How to Make Purple Dead Nettle Salve (3 recipes)

Learn how to make helpful herbal salves using purple dead nettle and other beneficial plants.

silver tin of green salve surrounded by fresh purple dead nettle plants

Purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) is an edible weed that pops up in yards and gardens in early spring.

You might often see it growing near henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), which is said to be its closest look-a-like. (They both have purple flowers and grow around the same time.)

If you’re a beginner forager, make sure your purple dead nettle has flowers and purple tops before gathering to ensure you’re getting the correct plant.

More information on identifying can be found at:

Looking for more creative ways to use purple dead nettle?

Check out my article, 9+ Things to Make with Purple Dead Nettle.

Grow Forage Cook Ferment also has a nifty purple dead nettle info sheet you can download!

Photo below: On the left is henbit, on the right is purple dead nettle.

henbit beside purple dead nettle in a wooden bowl

And here’s a photo of both growing out in my garden.

henbit and purple dead nettle, growing side by side

While its nutritious leaves can be used in salads, pesto, and smoothies, purple dead nettle’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties also make it a good candidate to include in salves and balms.

What’s a salve?

Salves and balms are soft spreadable preparations for your skin consisting of herbal infused oils and beeswax (or another wax.) They can be applied to help heal, soothe, or improve various skin or health conditions.

In this article, I’m sharing three salve recipe ideas:

  • Basic Purple Dead Nettle Salve
  • Purple Dead Nettle First Aid Salve
  • Purple Dead Nettle Aches & Pains Salve

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

Some links on this site are affiliate links. I may earn a commission for purchases made. As a site sponsor, Mountain Rose Herbs generously provided the ingredients needed to make and share these salves. :)

purple dead nettle plants drying on a piece of wax paper

How to Make the Infused Oil

By steeping an herb in oil, we can extract its beneficial properties for our use in salves, balms, and other products.

To dry purple dead nettle, spread the plant pieces out in a single layer over a dish towel, paper towel, or wax paper and allow to air dry for several days. We’re using dried plant material here, since fresh plants are more likely to spoil when mixed into oil.

There are a few ways to infuse oil, we’ll cover a quick way and slower way.

The Quick Infusing Method

This method works best if you don’t have the time or desire to wait a few weeks for infused oil.

  1. Fill a glass canning jar 1/4 to 1/2 of the way with crumbled up dried purple dead nettle. (You can also mix in other dried herbs such as calendula, yarrow, etc – see the salve recipes below for ideas.)
  2. Fill the jar almost to the top with your chosen oil – olive or sunflower oil can be good for most skin types. For a slightly lighter feel, try apricot kernel or rice bran oil. You can also mix and match your favorite oils.
  3. Set the uncovered jar down into a saucepan containing a few inches of water, forming a makeshift double boiler of sorts.
  4. Place the pan over a low burner and heat for around 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Don’t allow the water to evaporate out of the pan, and monitor the oil while it’s heating.
  6. Remove from the heat and strain out enough oil for your recipe when needed. You can top off the jar with more oil and allow it to continue infusing the slow way until needed again.
  7. Store the remaining infused oil in a dark spot or cabinet out of direct sunlight and heat. Shelf life should be about 1+ year.

The Slower Traditional Infusing Method

This way requires more patience and time, but results in a strongly infused and lovely oil.

Repeat steps 1 and 2 above, and fill a jar with crumbled dried purple dead nettle (and any extra herbs you’d like to include) and oil.

Instead of infusing over heat, you’ll put a lid on the jar and tuck it away in a cabinet or on a shelf and let it infuse for at least 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember to.

Strain out the oil needed for your recipe.

tin of purple dead nettle salve on a gray soapstone soap dish surrounded by fresh purple dead nettle plants

Basic Purple Dead Nettle Salve

This is an ultra-basic salve that contains just 2 (or 3) ingredients. It can be used on itchy, dry, irritated, chapped, or sore skin.

Yield: about 2 ounces of salve

Ingredients

How to Make

  1. Combine the infused oil and beeswax in a heatproof jar or container.
  2. Place the jar down into a saucepan with a few inches of water, forming a double boiler.
  3. Heat over medium-low heat until completely melted.
  4. Remove from heat and add the lavender essential oil, if using.
  5. Pour into a 2-ounce tin or glass jar.
  6. Let cool before putting the top on the container.
  7. Store in a cool dry place.
  8. Shelf life is at least 1 year.
salve in a gold tin, surrounded by fresh purple dead nettle plants in a wooden bowl

First Aid Salve with Purple Dead Nettle

This is a general all-purpose first aid salve that features purple dead nettle plus calendula flowers and/or plantain leaves and/or yarrow.

