Making your own salve is simple and fun! And it is really a two for one project, since the first step is making an herbal oil!
We chose comfrey in this recipe for its fantastic ability to heal wounds, sprains, bruises, torn muscles and ligaments, and heal bones (comfrey is also known as knitbone) when applied topically. Comfrey has a cooling and moistening energy with a mineral taste. This is a wonderful salve to have on hand the next time your horse has a traumatic injury.
You can also substitute many other wonderful herbs. Have fun trying different combinations. Some ideas are calendula for healing skin and wounds, plantain for bug bites, add lavender to either or combine all three. You can learn more in the book Equine Herbal and Energetics.
Comfrey has been used for many years internally and externally. Research has identified pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) in comfrey, the roots have the highest concentrations with leaves having less. These PA’s have been shown in very rare cases to cause veno-occlusive disease (VOD), an irreversible liver disease in humans. Many herbalists now choose to only use comfrey externally, which is great, since comfrey is a fabulous herb for trauma injuries. Avoid using this salve on puncture wounds as comfrey could heal the wound to quickly, possibly trapping infection.
Coconut, sesame or sunflower oil (Coconut has to be at 76 degrees Fahrenheit to liquify)
Vitamin E (the sunflower base is best)
Dried Comfrey cut and chopped (dry is more concentrated, fresh can be used but needs to be wilted to minimize mold growth.)
The easy folk method for making this oil is 1 part herb to 5 parts oil. Place the dried Comfrey in a jar and cover with the oil. Place the lid on the oil. Then allow the jar to sit for about 4 weeks, shake once daily and add more oil if needed, as the dry herbs can soak up the oil. (If using fresh, chop well and the ratio 1 part herb to 3 parts oil) Add 500 IU of vitamin E per ounce of oil.
The other quicker method is to place the herbs and oil in a pot. Allow to simmer on low temperature for 30-60 minutes. A double broiler is nice to use and minimizes you getting the oil to hot. Once the oil has cooled to lukewarm, add the Vitamin E at a rate of 500 IU per ounce of oil.
At this point your oil is now infused with Comfrey and ready for the next step of straining off the herb material. Place a cheesecloth lined colander over a bowl. Allow it drain for a few minutes, you can squeeze out the excess oil by encasing the plant material in the cheesecloth and squeezing to make sure you get all of your oil.
Fill the jar so there is little to no air space (this minimizes rancidity) cap tightly and store in a cool, dry place. (Always check your oil before use and if it becomes cloudy or smells rancid, discard the oil.)
Now that your herbal oil is finished, you are ready for the next step to turn it into a salve.
Place a few ounces of herbal oil into your pan, heat on low for several minutes. Add the grated beeswax at a rate of one tablespoon of beeswax to each ounce of oil. Stir gently until the wax is melted.
A good way to test consistency is to place a spoonful of the oil mixture in the freezer for a few minutes. The salve once cooled should not be runny. If it is add a bit more beeswax and retest.
Pour the salve into sterile small wide mouthed jars. Cap tightly.
Your salve is now ready to use!