You might know salves as effective ointments in moisturizing your skin and protecting it from future damage. However, there's so much more salves can do. Keep reading as we break down what is a salve and how it compares to other ointments out there.
What Is a Salve?
A salve is essentially something you apply to your skin to heal it. Salves can be a cream, ointment or balm.
Salves are made out of waxes and oils to make a material that is semi-solid. Salves stay thick and stable because they usually don't contain any liquid unless a tiny tincture is added.
What Are Salves Made out Of?
Some oils that might be in a salve include sweet almond, coconut, sunflower, apricot, and olive oil. Each oil has various properties that make the salve unique.
Coconut oil contains saturated fats that help keep the skin moist, while apricot oil can have anti-inflammatory properties.
Animal fats used to be found in salves, and we are seeing more animal oils today which are also referred to as "tallow". Beeswax is another commonly used wax to bind salves together. You might also see salves with waxes like carnauba and candelilla.
Why Use Salves?
Salves are multi-functional and have many purposes, and this is mostly because of the ingredients in these products. You can use a basic salve to help heal dry skin, chapped lips, and even diaper rash. Salves also work to help soothe sunburn, eczema, and cuts and scrapes.
If you want to use a salve for a specific purpose, it's a good idea to find a salve with oils, waxes and or herbs that are ideal for the ailment you're trying to heal.
Of course, if you intend to use your salve for a specific purpose, you can choose oils and waxes accordingly and infuse herbs in the oil for a medicinal punch.
The Purpose of Herbs in Salves
You might notice that most salves are infused with various herbs. These herbs can serve a purpose to heal various ailments. Let's break it down.
This type of balm is ideal for insect bites, as it helps reduce swelling. Lemon balm is known to be antiseptic and antiviral. You can even use the herb for a relaxing effect or as an antispasmodic.
This herb doesn't just pair well with roasted potatoes. You can use rosemary to heal headaches and acne.
Rosemary can even alleviate pain from aching muscles and joints. This herb can also be used to relive an itchy scalp and dandruff.
This herb has all-around healing abilities. You can use calendula for inflamed or dry skin as well as acne, diaper rash, and wounds.
Plantain is one of the best poultice herbs and is often called "the green bandage." Which might explain why it's great for healing wounds.
You may already know that lavender helps with relaxation, sleeping, and insomnia. This herb is also great for healing burns, bug bites, eczema, muscle pain, diaper rash, and is even anti-fungal.
This herb is great for fighting acne and itching, as well as helping to heal cuts and scrapes. You can also use Melaleuca as a natural insect repellent.
Peppermint doesn't only make your breath smell nice. This herb is also used as a decongestant, and pain and fever reducer. It's also great to soothe itching, insect bites, and skin irritations.
If a salve has this herb in it, then use this ointment for minor sprains and cuts, bruises, pain, sprains, and sore muscles.
Similar to comfrey, you can also use arnica in salves to help alleviate strains, bruises, and muscle pain.
This herb is ideal for scrapes, sore muscles, and healing cuts.
Balms vs. Salves
Balms and salves are sometimes used interchangeably, and we can see why. Both ointments are oil-based, with no water, can be applied topically, and usually contain a blend of oils and or essential oils.
Balms and salves should both be non-toxic, simple, and natural medications that are easy to travel with and can be used for a wide range of skin issues. Most balms and salves will be made out of some sort of herbally infused oil. Now let's get into their differences.
Balms tend to be harder and thicker than salves. Which usually means they contain more beeswax with a one-to-one ratio of beeswax to oil. Since balms have more wax, they will form more of a barrier to the skin.
This means balms can be stored in deodorant and or lip containers because they are firmer and can retain their shape when hardened. Since balms are thicker than salves, you will need to rub balms onto the skin with more force. This consistency makes balms better for treating sore muscles
Salves, on the other hand, will have a softer consistency. Which means they likely contain less beeswax and will have more of a one-to-four ratio of wax to oil. There also might not be any beeswax at all in salves, where there will almost always be beeswax in a balm.
Since salves have a softer consistency, they can penetrate the skin more deeply. This makes salves more ideal for healing wounds.
Other Similar Ointments
There's also butters like cocoa, mango, and shea which are known for their consistency and healing effects. Then there's beeswax on its own which is firm and thick and works as a strong barrier keeping both moisture and its medical benefits in while keeping everything else out.
Beeswax tends to work best for kids who are always running around and fidgeting. As this ointment is a good way to keep medicine on your child no matter how active they are.
Start Using Salves Today
Now that you know what is a salve and how effective salves can be, start incorporating these ointments into your skincare routine. Find a salve that is right for you today and get smooth, glowing and healed skin. For more resources on health and wellness, check out our blog!