Black Walnut Salve Recipe

Black walnut salve is useful for things like athletes foot, fungal rashes, toenail infections, ringworm, psoriasis, and various skin woes. If you have a longstanding mystery rash on your arm or leg and no one is quite sure what it is – try some black walnut salve and you may find relief!

small glass jar filled with dark green salve surrounded by freshly fallen walnuts and fall leaves

To make this salve, you need to ideally source fresh black walnuts (Juglans nigra). There’s an abundance of them on the ground this time of year, to the point that some people find them a nuisance, so you may even be able to find a local friend, relative, or neighbor more than happy to share some from their yard.

If you can’t find any fresh, I’ve also given alternate directions using dried black walnut powder instead. The final color of the salve depends on if you use fresh or dry hulls, and what type of oil is used for the infusion, but all methods can be effective!

basket of black walnuts beside basket of shiitake mushrooms

For more information on how to ID, harvest, and process black walnuts, plus more herbal uses besides salve, check out the article my daughter and I wrote for our family’s website:

Harvesting & Drying Black Walnuts (+hull & leaf uses!)

A Note About Color Variations

Before you can make the salve, you must first make an infused oil.

If you use coconut oil + green hulls for the infusion, your salve will be a deep, almost blueish-green. (Coconut oil also makes a firmer salve in cold temperatures.)

row of black walnut salves demonstrating color changes depending on oil type and freshness of hull
The color of your salve can vary widely depending on oil type, and freshness of the hull.

If you use olive, sunflower, or other liquid oil + green hulls for the infusion, your salve will be more of a yellow-olive green.

If you use dried black walnut powder + any type of oil for the infusion, your salve will have a gray charcoal-like color.

Make the Infused Oil

To make an infused oil with fresh hulls:

  1. Break up pieces of fresh green hull newly harvested from black walnuts. (Wear gloves – this part stains your hands!)
  2. Fill a pint jar about half-way with the pieces of hull.
  3. Cover the hulls with your favorite oil or combination of oils, until the jar is almost full. Something light, such as apricot kernel, rice bran, or sweet almond oil soaks in nicely, or you may want the added anti-fungal benefits of coconut oil, or you can stick with classic olive oil.
  4. Place the uncovered jar down into a saucepan containing several inches of warm water.
  5. Place the pan on a medium-low burner and gently heat for about 2 to 3 hours.
  6. If the water starts simmering or bubbling, it’s too hot and the heat should be reduced.
  7. After 2 to 3 hours, remove from heat.
  8. You could use the oil right away, but I like to lightly cover it with cheesecloth or a scrap of old t-shirt held in place with a rubber band (to allow space for extra moisture to evaporate) and set it aside in a warm spot and let it infuse an additional 5 to 7 days for a stronger infusion.
  9. Strain and use the oil in salves or other skincare products.
  10. The finished oil will be a deep dark green or yellow-green, depending on oil type used, and will smell of black walnuts.
  11. Shelf life is around 9 months to 1 year if stored in a cool dark spot.

If you don’t have fresh black walnuts, try using 1 tbsp black walnut hull powder infused into 1 cup of oil, using the same method as above. Stir the oil several times as it infuses, to ensure that the powder doesn’t settle into one clump in the bottom of the jar.

Now that you’ve made the oil, you can use it as is, and rub on your skin as needed, but it’s a lot easier to use if you turn it into a salve.

tins of black walnut salve beside basket of freshly fallen nuts

Black Walnut Salve Recipe

There are several essential oil options to consider for this recipe, so I’ll share some suggestions below for you to choose from. When made with fresh hulls, the salve has a strong scent, so essential oils not only add extra benefits, but will help mellow the overall scent profile.

Yield: 4 ounces of salve

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine the infused oil and beeswax into a heat proof jar or melting container.
  2. Set the jar into a pan containing several inches of water.
  3. Place the pan over a medium-low burner and allow the heat to gently melt the beeswax.
  4. Once melted, remove from heat.
  5. Stir in the essential oils of choice, then pour into containers.
  6. This batch will fill about 2 1/2 two-ounce tins, depending on how fully you fill the tins.
  7. Let cool and cover with the top/cap.
  8. Label and store in a cool dry spot. Shelf life is around 1+ year.

