How to Make Pain Relief Salve


*This salve is available for purchase in my on-line store!*

Real Traditions

We went on our first hike of the spring this past weekend and I can tell you, this salve works! The day after our hike I had shin splints and very sore shoulders (from carrying our 16-month-old on them for part of the hike), so we decided to test out my new salve recipe. I put the salve on my left shin splint and my left shoulder, then I rubbed my right shin splint and right shoulder for the same amount of time, but without the salve. I didn’t want the short massage to skew the test results. πŸ˜‰

About 20 minutes after applying the salve, my left shin and shoulder began to feel a bit better. Within an hour, they felt almost completely normal! By the next morning, my entire left side was pain-free, but the right side is still very sore and stiff. Since my experiment is over, I just applied the salve to the right side, too. My hubby used the salve on an old foot injury and had the same results, so it seems to work well on joint pain as well as muscle and tendon pain.

Here are the herbs I used:


Arnica should not be used on open wounds, so please don’t apply this to cuts or scrapes. If you have an open wound with a bruise around it, it’s okay to apply the salve around the open wound, just not directly on it. Arnica relieves pain when applied topically. It is also believed to be an anti-inflammatory and to heal injuries. People have used it for a long time for muscle pain and injuries, joint pain (such as arthritis) and any kind of injuries with swelling.

St. John’s Wort

Although most of us have heard of taking it for depressions, few people seem to know about the wonderful external benefits of St. John’s Wort. It is an anti-inflammatory herb with healing properties. It has been used for burns, back/spine pain, bruises, swollen glands and open wounds. Like arnica, it reduces pain. Some people have even reported benefit from using it internally and externally for nerve pain.


This herb is so wonderful for injuries that I keep some comfrey salve on hand all the time! It heals pretty much any kind of injury you can throw at it and it has the added benefit of having some pain-reducing effects. I like to keep plain comfrey salve on hand for open wounds, but it’s even better for relieving pain and promoting healing in injuries without broken skin when mixed with the two herbs above! *Note: You can learn to make your own comfrey salve or buy it ready-made from me.*

What You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup Arnica Flowers: As with all my other herbs, I buy or grow organic. I feel it’s important to avoid the toxins in pesticides.
  • 1/2 cup Comfrey Leaf: I prefer the leaf, but comfrey root would work well, too.
  • 1/2 cup St. John’s Wort
  • 2 cups oil: I like grapeseed oil or almond oil.
  • 3 ounces beeswaxΒ pastilles,Β by weight: feel free to use more or less, based on the consistency you would like.
  • Two-quart jar.
  • Small rag.
  • Saucepan or crockpot.
  • Fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter.
  • Containers for the finished salve.

What To Do

  1. Before beginning, make certain that all your tools and containers are very clean.
  2. Put the herbs into the jar and pour the oil in until the jar has just 1 1/2 inches open space at the top.
  3. Apply the lid, tightly, and place the jar in the large pot on top of the dishrag (this keeps the jar from breaking).
  4. Fill the pot with water up to two inches from the top of the jar and turn the burner on low (if using a crock pot, turn it to low or medium).
  5. Allow the herbs to infuse into the oil for at least 12 hours, up to 24. Do not allow the water to simmer and keep adding water as needed by adding hot water to maintain the water level. (*Don’t add cold water or your jar could shatter!*)
  6. Once the oil is medium to dark greenish-yellow, put the beeswax into a medium saucepan.
    (*NOTE: For the salve I sell and make for my family, I strain the herbs out, then add an entirely new batch of herbs and repeat the infusion process. That makes the salve double-strength.*)
  7. Pour the oil through the fine mesh strainer lined with the coffee filter or tea towel into the saucepan with the beeswax.
  8. Turn the heat onto low and whisk until all of the beeswax has melted, then remove immediately from the heat.
  9. Ladle or pour the oil into your chosen containers and allow to cool for 24 hours, then apply the lids. (*note: I’ve noticed that if I leave the salve to solidify in a warmer room, it doesn’t turn out looking quite as smooth as when I put it in a cooler room. The effectiveness isn’t affected, either way.)
  10. Keep the salve in a cool, dark place.

This recipe could be adapted to make a cream or an even lighter lotion, so let me know if there is any interest in a recipe for that or in having me carry it in my on-line store! πŸ™‚

*This salve is available for purchase in my on-line store!*

17 thoughts on “How to Make Pain Relief Salve

  1. Jazzy says:

    Can I put my slow cooker on warm since the low setting seems to cook fast overnight , I figure the water wont run out so fast than I don’t have to keep getting up to fill it.

      • Wonderful , going to get these herbs and make some soon! I got my comfrey salve yesterday I keep rubbing it my sore areas on my arm and my foot but I do want to try this pain relief salve .

  2. Rebecca Miller says:

    I would love a lighter recipe. I would love any recipe you come up with. I make the mag cream and we love it. Do you have a lighter version of that one? And can I use coconut oil for the oil in this one or was there a reason you chose the ones you chose? Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Sorry for the delayed replay. I’ve been swamped! πŸ™‚

      I’m so thrilled that you’re enjoying the magnesium cream! In my store, I’m now selling a much lighter version, which uses 3 parts grapeseed oil and 1 part coconut oil. People are loving it, so you might want to try that.

      For this recipe, You could use coconut oil, but you’d want to cut way back on the beeswax… maybe down to 1/4 of the amount listed. It will be a heavier texture than when you use grapeseed oil and beeswax, but it would still work just fine. I use the grapeseed oil and beeswax because that amount of beeswax makes it a lot less likely to melt in warmer climates.

      I will be testing out a lighter version of this recipe as soon as I can.

      Thanks so much!

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Victoria! I hope you really enjoy this salve. I’m sure it will be very helpful in a house with two little ones. Just a couple of days after I made it, my 18-month-old figured out how to climb onto the kitchen chair… then she fell right off and hit her forehead on the floor. There was a little bump and it was very red, but I put pain salve on right away and within the hour there was no sign of the bump. She never bruised even the slightest bit- but she did decide to be more careful about climbing on the chairs! πŸ˜‰

  3. Karen says:

    I’m going to need to order the St. Johns Wort and the arnica flowers. About how many ounces are in the 1/2 cup? Should I buy the 4 oz sizes?

  4. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing your recipe. I recently fractured a vertebrae in my neck. Hope this helps the healing process.

    • Hi Carol,
      I’m guessing you mean “2 qt jar” and I assure you that it isn’t overkill. In fact, once the dried herbs swell up from the oil, it’s quite full. πŸ™‚ As for how many ounces, I didn’t measure by ounces. You can see in the instructions how many cups to use for each. Thanks

  5. Pam Deguire says:

    Just for clarification, do you leave the oil in the jar on low to infuse with herbs for 12 hours? Or how long do you leave the jar in the pot on low?

    • In my experience, you should leave the herbs in the oil on very low (do not allow the water to simmer) for at least 12 hours and up to 24 (especially if using a crock pot). πŸ™‚

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