Salves or balms are effective and convenient preparations for soothing and healing skin. One very popular salve is lip balm. These preparations are very easy and satisfying to make. Any herbal-infused oil or carrier oil can be turned into a salve with the simple addition of beeswax, which solidifies the oil. The hardness or softness of the salve depends on how much beeswax you use. In general, I like to make balms on the harder side because they are then more stable and don’t ooze out of the jar and into my bag on a hot day. The addition of beeswax slows down the oil’s oxidation process, delaying rancidity and prolonging shelf life. The formulas in this blog have varying beeswax-and-oil ratios, resulting in softer or harder consistencies depending on the purpose of the salve.
Directions for Salves and Balms
In general use 3 oz. of oil to 1 oz. of beeswax (liquid measures, in both cases).
Put a pot filled 4 inches high with water on the stove over medium heat. Fill a heat-proof measuring cup with liquid oil to the 3-oz. mark, then grate or cut small pieces of beeswax and add it to the oil up to the 4-oz. mark. Place the measuring cup in a hot-water bath and heat until the beeswax has thoroughly melted into the oil, stirring it well with a chopstick or spoon. Pour the preparation into a dry, wide-mouth, 4-oz. glass jar and watch it solidify as it cools. If you are going to add essential oils to your salve you should do so right after pouring the mixture into the jar and cap the jar immediately to prevent the volatile essential oils from evaporating. Leave the salve undisturbed while it is cooling. Some people use a separate double boiler for melting the beeswax adding it in liquid form to your already heated oil. This method reduces the amount of time the oil is heated. If you choose this method, the oil has to be hot enough to accept the beeswax or it will clump up. If this happens, just continue heating the mixture and stirring until the wax is thoroughly melted.
To test salve consistency, drip a small amount of melted salve onto a saucer and place it in the freezer for 1 minute. You may choose to experiment and change the oil-to-beeswax ratio if you prefer either a harder or softer salve.
Store salves tightly capped away from heat and direct light.
Summer Salves. During the summer months use more beeswax for a thicker and more stable salve, since the ambient heat can turn a salve into a thick liquid and also may cause the oil to go rancid. Use 1 oz. of beeswax, 2 oz. of oil and a 3 oz. glass jar, proceeding as above.