Here we are again: exploring the utility, beauty, and healing powers of calendula! It is no secret that this medicinal herb is one of my favorite companion flowers to grow in the garden. With its strong anti-inflammatory properties and ability to soothe dozens of skin ailments, calendula is also a choice ingredient for personal wellness and natural beauty recipes. From salads and teas to oils or salves, we love to use calendula in any way we can!
Read along to learn how to make homemade calendula salve. If you’ve never made salve before, don’t worry! It is incredibly easy to do, and requires very few ingredients, steps, and supplies. The final result is beautiful, creamy, golden yellow calendula salve that will nourish, moisturize, and heal your skin. You can use calendula salve to treat dry skin, burns, rashes, eczema and more. Homemade calendula salve also makes for a very sweet DIY gift for holidays, special occasions, or just because!
New to calendula? Check out this article to explore how to grow, harvest, and dry calendula at home. It is a very low-fuss plant that can even be grown in containers and in a wide range of climates.
Healing Properties of Calendula
Calendula officinalis has been used by herbalists, homesteaders, and natural healers for centuries. It can be used both internally or externally to support the immune system, heal skin and infections. Calendula works its magic by promoting cell repair and growth, coupled with its natural antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Above all, it is gentle in its work. Unlike some natural remedies, you don’t need to worry about “overdoing it” with calendula.
The potent medicinal oils within calendula blooms are most concentrated on the sticky green base of the flower head. Resin is also present (but lesser so) on the petals themselves, which is why we choose to use whole dried flowers rather than plucked petals alone when making calendula-infused oil.
What can calendula salve be used for?
If you pay attention to labels, you’ll probably notice calendula as a key ingredient in many natural skin care products, and for a good reason! Topically, calendula salve can ease, heal, or otherwise treat a huge array of skin conditions. According to the Chestnut School of Herbs, this includes: rashes, sunburn, swelling, eczema, acne, stings, wounds, burns, scrapes, chicken pox, cold sores, and even genital herpes sores.
In her book “Medicinal Herbs, A Beginner’s Guide”, Rosemary Gladstar suggests using calendula salve or oil on babies to safely soothe cradle cap, diaper rash, or other skin irritations. (Be sure to check the safety of your chosen base oil for babies too!)
I personally love to use homemade calendula salve on my dry cracked cuticles after a day of digging in the dirt, or on scars, scrapes, chapped lips, and dry feet. It is a favorite daily hand moisturizer. I also find calendula salve or oil to be very soothing after shaving, to prevent or treat razor burn. Last but not least, calendula salve can also lessen the appearance of varicose veins and soften scars.
This homemade calendula salve recipe requires ready-to-use calendula oil. You can either make your own calendula-infused oil, or buy some here. If you’re interested in making homemade calendula oil check out this tutorial – and then come back when you’re ready. It is really easy and affordable to do! All you do is steep 100% dry calendula blooms (either homegrown or purchased dried flowers) in a chosen base oil to extract the medicinal resins, and then strain it. We prefer to use a long, slow infusion method (3 to 4 weeks) rather than heating calendula flowers in oil for a quick extraction. Preserving the beneficial properties of the blooms by reducing exposure to heat makes it well worth the wait, in my humble opinion!
Our calendula oil article also dives deep into a dozen different base oil options to use for your calendula oil. After all, various oils have unique textures (e.g. some are more or less “greasy”), different comedogenic ratings, and healing properties of their own. For this particular batch of calendula salve, we used calendula infused in organic jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is very similar to natural skin sebum and therefore soaks in quite nicely. Olive oil and almond oil are also excellent choices – though you could use any oil you please! Once you have calendula oil, it is very simple to turn it into calendula salve.
What is Calendula Salve
Maybe we need to step back a moment. How about, “what is a salve?”. A salve is simply the term for a healing solution that you put on your skin, including creams, ointments, or balms. Generally, salves are fairly thick, shelf-stable, and include nourishing oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, or others. Along with a base oil (or several), salves also typically contain natural waxes or butters to bind the ingredients and make them semi-solid at room temperature.
Beeswax is a popular binding agent because it is readily available, easy to work with (especially when purchased in pastilles), and creates perfectly smooth results. Not keen on beeswax? See the ingredient list below for recommended vegan substitutions. When calendula oil is used in a salve recipe… voila! You’ve got yourself some stellar calendula salve.
Supplies & Ingredients Needed to Make Calendula Salve
- 1 cup of calendula oil, or 8 ounces
- 3 to 4 tablespoons* of beeswax pastilles, or about 1 ounce if you’re using shaved, block, or other forms of beeswax. *If you opt to also add shea butter, use only 3 level tbsp of beeswax pastilles. However if you skip the shea butter, use 4 tbsp beeswax. (Vegan options: replace with soy wax or candelilla wax. I recommend organic soy wax, since conventional soy is notoriously pesticide-intensive.)