FREE RESOURCE

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HERBAL SALVES & BALMS

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Essential Oil Choices for Your Salve

Here are a few essential oils to consider using in your salve – feel free to adapt to your personal needs! I personally like adding clove to this salve since it complements the scent and adds an extra antifungal punch, but it shouldn’t be used on kids under 10 or anyone with extra sensitive skin.

A 2% dilution rate for this 4 ounce recipe is 48 total drops of essential oil. (Keeping in mind for clove EO, don’t go over 0.6% – or for easier calculations, 0.5%. Three drops of clove is plenty in a salve this size.)

See my article: Essential Oil Dilution Chart & Skin Care Product Usage Rates, if you’d like to increase the amount of essential oil used.

Essential OilBenefit, Notes
Clove Bud/Leaf (Syzygium aromaticum)antifungal, antibacterial, helpful for infectious sores, athlete’s foot, numbs pain, has a warming, spicy scent, use sparingly, no more than 0.6% dilution rate, not for kids under 10 or extra sensitive skin
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)gentle, calming, soothes inflammation, irritation, adds a pleasing herbaceous floral scent
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)antiseptic, antifungal, used for ringworm, warts, scabies, athlete’s foot, bug bites, has a softer scent profile than tea tree
Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)reduces inflammation, helpful for boils, athlete’s foot, fungal-related itching, eczema, don’t use if pregnant or nursing
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)resinous antiseptic scent, strong antifungal, antimicrobial, may help psoriasis, ringworm, boils, acne, athlete’s foot, fungal infections, check with doctor before using if pregnant
salve on arm, before and after rubbing in, demonstrating that black walnut salve won't stain skin
Demonstrating that black walnut salve won’t stain your skin!
Will black walnut salve stain your skin?

No, once the hull has been infused into oil, it won’t stain your skin. (However, fresh black walnut hulls that have not been infused into oil will certainly stain!)

References & Further Reading

Plant Therapy Website. Essential Oils for Kids.

Purchon, Nerys and Lora Cantele. The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness.

Tisserand, Robert and Rodney Young. Essential Oil Safety, Second Edition.

Wormwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.

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8 Comments

  1. Thank you for this great article and recipe, Jan. My grandparents in CT used to have black walnut trees, so this brought me back to curing and cracking and picking the nuts with them. Imma see if I have any neighbors with walnuts on the ground I can glean and give this a try. I appreciate your clear directions. :)

      1. Do you infuse all your herbs, flowers and hulls like that where you let them sit for a few days to further infuse or just with this one in particular?

        1. Hi Tara! If I’m infusing the warm way, with a pot of water, then I do often like to let it sit an additional amount of time whenever possible, to make sure the oil is nice and strong. Sometimes if you’re in a hurry to make something you need sooner though, it’s okay to go ahead and use the amount you need, then retop the oil and let it infuse longer. The longer infusion time makes an extra nice oil though! :)

  2. Glad to have another thing to do with black walnuts besides nocino! I don’t have a taste for the nuts, or the energy to break them open, but my late husband and I planted about 14 of them 20 years ago. So yay!

  3. Two questions –
    1 I had sooo many green walnuts last month that I picked up and threw in ditch. I was able to rescue some but they are turning black already. Can they be used?

    2. The beeswax – can I use actual beeswax from a hive? I know a local beekeeper that I get honey from. Or are the pastilles necessary?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Cindy! Yes, you could you the blackening walnuts. I’ve read that past herbalists actually preferred the blackened ones, but over time, it became preferred to use the green ones. So my feeling is that both types would work! :)
      Yes, you can use beeswax from the hive. Just grate the beeswax and use as normal. For that, I’d aim to use the weight measurement, since gratings have a different volume than standardized pastille size.

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