A simple comfrey salve…
…it’s powerful in so many ways!
Known for centuries and in ancient times as a wonderful healer.
In fact, Philip Fritchey in his book Practical Herbalism quotes the famous herbalist Culpeper when he speaks of comfrey, “It is said to be so powerful to knit together (wounds and broken bones), that if the root be boiled with dissevered pieces of flesh in a pot, it will join them together again.”
The Making of My Comfrey Salve
Comfrey is a strong plant and grows easily in the home garden.
Even here in the Desert Southwest, with great care, my comfrey grows. Although it much prefers moist conditions. (Note: Click this link to purchase organic seed to start your own comfrey plants.)
And this past summer — on a trip to visit my sister in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado — I was excited to find a patch of wild plantain growing beside a creek.
Together comfrey and plantain work to reduce a variety of skin irritations and encouraging cell growth…
…the balm made from these two plants is a perfect remedy for hard to treat diaper rash (you know the kind that nothing else will heal), eczema, burns, and psoriasis.
So after drying the two plant materials, I began the infusion process.
-1 quart glass mason jar
-double-boiler or small pot
–small kitchen scale
- plenty of good, quality organic olive oil
- 6 ounces dried comfrey leaves
- 3 ounce dried plantain leaves
- 4-6 ounces beeswax
Please note: For this salve — because I had the time — I decided to create a triple-infused herbal oil.
1. To begin, I combined 2 ounces of dried comfrey leaves and 1 ounce of dried plantain leaves in a quart-sized glass mason jar. Note: Use a small kitchen scale to measure the herbs.
2. Pour enough olive oil to cover the herbs, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
3. Leave on the counter to infuse for 4-6 weeks.
4. Strain oil through a cheesecloth. Reserve the herb-infused oil and compost the plant material.
5. For a double-infusion, repeat step 1 then pour the reserved herb-infused oil over the herbs (adding more oil if needed to bring 1/2 inch from the top of the jar). Infuse again for 4-6 weeks.
6. For a triple-infusion, repeat the process. Note: Click this link to read more about creating an herbal-infused oil.
7. After the final straining you should have anywhere from 24-32 ounces of herb-infused oil. Now it’s time for the beeswax!
8. In a small pot — or double boiler if you have one– over very low heat, add the herbal oil and beeswax. Depending on how hard you’d like your salve, the general rule is to add 1-2 ounces of beeswax per 8 ounces of oil (Note: These are all measurements by weight, using a kitchen scale). I suggest starting with the lesser amount of wax and adding more if needed. (Note: To check if the mixture is the right consistency, because the salve hardens as it cools, the wonderful Rosemary Gladstar suggests placing a “tablespoon of the mixture in the freezer for just a minute or two. If it’s soft, add more beeswax; if too hard, add more oil.”)
9. Once melted, pour the mixture into tins or glass jars. Note: These tins are my favorite!
10. An herbal salve prepared in this fashion should keep in a cool, dark place for up to 5 years.
Please Note: According to Philip Fritchey, a comfrey salve should not be used on those deep/puncture type wounds. This because it has the power to regenerate new cell growth over the top of the wound before it has had time to heal the deeper tissue. A salve such as this one or one made of calendula, goldenseal, or Oregon grape root may be more suitable for the treatment of deeper wounds.
-I believe that during these uncertain times – times of change – there are many individuals and families in search of an altogether different approach to treating minor illnesses and ailments. Click here to see my series on “Creating a Kitchen Pharmacy“ to help empower you on your journey to returning to the practice of home-based medicine.
-If you are at all interested in learning more about the specific function and usage of herbs…the following books are must-haves for your home library:
Where Can I Get This Stuff?
-Mountain Rose Herbs…they have everything (dried herbs, oils, and they even have the tins and glass jars) you’ll need for this remedy! It’s your one-stop-shop!
–The Bulk Herb Store also carries many of these ingredients if you’d like to price check.
-Raw and all-natural beeswax can be purchased here.
-I do have a very limited quantity of these salves available for sale in My Etsy Shop. If you are interested please click this link to see the listing.
Now it’s your turn! Do you make a comfrey salve? What other herbs do you include? How have you used it?
