When I’m experimenting with a recipe, I don’t want to make a giant batch of salves in case it hasn’t hit peak awesome yet – enter this template for creating just one salve jar! I also hate math so I had to have a good sit down to sort this out. I wanted to share in case anyone else is not a fan of math, sorting out ratios, and converting from a bunch of different units of measurement.
I included the percentage ranges for essential oils in 2 oz of carrier oil. The percentage you choose to use, if you use essential oils at all, will depend on the essential oil you’re using. Always look up safe usage rates for your oils first!
I also list the ingredients by weight because it’s much easier to scale up and figure out percentages that way, if you find something you want to make on a larger scale. For me, it also makes it easier to figure out the ratio of beeswax to oils.
Just One Salve Template
- 26 g liquid oil
- 26 g coconut oil or butters
- 7.5 g beeswax or candelilla wax
- 36 drops essential oils optional
- Weigh out the ingredients on a scale
- In a double boiler over low heat, melt the oils, butters, and beeswax together
- When the oils, butters, and the beeswax have melted together, mix in the essential oils (if using)
- Pour the mixture into your jar and let it cool. I tend to stick mine in the fridge to cool, especially if I've used shea butter
- Customize the percentage of essential oils to match the safety guidelines for whatever you're using - 18 drops (1%); 36 drops (2%); 54 drops (3%); 72 drops (4%); 90 drops (5%)
- I usually use organic olive oil infused with herbs for the liquid oil. Infuse your oils with herbs ahead of time
- I use coconut oil for the hard oil/butter because it absorbs really well but we're doing just one jar so you can go wild with experimenting!
- You could also try replacing the wax with a hard butter
- I stick a glass bowl into a small pot with water at the bottom for a diy double boiler
So far I’ve tried out playing around with the proportions of the ingredients to see how it changes how the salve feels and lasts. I tried making one with shea butter instead of beeswax and as you can see, it turned out rather soft. If it’s hot in the house, it’s almost liquid. I love the way it goes on but it’s probably not something you’d want to ship across the country in summer! This gave me a new appreciation for the power of beeswax and the role it plays in salve formulations from a hardness perspective.
Because we know there’s 60 g in a jar and it’s pretty low pressure since it’s just one salve, we’re free to play around with the ratios of the ingredients! I like softer salves but if you like the more solid, you’d probably want to up the beeswax and subtract the same amount from the oils. I made a bunch of jars with different amounts of various butters to see how they compare like:
My advice for making your own blends would be to keep things simple. I don’t like to crowd in too many things so I choose 3 or 4 plants. One plant is usually the star of the show and the others play a supporting role and help round out the formula. A thoughtful and simple formulation is what tends to work best for me.
You can see more of my adventures in salve making in Poison Ivy Picnic Salve (jewelweed salve). We still have jars of that hanging around because I made more than necessary. It’s also nice to have a go-to recipe for just one salve so you can scale up as needed and reduce waste from over-production.
Now go forth and experiment! Let us know in the comments how it goes