Salves & Their Uses

Salves are a very common natural remedy that is easy to make at home. They have been around for quite some time and are even available in stores.

medicinal ointment for healing or relieving wounds and sores.1

There is little information available on the history of salves but it is known that the Native American’s used salves and medical ointments to treat topical conditions.

What are they used for?

Salves are typically used to treat topical skin conditions. They also make great all-around moisturizers.
Note: NEVER take a salve internally. You wouldn’t eat lotion, so why eat a salve? However, this does not mean they are necessarily toxic if consumed. If you or a child gets a little in your mouth or lick your hands, you should be okay depending on the ingredients and if that person has any allergies. If consumed in a large amount it’s best to call poison control just in case, especially if you or a child might be allergic to any ingredients.

What are salves used for?

  • Minor Burns
  • Bruises
  • Bug Bites & Stings
  • Itchy Rashes (mosquito bites, poison ivy, etc.)
  • Scars
  • Stretch marks
  • Eczema
  • Splinters
  • Sore Muscles
  • Achy Joints
  • Dry Skin
  • Minor Cuts
  • Sunburns
  • Razor Burn
  • Athlete’s Foot

There are many things that salves are used for but this is a list of common conditions they are used for most.

How do they work?

First, herb(s) are infused in an oil, typically olive oil. During the infusing process, the properties of the plant or plants are infused or extracted, into the oil. The oil now has the medical properties of the plant without having to physically use the plant for treatment.

The topical treatment of skin injuries with products that contain herbal extracts helps aid in the healing process but can also help soothe the injury.

Salves are made for a specific purpose in mind. The right plants have to be chosen to aid in the healing process of the right condition.
For example: If you want to create a salve that will help skin injuries, such as minor cuts, bruises, or scars, you’ll find that the Calendula flower has properties that aid in topical skin healing. Calendula infused oil would then be used to create a salve to treat these injuries. You always want to make sure that the plants have the right properties to help heal or soothe the injury and not make it worse.

Salves are really created for convenience. You can use infused oil the same way you would a salve (in most cases). Since salves are created to be more like lotions, it gets absorbed into your skin faster and other ingredients, like coconut oil and essentials oils, can also aid in the healing process. They also tend to be less greasy.

Where do you get salves?

One salve you may be familiar with is Burt’s Bees Hand Salve. It’s used for rough, dry hands. So, salves have been around most of us without realizing it! However, many salves that contain more than just dry skin healing are not available at Walmart.

There are quite a few online places you can purchase salves.

When looking for places to buy salves always make sure the seller is using quality ingredients. Always make sure to do your own research on the ingredients as some herbs may not be used correctly!

Can Salves be made at home?

Yes they can!

Learn how to make a basic salve here!


1 Dictionary Definition 
Secrets of Native American Herbal Remedies by Anthony J. Cichoke
The Handbook of Vintage Remedies by Jessie Hawkins 

Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. Licensing is not available in the United States for an herbalist to practice herbal medicine.  If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. Every person is different and I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for everyone.  You are responsible for your own health and any decision to alter your health is your own choice. Please consult a doctor before making any serious health changes.

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