A Primer On Salve Making, by S.T.

Salve making is an important skill now, and it will become an even more important skill after SHTF. So, master the skill now, collect your recipes, and obtain the various ingredients and equipment needed, because after SHTF there will be no more manufactured goods, and you may not have access to the essential oils and extracts that are needed.

My salve making came about when I went looking for a way to replace store purchased hand lotion with a better product that I could make post-SHTF and has evolved from there. From rosemary salve for dry hands to salve for pain to hand sanitizer to shampoo bars, the list of my products goes on. Everyday I look for something I am used to purchasing that I can make better and cheaper at home and can store the basic ingredients long term.

Equipment:

  • Frying pan; dedicated to salve making.
  • 28 oz tomato sauce cans.
  • #10 cans.
  • Measuring cups & spoons; dedicated to salve making.
  • Plastic lids for cans.
  • Small gravy ladle; dedicated to salve making.
  • Jars.
  • Labels.
  • Fine mesh sieve, or cheese cloth.
  • Dish towels.

Supplies:

  • Bees wax (I like to use ½ white and ½ yellow bees wax beads). Do not use paraffin wax.
  • Essential oils.
  • Extracts.
  • Fresh Herbs.
  • Oil (any type of oil can be used, but my preference is vegetable oil and olive oil).
  • Cotton Twine.
  • Vitamin E oil (optional).
  • Disposable chop sticks (I bring them home from the Chinese take-out). After use, I then add them to my wood stove kindling pile.

There are two main types of salves. The first is made from essential oils or extracts and the second is made from fresh herbs.

Salves made from essential oils or extracts can be made and will be ready for use the same day. Salves made from fresh herbs can take from five to ten days to be ready for use, depending on the herb used.

All the equipment I use in salve making is used only for salve making and never for cooking or processing food. I have chosen to use equipment in a different color, so there is never a mistake.

All cans should be washed, dried, and left in the dish drainer for a minimum of one week to remove all smells of the prior food it contained. You want your rosemary salve to smell like rosemary not tomato sauce.

A few drops of food coloring can be added, if you want a different shade for each of your salves.

The Base

Almost all salves use the same base of three cups of oil and one cup of bees wax.

All recipes can be cut in half or doubled as needed.

When using fresh herbs, if you are using cheese cloth you will only need one can. However, if you are using a fine mesh sieve you will need two cans.

Now that you have your equipment and supplies gathered, let’s start making some salves.

Lay out a clean dish towel on the counter (I use two, so I get a double layer) so the jars when cooling have a nice place to sit, cool, and set.

Set out your clean jars and remove the lids. Baby food jars are awesome and can sometimes be found for free. I use 4 oz ball regular mouth quilted jelly jars (because I do not have a source for baby food jars just yet).

Recipes

Menthol Chest Rub (used for colds and chest congestion). Fill the frying pan ½ full with water and set on the stove at medium heat. Add the oil (vegetable or olive) to the metal can, after about 10 minutes, add the bees wax and stir with a disposable chop stick until all the wax is melted. Remove from the stove and place on the dish towel on the counter.

Add one tablespoon of peppermint oil and one tablespoon of wintergreen oil and stir with the disposable chop stick.

Wait five minutes until the oil starts to cool down then using the small gravy ladle transfer the still liquid salve to your jars.

As an option you can at this point add two or three capsules of Vitamin E oil to each of your jars and stir again with the disposable chop stick.

Let the jars set on the counter without the lid for two hours to set. Then add the lid.

Tea Tree Oil (used for pain). Fill the frying pan ½ full with water and set on the stove at medium heat. Add the oil to the metal can; after about 10 minutes, add the bees wax and stir with a disposable chop stick until all the wax is melted. Remove from the stove and place on the dish towel on the counter.

Add one tablespoon of tea tree oil and stir with the disposable chop stick.

Wait five minutes until the oil starts to cool down, then using the small gravy ladle transfer the still liquid salve to your jars.

As an option you can at this point add two or three capsules of Vitamin E oil to each of your jars and stir again with the disposable chop stick.

Let the jars set on the counter without the lid for two hours to set. Then add the lid.

Arnica Oil (used for pain). Fill the frying pan ½ full with water and set on the stove at medium heat. Add the oil to the metal can; after about 10 minutes, add the bees wax and stir with a disposable chop stick until all the wax is melted. Remove from the stove and place on the dish towel on the counter.

Add one tablespoon of arnica oil and stir with the disposable chop stick.

