Balm/Salve BASE Recipe

Balms and salves are old, traditional household remedies. They’re so useful and effective, you’ll find some sort of balm or salve in most homes today. And they’re simple to make!

Here on this page, I’ll share the base recipe to make a balm and salve, and helpful information to help you make exactly what you’re looking for.

Before we dive into making, let’s connect on the terms and differences between a balm and salve.

Definition and Differences

Balms and salves are semi-solid ointments applied directly onto the skin.

Both are made from the same base ingredients, oil and wax, but the ratio of oil-to-wax is different.

Balms contain more wax. It’s firmer, more solid in texture. It’s more of an occlusive, which means it sits on the skin, absorbs slowly or not at all. Balms create a barrier over the skin that helps to seal in hydration, and protect from environmental stressors.

  • Balms are best for moisturizing protection

Salves contain less wax. It’s lighter, more spreadable in texture. It is more of an emollient, which means it absorbs into the skin. 

  • Salves are best for deeper and quicker healing, and for treating specific skin conditions.




  1. Adjust the percentage amounts to the size of your container, in terms of the amount of product that you want to make.
    • For example, to make a 4oz amount of balm the recipe would be:
      (75% of 4oz) oil + (25% of 4oz) wax
  2. Combine oil and wax together in a heat-safe container. For your setup, try using a metal bowl that can sit perfectly over a pot of simmering water.
  3. Leave it over simmering water, stirring well, until the beeswax melts into the oil.
  4. As soon as all of the beeswax has melted, take it off the heat and quickly pour into your container.
  5. Leave it to sit on the counter, with the lid off, to fully cool and harden.
Customization tips

You can use the base recipe as is – it’s something you can use all over, to help keep your skin soft and moisturized. It’s a good barrier-ointment to cover and protect the skin.

And you modify the recipe with ingredients that provide any specific benefits you’re looking for.

Here are some helpful tips to create a remedy for your exact needs and wants:

  1. Essential Oils: Add essential oils just at the end, when you’re about to remove the mixture from the heat.
    *Usage rate: Here is a great safety guide to follow for using essential oils: Robert Tisserand Dilution Chart
  2. Herbs: Use herbal infused oil to provide specific benefits and functions for the skin, the nervous system, circulatory system, lymphatic system, and muscular/skeletal system.
    *Usage rate: Replace up to full amount of oil with herbal oil.
  3. Colloidal oats: FDA approved skin-protective ingredient, that helps to soothe irritations, rashes, eczema and the like.
    *Usage rate: Add 2% into you recipe, any more than that, and the product starts to feel a bit gritty.
  4. Butters (solid fat): Replace any part of the oil portion with butter, to give your product more creaminess and structure – and more protective qualities to your skin. Butters act as an occlusive, which means it doesn’t penetrate the skin quickly (or at all). Butters form a physical barrier of protection over the skin. Shea, mango, cocoa butter are all popular butters used in balms and salves. Different butters provide different benefits and act differently on the skin. Experiment with different types of butters, and at different ratios, to get the feel that you prefer.
    • Usage rate: There is no maximum amount, but the more butter you add, the harder/firmer the product becomes and the more occlusive on the skin. As a starting point, try adding around 20-40% butter, and adjust your recipe from there to get the feel that you’re looking for.
    • Tip when using butter: Butters are often responsible for causing crystallization or graininess to happen. To prevent this, leave the mixture melting over heat for 30-minutes and set it in the refrigerator to cool quickly.
  5. Mica: Add a fun sparkle, or cosmetic color. You can make, for example, a colored balm for your lips, or glittery balm for your body. When sourcing micas, use synthetic or search for a brand that offers ethically sourced mica (there are humanitarian issues with how natural mica is mined)
    *Usage rate: The amount depends on how intense you want the color to be. Try adding 5% mica as a starting point
  6. Clean fragrance oils: You can make a perfume balm using cosmetic oils for fragrance. Look for “clean” fragrance oils that are free from the known irritants like phlatales and parabens. I’m very sensitive to fragrance, but I can tolerate and enjoy clean fragrance oils (I really like to add fragrance oils to my haircare especially!)
    *Usage rate: Usually around 1-3%. Follow the usage rate of the specific oil you are using.
  7. Vitamin E: Helps to stabilize the oil, and prevent your product from going rancid, especially good when using oils that have a shorter shelf life, like hemp oil for example. Add it in as part of the oil portion.
    *Usage rate: 0.5-1%

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