How to Make Comfrey Salve

Jar of comfrey salve on a grey background

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

When I began growing comfrey a few years ago for it's amazing benefits in the garden, I also began making comfrey salve.

Comfrey is a marvelous herb with many benefits. It has anti-inflammatory properties and speeds the healing of wounds. It's even said to help mend broken bones. [Source]

Comfrey should not be used on open wounds. Comfrey heals skin so quickly that it can grow over a deep wound and seal in infection.

People with liver disease, cancer or alcohol abuse should not use comfrey. [Source: Mount Sinai] 

Comfrey salves and creams should be applied for periods of no more than ten days. [Source]  

There are also cautions about using comfrey internally. In spite of these cautions, I have no reservations about using comfrey topically. Just don't apply it to a large or deep open wound. 

Mason jar of infused oil

About comfrey

Comfrey is an easy-to-grow herbaceous perennial that can reach 36 inches in height and about 32 inches around. Each leaf can be over a foot long.

It takes up a lot of space in the garden, but it's worth it. 

The leaves and stems are covered with tiny hairs that can be prickly to our skin. Wearing gloves when tending comfrey is advised. 

I grow comfrey in my garden, then dry it to use in this salve. 

Comfrey leaves can be dried very easily at room temperature. Spread them out in a single layer on a table in a well-ventilated room for several days until they are completely dry. 

If you don't grow comfrey, you can buy the dried herb from Mountain Rose Herbs and other online vendors as well as your local health food or herb store.

This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.

Infusing herbs in oil using the windowsill method

The first step to making a salve is to infuse the herb in a good quality oil. I use olive oil for this comfrey salve.

If you're using fresh leaves, roll them up loosely in a kitchen towel and let them wilt for about 24 hours.

Moisture in the oil can cause the oil to go rancid or develop mold, so drying out the plant material first is advised. 

Comfrey plant growing in a garden

Add the herbs to a glass Mason jar, then add the oil. Cover the jar and set it in a sunny window for a few weeks, shaking gently daily. 

Infusing herbs in oil in the slow-cooker

If you're in a hurry, you can use your slow cooker to infuse oils more quickly.

Place the herbs in the slow cooker and add the oil. 

Use your slow cooker's lowest setting, and let the herbs and oil infuse for several hours. 

Strain the infused oil

When you are through infusing the herbs in oil, pour it through a loosely-woven cloth such as several layers of cheesecloth, letting the infused oil drain into a clean jar.

Squeeze the cloth to get all the goodness out of the herbs. Discard the herbs or put them on your compost pile.

The infused oil is now ready to make into a salve or other product, or you can store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

When refrigerated, the oil will turn opaque and become semi-solid. Once it's warmed up to room temperature, it will once again look like the oil you're used to.

What you need to make comfrey salve

Making salve isn't complicated and you don't need a lot of fancy equipment. Here's what you'll need:

  • comfrey-infused oil
  • beeswax
  • a double boiler
  • containers for your salve

Instead of a double boiler, you can use a glass measuring cup in a pan of water. The handle and the pour spout are handy for this purpose, and the heavy glass container won't tend to float in the pan of water.

Empty can and needlenose pliers

Or use a clean, empty can instead of the measuring cup. You can bend the top slightly with needle nosed pliers to form a spout.

How much oil to use 

How much oil you should use depends on your container and how much it will hold. 

You can measure the total volume by filling it with water and then measuring how much water it holds.

That's the total volume your container will hold. You'll need less oil than the total volume though, because you will be adding beeswax. 

You might start with 75% of the total volume the first time you do this, and increase or decrease the next time you make some.

How much beeswax to use

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'll want it will depend on its intended use. 

For instance, 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.

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 it back into the container. 

For more information on measuring by parts, check out this article.

Related post: My "go-to salve" which includes comfrey, plantain, yarrow and lemon balm

Making the salve

Add water to the bottom pot you're using. Place the glass measuring cup or empty tin can in the water, or set the top pan of the double boiler in place.

Melting beeswax pellets

Add the beeswax to the smaller pan (or the empty tin can, or the glass measuring cup). 

The water in the bottom pot should be just a bit deeper than the wax in the smaller pan if you're using a can, to keep the can from floating and tipping.

Turn the stove burner on low and gently warm the beeswax until it melts. Don't let it boil, heat it just enough to melt the wax.

Don't leave melting beeswax unattended.

When the beeswax is melted, add the infused oil and stir gently to combine.

Then pour your salve into the containers to cool and solidify.

Containers to use for comfrey salve

The short plastic jars that spices come in are good for softer salves. Metal tins with lids work well for a salve that has more beeswax in it.

I used small 4-ounce canning jars for my dandelion salve.

Amazon carries a nice variety of small jars that are perfect for salves and ointments. 

I save all the tiny, empty glass jars that come my way. They hold about one ounce and often contain jelly or mustard in food gift boxes.

Jars of comfrey salve on grey countertop

Where to 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. 

If you don't have a beekeeping friend, you can purchase beeswax online. 

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.

Keep your jar or tin sealed to keep out dust and other contaminants. Apply sparingly for a period of time no longer than ten days. You'll be amazed at the results.

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How to make comfrey salve

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.

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