Wait five minutes until the oil starts to cool down; then using the small gravy ladle, transfer the still liquid salve to your jars.

As an option you can at this point add two or three capsules of Vitamin E oil to each of your jars and stir again with the disposable chop stick.

Let the jars set on the counter without the lid for two hours to set. Then add the lid.

Lip Balm. Fill the frying pan ½ full with water and set on the stove at medium heat. Add the oil to the metal can; after about 10 minutes add the bees wax and stir with a disposable chop stick until all the wax is melted. Remove from the stove and place on the dish towel on the counter.

Add one tablespoon of your favorite oil extract (I use orange or berry extract), and stir with the disposable chop stick.

Wait five minutes until the oil starts to cool down; then using the small gravy ladle transfer the still liquid salve to your jars.

As an option, you can at this point add two or three capsules of Vitamin E oil to each of your jars and stir again with the disposable chop stick.

Let the jars set on the counter without the lid for two hours to set. Then add the lid. If you have a glass eye dropper and empty lip balm tubes, they can be used. (I just use small pots.)

Rosemary Salve (used for dry hands and feet.) Fill the frying pan ½ full with water and set on the stove at medium heat. Add the oil to the metal can, then add the fresh rosemary to the can (if you are using a fine mesh sieve). (If you are using cheese cloth, first place the rosemary in the cheese cloth and tie it up with a piece of cotton twine before placing it in the can.) After about 20 minutes remove the can from the stove and place on the dish towel on the counter and let set for 5 days.

After 5 days set the fine mesh sieve over a second can of the same size and poor the oil through the sieve to remove the rosemary. If you are using cheese cloth, remove the cheese cloth from the can, place it in your hand, and squeeze out all of the infused oil back into the can. (This is a messy job. I learned, so now I use the sieve.)

Return to metal can of oil to the frying pan and heat on medium. Then add the bees wax and stir until melted.

Wait five minutes until the oil starts to cool down; then using the small gravy ladle transfer the still liquid salve to your jars.

As an option you can at this point add two or three capsules of Vitamin E oil to each of your jars and stir again with the disposable chop stick.

Let the jars set on the counter without the lid for two hours to set. Then add the lid.

Balm of Gilead (used for circulation and frostbite). This is the only recipe that I deviate from the standard salve base.

For this recipe you need the fine mesh sieve. Do not use cheese cloth.

During the winter, go out and collect the buds from Poplar Trees. You want the buds to be orange and sticky.

Fill your metal can ½ full of the buds; cover the buds with oil and heat in a frying pan that is filled ½ with water. After heating for about 20 minutes, remove from the stove and place on the dish towel on the counter and let sit overnight. Repeat this for five days.

On the sixth day, set the fine mesh sieve over a second can of the same size, and poor the oil through the sieve to remove the poplar buds.

Return the metal can of oil to the frying pan and heat on medium then add two ice cream scoops of rendered lard (rendered bear fat works great). When the lard is melted, then add the bees wax and stir until melted.

Remove the metal can to the counter and let set overnight. The next day test the completed salve for consistency. (Does it need more oil to be softer or more wax to be thicker?)

Bring the contents of your metal can back to a liquid state in the frying pan ½ filled with water and make any adjustments to oil or bees wax as needed.

Wait 5 minutes until the oil starts to cool down. Then, using the small gravy ladle, transfer the still liquid salve to your jars.

As an option, you can at this point add two or three capsules of Vitamin E oil to each of your jars and stir again with the disposable chop stick.

Equipment Suppliers

Final Notes

If there is any salve left in the bottom of the can after you have filled your jars, add a plastic lid and, using a sharpie on the lid, note which salve it is. Place it in the refrigerator. Then, when you need to add some to a jar or are ready to make another batch, just melt the contents of the can.

The jars can be washed and reused over and over again.

Some salves I have placed in Altoids Tins for EDC in a pocket or purse or in the go bags.

Is there something that you purchase that you can make or would like to make ? If so, is it an item that will be in demand in post-SHTF? Can you make a better product than you can purchase using natural ingredients or less toxic or for less cost for your family?

If you have a local health food store with a good book section, check out the books on natural healing and purchase one or two or check out your local library; you will be surprised at the things you can whip up in your kitchen.

In closing, for me, this is not just a pre- and post-SHTF skill I will use for my family. I know other families will need not only these products but the other products I can and will produce. So, for me, it has also become one part of my post-SHTF business plan. Now, if only I could find a few boxes of baby food jars free or cheap.

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