Homemade First Aid: Skin Healing Calendula Salve


Carey Thornton, Seattle Tilth Educator

If you are lucky, calendula may be blooming in your garden with its cheerful yellow and orange blossoms. Calendula flowers have long been used as a traditional healing medicine as it soothes dry, irritated skin. Calendula can help regenerate skin cells when applied to a scratch or burn. You can harness the power of calendula and make a simple skin healing salve at home.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Seattle Tilth.


For calendula-infused medicinal oil

  • Fresh or dried calendula flowers 
  • Olive Oil
  • Large jar

For calendula salve

  • Medicinal oil
  • Pure beeswax
  • Double-boiler or small pan
  • 1-2oz pots or jars


For calendula-infused medicinal oil

  1. Harvest open flower heads of Calendula officinalis. Dry in a single layer in a dehydrator or very warm, ventilated room. Dry the flowers quickly to retain their bright color and medicinal properties. Flowers should be completely dry and crispy to the touch.
  2. Loosely pack a jar with dried flower heads so it is 3/4 full. Fill the jar with olive oil and cap tightly.
  3. Let calendula steep in oil out of direct sunlight, giving it a little shake whenever you pass by. After 3 to 4 weeks, strain and then bottle the oil.

For calendula salve

  1.  Prepare several 1 to 2 ounce pots or jars to hold your salve. Remove lids and place jars on a piece of cardboard to absorb drips.
  2. Warm one cup of medicinal oil (see instructions above) in a double boiler or in a small pan over very low heat. Add 1 oz. grated beeswax and stir to melt. Use the same ratio to make a bigger batch.
  3. Carefully pour the liquid salve into prepared containers and let harden before closing lids.
  4. Add personalized labels with ingredients and hints for use. Keep a jar in your first aid kit, in the garden shed, one in your purse and give a few as gifts!

If you make these recipes, please share stories and pictures with Seattle Tilth and Central Co-op on social media.

Carey joined us in the Rochdale Room in December 2015 to teach a class on making Herbal Salves and Infusions.

To make this salve, calendula oil was first drained into a bowl. You can also add other healing herbs to the mix before adding oil, like comfrey, renowned for its healing properties.

The plant pictured above, on the left, is narrowleaf plantain, a healing medicinal "weed" that may be growing in your backyard. If you harvest your own plants, be sure you can identify them with certainty, that they won't be overharvested, and that they grow in an area that's not exposed to toxic sprays, runoff, or car exhaust.

Carey filled 1oz jars with warm salve. The color will lighten as it cools and solidifies.

Dried chamomile and rosebuds ready for home medicine making, plus some leftover calendula oil.

Learn With Central Co-op and Seattle Tilth!

Want to learn more about home gardening, food preservation, and herbs? Central Co-op offers classes taught by expert Seattle Tilth educators, free to Co-op owners. Check our calendar for dates.

Seattle Tilth is building a sustainable and equitable local food system through hands-on garden, farm, food and environmental education & job training. www.seattletilth.org

Keywords: Herbalism, DIY

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