July 2, 2014

How to Make Comfrey Salve

Every year I infuse oil with herbs, most of which grow wild here on Oak Hill. The oil is then used to make soaps and healing salves.

My staple is a salve that is made with a variety of fresh herbs: plantain, chickweed, and yarrow, but I make other types too. This year I made cayenne salve for pain relief, and a comfrey salve.


Comfrey is a marvelous healing herb. It has anti-inflammatory properties and speeds the healing of wounds; it even helps to mend broken bones. There are cautions about using it internally, but I have no reservations about using it externally. I don't grow comfrey in my garden yet, so I used dried comfrey that I bought from Mountain Rose Herbs.

The first step to make a salve is to infuse the herb in a good quality oil. I use olive oil. If I'm using fresh herbs, I lay them on a kitchen towel, cover with another towel, and let them dry out a bit, up to 24 hours, before adding them to the oil. This isn't necessary when using dried herbs.

There are two methods for infusing oils: by putting the herbs and oil in a jar in a sunny window for a few weeks, or warm the oil gently in a crockpot. I prefer to use the crockpot.

Place the herbs, either dry or fresh, in the crockpot, and cover with oil. Use the lowest setting, and let it steep for several hours. Then strain the oil through cheesecloth, squeezing it to get all the goodness out of the herbs. The oil is then ready to make into a salve or other product, or you can store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

Refrigerated oil

Making the salve is very easy, and it doesn't take long. You'll need the infused oil and beeswax. Measure the amount of oil you want to use, and bring it to room temperature if you were storing it in the refrigerator.

Melt beeswax gently in a double-boiler or something similar. A glass measuring cup in a saucepan of water (above) works well, and the pour spout is handy; a clean, empty can (below) in a saucepan of water will also work, and the top can be bent slightly to form a spout.

Do not let the beeswax boil, heat it just enough to melt.

Add the infused oil and stir gently until completely incorporated, then pour into the container. That's all there is to it.

How much oil? That depends on your container, and how much it will hold. You can measure the total volume by filling with water and then measuring how much water it holds. You'll need less oil than the total volume though, because you will be adding beeswax.

How much beeswax? The ratio of beeswax to infused oil in salve varies depending on whether you desire a firm product or a softer product that you scoop out with your fingers, and how soft you'd want it will depend on its intended use. A jar of moisturizer should be softer than a tin of bug bite salve that you might want to carry in a pocket or purse.

When I started making salves I used 1 part beeswax to 2 parts oil, but I've changed lately to a softer salve. My advice is to start with a small amount of beeswax. If your finished salve is too soft or too stiff, you can gently reheat and add either more beeswax or more oil, stir, and pour back into the container. Personally it's easier for me to add more beeswax than to add more oil because I usually use all the infused oil and don't have extra.

What kind of container? The little plastic jars that spices come in are good for softer salves, unless you are avoiding the use of plastic. Altoid tins (above) are popular containers. I save all the little empty glass jars that come my way (below), but for remedies that I take outdoors, such as bug bite salve, a healing salve for an animal, or something to repel bugs, I stay away from glass that could break.

Where can you buy beeswax? If you have a friend with bees, you already know where to buy beeswax, and it will have a lovely color and scent. Any residual honey in the natural wax will lend honey's healing properties to the salve as well. If you're not that fortunate, you can purchase beeswax online from Mountain Rose Herbs and other vendors. Be sure to read the label and buy organic beeswax. If the bees have been gathering pollen from fields sprayed with chemicals, those chemicals will be in the wax, in the salve you make, and will be absorbed by your skin.

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor nor a vet. You are responsible for your own health and for that of your animals. Comfrey is not to be used by pregnant or nursing women. Please research this or any other herb or essential oil before using.

This post has been shared at the following at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Wonderful post! I have made a calendula and comfery balm and it is amazing stuff.

  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead8:32 AM

    Michaele, I love homemade balms and salves. They are so nourishing and healing - yes, amazing! Calendula and comfrey sounds like a great combination.

  3. This year will be my first to make my own salves. I've had the herbs steeping (soaking? extracting? I can't remember the correct word to use, lol) in oil for ages now...I'm working up the courage to get out my beeswax and actually mix the stuff! I love the idea of using old tins for this, thanks so much for the tip. I love Mountain Rose Herbs too, and I have loads of tins from their throat soothers and tummy soothers floating around the house!

  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead10:02 PM

    Infusing. :-) I hope you are able to get up the nerve to make the salve soon, Rose. It's really quite simple and you'll do fine, I promise!

  5. Great post and I adore herbal salves!! :)

  6. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead4:32 PM

    Thank you, Staci!

  7. I've never made a salve, but this doesn't look too intimidating. I need to give it a try! I could have used some of this on a burn I got a few days ago! Thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday! :)

  8. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:02 PM

    It's actually quite simple and un-intimidating, Kara. I hope you'll give it a try, and also that your burn heals quickly.

  9. I love this simple tutorial. Thank you for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist. YOU have been featured today at Back to the Basics!

  10. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead6:20 AM

    Thank you so much, Mary! Thank you also for hosting a great hop.


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