Salves & What They Are Used For

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 but what exactly are they?

Salves & What They Are Used For

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medicinal ointment for healing or relieving wounds and sores.1

To be honest, I had a hard time finding information on herbal salves and their history, but I did find that the Native American’s used salves and medical ointments to treat topical conditions. The rest of the things I’m going to discuss are from personal experience and from researching salve recipes.

What are they used for?

Salves are typically used to treat topical skin conditions. They also make great all around moisturizers.
Note: NEVER internally take a salve. 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 kind of things can salves treat?

  • 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 more out there but this list covers a big chunk of what salves are typically used for.

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 help 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 treat 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 the 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 treating an injury. They are also 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. I use Organic ingredients in all of my products as much as I can and get most of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, Bulk Herb Store, or I sustainably harvest them myself. Always make sure to do your own research on the ingredients as some herbs may not be used correctly!

Can you make salves?

Why yes you can!

Learn how to make a basic salve here!

Here are some salve recipes available for specific treatments:


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

Disclaimer: All information on Not Your Typical Hippie is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for every person. Please consult a doctor before making any health changes. I am not liable for any choices you make based on the information provided on this website. (Learn more here)