- Optional: 2 tbsp of shea butter. I personally like to add shea, but it isn’t required! Shea butter is highly moisturizing and rich in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants.
- Optional: essential oils of choice. Calendula has a mild earthy smell, but it is not extremely aromatic or floral on its own. Therefore, I like to add a few drops of certified organic lavender oil to my calendula salve for added soothing aromatherapy. Tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, lemon, or eucalyptus are also great choices! You only need a few drops of essential oils, as a little goes a long way!
- A double-boiler, or make-shift double boiler – such as a pot within a pot, or a glass pyrex bowl or stainless steel bowl perched on top of a saucepan with water below. The use of a double-boiler is important, to avoid overheating the calendula oil and thus reduce much of its healing potency!
- Small glass jars or salve tins, for storage. We used these 2-ounce amber glass jars for this particular batch, though we sometimes used larger 4-ounce jars too.
Makes: Just over 1 cup of finished salve (about 10 ounces).
Feel free to scale up or down as needed, depending on how much calendula oil you have. The general rule of thumb for salve is to use about 1 part of beeswax and butter to approximately 4-7 parts oil. A higher beeswax-to-oil ratio will result in a more firm salve, while going lighter on the beeswax will create a softer salve.
Are you ready? Because this is ridiculously easy.
- Have your salve tins, glass jars, or other calendula salve storage containers of choice ready and waiting.
- In the top portion of a double-boiler (or makeshift double-boiler), add 1 cup of calendula oil and 3 to 4 level tablespoons of beeswax (sliding scale notes above). Also add the optional 2 tablespoons shea butter and a few drops of essential oils now, if you choose to use them.
- In the bottom portion of your double-boiler, add enough water so that the top bowl or pot is in contact and resting in the water below.
- Heat the double-boiler over a medium-low heat on the stovetop. Remember, we want to avoid excessively heating the calendula oil more than what is necessary to melt the beeswax!
- Monitor and routinely stir the mixture until the beeswax (and shea butter) completely melts. Stir to ensure everything is thoroughly combined, and then remove from the heat immediately thereafter.
- While it is still hot, carefully pour the now-liquid calendula salve into your chosen containers. If it starts to solidify while you’re still filling containers, simply put it back on medium-low heat until it liquifies again.
- Set the full calendula salve containers aside (lids off) and allow them to fully cool.
- Enjoy healthy, moisturized skin! Use either clean fingers or a salve spoon to collect a small amount of salve, and apply to your skin as needed. A little goes a long way!
Storage & Shelf Life of Calendula Salve
Store your salve containers in a cool, dark place. I always keep one out and about for regular use, then stash the rest away in a cabinet. Homemade calendula salve can “stay good” for several years! However, its medicinal potency may decrease with extended time and age.
And that is how you make homemade calendula salve!
What a simple and beautiful process, right? I hope you found this tutorial to be interesting, useful, and inspiring – to go make your own healing calendula salve! Feel free to ask questions in the comments below and spread the love by sharing this article. Please stop by for a review once you whip up a batch of your own!
How to Make Homemade Calendula Salve
- A double-boiler, or make-shift double boiler (such as a glass pyrex bowl or stainless steel bowl perched on top of a saucepan with water below)
- Glass storage jars or salve tins
- 1 cup Calendula oil
- 3-4* tbsp Beeswax pastilles, or approximately 1 once if you're using shaved, block, or other forms of beeswax. *If you opt to also add shea butter, use only 3 level tbsp of beeswax pastilles. However if you skip the shea butter, use 4 tbsp beeswax. (vegan option: replace with the same amount of organic soy wax or candelilla wax)
- 2 tbsp Shea butter (optional)
- 4-5 drops Essential oils of choice (optional)
- Have your chosen salve tins or small glass storage jars ready and waiting.
- Add water to the bottom pan of your double-boiler. Now add 1 cup calendula oil, 3-4 tbsp of beeswax (see sliding scale notes above), optional shea butter and essential oils to the top section of the double-boiler.
- Heat the mixture on the stovetop over medium-love heat – only until the beeswax melts, and stirring frequently.
- As soon as everything melts and is thoroughly combined, remove from heat.
- While it is still hot, carefully pour the liquid salve into your chosen containers. (If it starts to solidify while you’re still filling containers, simply put it back on medium-low heat until it liquifies again.)
- Set the full calendula salve containers aside (lids off) and allow them to fully cool.
- The calendula salve will harden as it cools, and then it is ready to use. Use either clean fingers or a salve spoon to collect a small amount of salve, and apply to your skin as needed. A little goes a long way!
- Store your salve containers in a cool, dark location. Homemade calendula salve can “stay good” for several years. However, its medicinal potency may decrease with extended time and age.