The first step in making a salve, is to infuse a base or carrier oil with herbal essence. If you’re using essential oils rather than fresh or dried herbs, just drop the essential oils into the carrier oil until you’re happy with it if you’re just making an oil, if you’re making a salve, you can wait to add the essential oils as part of the salve-making process. You should use dried herbs for this, or if using fresh herbs, clean them and lay them to dry until wilted. High water content increases the chance of mold growing on your salves or in your oils later.
Use a crockpot and a canning jar, or double boiler. Stainless steel, glass or enamel is best. Place the herbs in the top of the double boiler or the canning jar and pour in enough oil to cover, plus one inch. Put a few inches of water in your crockpot or the bottom of your double boiler. Heat it on the lowest setting for at least three hours. Avoid exposing the oil to light or allowing it to get warm enough to be uncomfortable to the touch. Heat and light will cause oils to go rancid quickly. For roots and woody herbs, you will need longer, at least five hours. Test by pouring a bit of oil onto your hand and using your senses to determine if it’s strong enough for you.
Let the oil cool completely, and then strain through a cheesecloth, squeezing as much oil out as you can.
1If you are just making a massage or anointing oil, you can stop here unless you wish to add essential oils, which you can do as soon as your oil has cooled. If you prefer a salve, do not add your essential oils just yet. They should always be added last, so that they don’t have a chance to evaporate. Continue on…
Add some beeswax to your pan and heat till melted, stirring constantly. Slowly add your infused a bit at a time. You will need less beeswax and more oil than you think. To test if your salve is thick enough, allow it to cool on a spoon. If it’s too soft, add more beeswax, too hard, add more oil.
Blend in essential oils and vitamins at the very end. Add some vitamin E for its skin smoothing properties, and as a preservative. Then pour into sterilized containers and seal.
Using Oils and Salves
These salves and oils can be used for several purposes. You may massage them into sore muscles, use them to smooth rough skin, or apply them to abrasions and other skin irritations or you may use them for ritual purposes.
Anointing oil can be used for several things during a ritual. It is most commonly associated with formal rites of passage, though it can also be used to augment your magical ritual and private worship. The oil may be simply daubed onto a person’s forehead, or you may wish to anoint various parts such as hands, feet, heart, womb, genitals, etc., depending on your particular path. Salves may be used just like oils for anointing and are perhaps neater.