered and will not shatter or melt). I like metal tins, but you can reuse old jam jars, tea tins, etc.
- Let the mixture partially set before topping with some petals (this is purely aesthetic) or leave plain. Once the wax is set the salve is ready to use.