Calendula healing salve is a staple if you are into DIY skin care, so we got to work and came up with the best recipe and tips to make your healing salve a success.
What is a Healing Salve? Is it Different Than Balm?
If you google the definition of balm you will find that it comes from Middle English balm: a preparation for embalming. Not a very appealing picture, but good to know.
If you google the definition of salve you will then find it comes from Old English sealfe and it means an ointment used to promote healing of the skin or as protection.
Semantics aside, a balm is generally used as a barrier to protect skin (or beard as in a beard balm), and a salve is used to improve a skin condition. A lip balm, for example, will shield sun or wind or cold and will protect your lips. A massage salve will help you get certain nutrients into your skin, often with the intention to sooth sore muscles or diminish inflammation of skin, muscles and joints.
And the key ingredient to play with balms and salves is beeswax: a balm takes more beeswax and it will get harder and in the case of a lip balm, easier to use when it’s in a tube. A salve uses less beeswax and more oil, making it easy to spread and massage into your skin.
So, to summarize this, a salve is a type of ointment for your skin that contains beeswax but is less hard than a balm, and that you can use to heal or relieve a skin, muscle or joint condition.
How to make Calendula Salve
Just like with cooking food, making your own skin care, or skin foods as we like to call it, thinking with the basics is key. Once you become familiar with the staples of skin care and you have a little practice making your own skin concoctions, you will know what to tweak, which ingredients you can substitute and which ones are essential to a successful product.
And, at Better Shea Butter we always try to keep things simple – but not simplistic. We want you to be in control of your skin care preparations, we want them to be truly helpful, but we do not think you should learn a whole new language and nomenclature or become a cosmetic formulator in order to create some awesome products.
In the Ingredients and How-to below we specify which ingredients and steps are vital to making a successful salve, and we tell you where you can be flexible. Let’s get to it!
Ingredients – the long list
Ingredient #1 – a must have – dry calendula flowers
It all starts with Calendula Flowers. That is the one ingredient that you must have, right? Buy a bag of dry calendula flowers from our store or get some fresh cut marigold (another name for calendula) and dry them in the sun or in the oven. The flowers need to be DRY. Use the whole flower, not just the petals.
Ingredient #2 – a carrier oil of choice
You need to infuse the dry calendula flowers in a carrier oil of your choice, so here’s where you can be flexible. You can use any oil you have at home: olive oil, sunflower oil, jojoba, apricot, etc. For this recipe we used jojoba oil because its properties resemble the properties of your skin and every skin seems to like jojoba oil, so you can’t go wrong with it.
Ingredient #3 – beeswax
We have two choices of beeswax here at Better Shea Butter: our yellow pastilles, easy to measure and quick to melt, or our awesome Texas beeswax, which takes longer to melt because it comes in one hard block, but it smells like honey and it has a beautiful honey color. Guess which one we used for the salve! Yup, you got it, Texas Beeswax. But any beeswax will do the trick.
Ingredient #4 – a cosmetic butter
Although we love shea butter above anything else, we have used Mango Butter for this salve recipe because mango butter is completely unscented and since we are not adding any essential oils to the salve, we prefer something neutral. You are welcome to use shea butter instead of mango butter, just realize that you will smell the characteristic raw and unrefined smokey smell of shea in your salve.
Ingredients – the short list
2 cups of dry calendula flowers
6 oz of jojoba oil (or your carrier oil of choice)
1 oz beeswax
1 oz mango butter (or shea butter)
1. Put the calendula flower in a tall glass jar
2. Pour the Jojoba Oil over the flowers and into the jar. Depending on how absorbent your flowers are, you may need to add more oil. Just use enough oil to cover the flowers by about 2 inches
3. Stir well to ensure all the flowers are evenly covered by the oil
4. Close the lid and put the jar on a sunny window sill for 3 weeks to steep. Check it every few days and shake the jar gently to ensure the oil is covering the calendula flowers
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Oil infusions done right take a few weeks of steeping. However, if that is not realistic or if you need to use an infused oil faster, you can follow this quick 24-hour oil infusion system: pour the oil with the calendula flowers in a pan and heat over very low heat for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Take the pan off the heat, cover it and set it aside overnight.
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5. When the calendula flowers have infused your oil – 4 weeks or 24 hours – filter out the oil using a mesh strainer or a cheese cloth. If you don’t have either, try using a coffee filter.
6. Put your beeswax in a glass pirex container and place the container in a pot with about 2 inches of water. Put this homemade double boiler system on the stove at low heat and let the beeswax melt.
7. Once the beeswax has melted, add the mango butter (or shea butter if you decided to use that). Stir and let everything melt together.
8. Lower the heat, then slowly add the calendula oil while stirring. You will notice that as soon as you add the oil, the beeswax will start to harden up a bit. Just keep stirring until everything is evenly melted together.
9. Take off the heat and immediately pour into your container of choice – either a metal tin or glass jar will work.
10. Set aside your containers and let it cool at room temperature overnight to let the salve set in place completely.
You made it! Your skin care creation has NO harsh ingredients, no unknown chemicals, no preservatives or fillers or water – just pure nourishment.
Use your wonderful calendula salve to soothe irritated skin or to massage aching muscles or painful joints.
We would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment or asks us anything, we are here for you.