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Basic Herbal Ointment Recipe

Herbal ointments or salves differ from creams and lotions in that the basic ingredients are oil based. Ointments or salves are simpler to make than creams and lotions as there is no requirement to emulsify water and oil.

Beeswax, Lavender essential oil, Calendula infused oil

The simple basic herbal ointment recipe below is vegetarian but, due to the use of beeswax, it is not vegan.

For the purposes of this particular herbal ointment recipe we will choose a calendula infused oleum (oil) as a base.

This recipe will not work with aromatic waters or infusions but will work very well with oils such as sweet almond and wheatgerm or an infused oleum (oil) of comfrey or marigold. A few drops of essential oils can also be added.

  • beeswax
  • calendula infused oil
other items:

saucepan, bowl, measuring scales, measuring jug or container, clean sterilised jar with lid and label

  • basic herbal ointment recipeMeasure out the appropriate beeswax and infused oleum in relation to the size of the jar(s) for the finished product i.e. approximately 2½ g beeswax and 20ml of oil for a 30g jar.

As a general rule of thumb you use one part beeswax to 8 parts oil. If your ointment sets too firm you have used too much beeswax.

  • Melt the beeswax using the bain marie method (a bowl over a saucepan of water will work well). Beeswax granules are easier. However, if you have a large piece of beeswax it is quicker to break it up first by chopping or grating.
  • Once the beeswax has began to melt, stir in the oil(s) slowly and turn off the heat. Note: you don’t want to boil the oil and risk losing the medicinal properties.
  • Add any essential oil(s) if desired.
  • Decant into clean, sterilised jar(s) with screw top lids.
  • Allow to cool, seal, label and date.
Some other ideas:

Once you have mastered the basic ointment you can elaborate on this by adding in essential oils simply for aroma or for therapeutic and/or cosmetic properties.

An ointment could also contain a combination of two or even three infused oils. For example a combination of infused oils of Lavandula (lavender) and Calendula (marigold) as a healing skin ointment. Infused oils of Zinger (ginger) and Symphytum (comfrey) for arthritic aches and pains. Using an infused oil of Hypericum (St John’s wort) makes a great simple lip balm for chapped or cracked lips.

Adding wheatgerm oil and/or essential oils can help preserve an ointment or salve.

As a basic preparation ointments or salves are generally soothing and healing. They can also be used as a protective barrier.


BSc (Hons) Herbal Medicine /
Diploma in Aromatherapy & Essential Oil Science

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