Elder Leaf Salve
This all-natural DIY elder leaf salve is easy to make and useful for treating bruises, strains, old injuries or wounds.
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The idea for this elder leaf salve came from one of my all-time favorite books, Making Plant Medicine, by Richo Cech.
He states that oils and salves made from fresh elder leaves “make a useful application to traumatic injuries, old burns, ulcerations or hemorrhoids.”
Kiva Rose (another highly respected herbalist) says: “Infused oil of the flowers or leaves makes a wonderful salve or ointment for all kinds of wounds, as well as bruises, sprains and strains.”
Normally, I shy away from making infused oils with freshly picked leaves or flowers, because the added water content makes them tend to spoil more easily. Since the leaves are abundant and free for the picking though, I’ve tried it both ways, to see which one I liked best. I found that the fresh leaf method made a much greener (and theoretically more potent?) salve, but I still prefer using wilted leaves, for a less-cloudy and longer-lasting oil infusion. Feel free to use whichever method you prefer.
Elder leaf-infused oil would also work great in a balm for aches and pains, but since the leaves have compounds which are toxic when ingested – avoid using it in lip balms, nursing balms or on a young child or other person who may inadvertently rub some in their mouth. (In short, don’t eat the leaves!)
To make this salve, you’ll first need to make an infused oil.
Wilted leaf method: Gather a handful of elder leaves and spread them out in a single layer overnight or up to 24 hours, until wilted and almost-dry. Place the leaves in a glass canning jar and cover with a light oil, such as olive, sunflower, coconut or sweet almond.
Fresh leaf method: Gather a handful of leaves and place them in a jar. Cover the leaves with an oil, such as: olive, sunflower, coconut or sweet almond.
Set the uncovered jar containing the oils and leaves down into a saucepan filled with a few inches of water, forming a makeshift double-boiler, of sorts.
Place the pan over a low burner and heat the oil for around 2 hours. Keep a close eye on things to make sure that the water doesn’t evaporate out of the pan.
After the infusing time is up, you can strain the oil and proceed with the recipe right away or you can cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth or scrap of old t-shirt (so any remaining moisture has room to escape) and let the oil infuse for several days, or even weeks, longer. If using fresh leaves, it’s best to let the strained oil settle out overnight and then carefully pour the good oil out, leaving behind the sludgy layer that settles to the bottom.
Once your oil has completely finished infusing to your satisfaction and has been strained, you’re ready to make your salve!
Elder Leaf Salve
- 3.5 oz (100 g) elder leaf infused oil
- 0.5 oz (14 g) beeswax pastilles
Place the oil and beeswax in a canning jar or heat-proof container. Set the jar down into a saucepan containing a few inches of water, forming a makeshift double boiler.
Set the pan over medium-low heat until the beeswax is melted. If you used a small canning jar for melting, you can use it for storing the salve as well.
This recipe will fill three of the 2 fl oz tins shown in the photo. (Tins were purchased from SpecialtyBottle.com.)
I recommend using a digital scale to make all of your herbal and cosmetic products, but understand that not everyone has one handy. If you’d like to make this by volume, the beeswax converts to roughly 1.5 tablespoons (grated or pastilles, packed very tightly in the spoon) and the oil measures out to be approximately 1/2 cup. You might need to tinker with the amounts of oil and beeswax, remelting the salve as needed, to get a consistency that you like.
*Important Note* Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have chronic health conditions, or questions or concerns about this or any other herbal home remedy. While this site does its best to provide useful information for others, any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk and not a substitute for medical, legal, or any other professional advice of any kind. Some links in this post are affiliate links, which helps support this site and keeps it ad-free. Thank you! :)
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