Calendula (Calenduala officinalis) has antiseptic, anti-itching, and anti-inflammatory properties. (It’s sometimes called pot marigold, but shouldn’t be confused with regular marigolds. Here’s a good article on the difference between calendula and marigold flowers.)

Plantain (Plantago major) is a common leafy weed found in many backyards and driveways. It cools, soothes, and moistens and is one of the best herbs for skin irritations, cuts, bug bites, and scrapes.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and is helpful for minor wounds and cracked damaged skin.

You can buy high quality organic dried calendula flowers, yarrow, and plantain leaves at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Yield: about 2 ounces of salve

Ingredients

How to Make

Follow the directions above for making Basic Purple Dead Nettle Salve.

tin of salve beside wooden bowl filled with purple dead nettle beside bottles of tamanu oil, pepeppermint and rosemary essential oil

Aches & Pains Salve with Purple Dead Nettle

This salve features purple dead nettle, arnica, and comfrey, though you could also include goldenrod, daisy, and/or dandelion flowers if you’d like.

I also included tamanu oil – which is fantastic for soothing all sorts of skin problems and achy/sore situations.

Arnica (Arnica montana) is an anti-inflammatory herb that’s traditionally used to treat swelling, bruising, sore muscles, and arthritic joints.

Comfrey root (Symphytum officinale) can be helpful for bruising, pulled muscles, sprains and strains. (Comfrey leaf can be used as well.)

Yield: About 2 ounces of salve

Ingredients

How to Make

Follow the directions above for making Basic Purple Dead Nettle Salve.

References and Sources:

Purple Dead Nettle & Henbit – University of Tennessee Extension Website

Five New Phenylethanoid Glycosides from the Whole Plants of Lamium purpureum L – compounds in Purple Dead Nettle have potent free radical scavenging activity

Antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of some medicinal plants from the Lamiaceae. (including Purple Dead Nettle/Lamium purpureum)

In vivo anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive actions of some Lamium species. Several Lamium species have been used to relieve pain in arthritic ailments in Turkish folk medicine.

Antimicrobial properties of calendula (multiple studies)

Medicinal Plants Used in the Treatment of Inflammatory Skin Diseases

Making Plant Medicine, Richo Cech.

Looking for more creative ways to use flowers and herbs? Check out my Big Book of Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home!

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Jan
 

Jan Berry is a writer, herbalist, soapmaker, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family and a menagerie of animals, where she enjoys brainstorming creative things to make with the flowers and weeds that grow around her.

  • Jan says:

    I have a yard full purple dead nettle and knew it had good propertys for health reasons, i would like to make more things from this plant and was excited to receive your news letter. Thank you

  • Lisa Harris says:

    Hi Jan, thank you for this great info! One question, are Comfrey leaves okay to use instead of the root? I’m happy to see Purple Dead Nettle, it means Spring isn’t far off! Thanks again, Lisa

    • Jan says:

      Hi Lisa, Thanks for such a great question! Yes, you can use the leaves too. I just went in and updated the post. Thank you for the reminder to include them! :)

  • Debbie says:

    Jan can North American Nettle leaf be used I just ordered it from Mountain Rose (Urtica dioica) I am interested in making thie nettle salve but wanted to use the right herb. Thanks for your blog

  • Beth says:

    I am drying out my Purple Dead Nettle as I type this and look forward to making my first batch.
    I saw another posted about a News Letter and I’m wondering where I sign up

  • Lindsey says:

    Do you think one could use coconut oil instead of beeswax?

  • Lauren says:

    So excited to try this! Just foraged a huge batch of purple dead nettle today. For drying – do you remove the leaves and flowers from the stem before infusing? Or do you dry and infuse the whole thing? Thank you ♥️

  • laura says:

    thanks for the article. are you just using the leaves of the plant? dried? and can you use henbit I have some of that too. Thank you

    • Jan says:

      Hi Laura! I use the whole tops of the plant, dried. You could throw in a little bit of henbit if you’d like to use both plants, though I’m unsure if it has the potency of purple dead nettle. :)

  • Laurie Crippen says:

    Was wondering how you got that beautiful color green. I used apricot kernel oil to step the dried purple dead nettle so the oil was a yellowish. What oil did you use? Thank you!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Laurie! That lovely color comes from the tamanu oil. It gives products such a soft pretty hint of green and is amazing for your skin too! :)

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