Add Yarrow to this and it’s even better. For all my salves I do 4 pts. infused oil to 1 pt. beeswax. If I have 2 cups oil I add 1/2 cup beeswax. Works for me. Makes it spreadable with the finger easily. Not necessary to buy any of the ingredients, you can grow all of them easily. I collect comfrey, plantain and yarrow from my yard and herb beds. Add St John’s Wort leaves and it makes it a good burn salve. Mine has been used as such with immediate results from the burning. Now not severe burns just minor ones. Love and keep all posts with homemade herbal salves. I ahve most all the plants here and NEVER use chemicals. Calendula petal infused oil is the best for diaper rash. Mine was used on a baby that only got changed once/twice per day and it almost cleared up his bad rash in 24 hrs. Keep posting the herbal remedies and beauty care items. I love them.
Tricia Kauffman says
Five years sounds like an awfully long shelf life without a preservative. My sister made a comfrey salve and it turned rancid after a few months. Would the addition of Vitamin E oil be a good idea? Sounds to me like it would be a natural preservative and also add to the skin healing properties. Another question: Would this be even better if made with a combination of comfrey, plantain, yarrow, and calendula flowers? Or would this be overkill? Third and final question: Could you substitute fresh herbs instead of dried? I have access to fresh comfrey and plantain, and would prefer to skip the drying process if using fresh is fine. And thanks for your wonderful posts!
Hi Tricia! Adding vitamin E oil is good idea and would likely add benefit to the salve. As for using fresh verses dried herbs…using dried herbs actually helps to prevent the infused oil/salve from going rancid. Fresh herbs add to much moisture to the oil increasing the risk for mold and such. And lastly, I think using herbs such as yarrow and calendula would make for wonderful addition! My goal with this salve was to make a simple — and very powerful — balm of comfrey:)
Tricia Kauffman says
Thanks, Andrea! I will get out my dehydrator and have my sister harvest a bunch of comfrey leaves from her garden. I will also be ordering from Mountain Rose Herbs. I had foot surgery almost two weeks ago and the surgeon informed me in recovery that he had to break my heel and cut and shave bones in order to put my foot back together. I want to have this salve ready for use as soon as the cast comes off. With comfrey being the “bone-knitting herb,” this post is very timely for me! Should I also be drinking comfrey tea in the meantime? The surgeon also made a huge incision down the whole front of my shin (I just discovered today!), I’m assuming to get ligaments to rebuild my foot. Is there a salve that would be good to minimize scarring?
Wow Tricia! What an ordeal! Here’s my post on exactly what I did to treat myself when I broke my toe this past summer: https://frugallysustainable.com/2012/06/how-to-mend-a-broken-toe-at-home/ Definitely not to the extent that you have endured but perhaps these tips will help you. I did make a comfrey tea (the specifics are in the article) and special salve. I’m sending healing thoughts your way…hoping that you will recover quickly:)
Elaine Pollard says
Vitamin E is not really a preservative, it is an antioxidant which will slow down rancidity, but it won’t keep out bacteria. If you keep our salves in a cool place they should last awhile. I’ve had a few that are 3 years old that I didn’t use anything other than essential oils in. They are a little over 3 years and still not rancid.
Tricia Kauffman says
Thanks, Elaine! I will add the Vitamin E AND make sure I store it in a cool dark place. My sister had hers outside in the summertime in Georgia. Mystery solved!
Lois Scott says
my father in law made comfrey salve before he died in 1999. We have two small baby food jars left. My family guards it like gold as it will heal diaper rash and skin irritation like nothing I have ever used before. He used Vegetable shortening and the bees wax instead of oil with the comfrey. The resulting salve spreads easily and is still as good today as it was when he made it. Also, it has no bad smell.
Adding a little raw honey to the salve mixture will not only add to the healing properties but it is also antimicrobial and will assist with preservation. It must be raw honey, not pasteurized, pasteurization kills off the very stuff that makes honey storable for thousands of years without going bad. Just add the honey to the mixture as it cools down, not while it is hot.
Southern Ladye says
Hi. I have a son who has horrible eczema and we have tried everything to clear it up this year and it has not helped, even the pine tar soap that I have been getting at the natural health food store that usually works is not touching it. I am desperately trying to find something that will work. I am thinking of purchasing some from you because I really don’t have that much time to make my own. My question is, how long would it be before we would start to see the benefits of using this salve on his skin and what is the potential allergic reaction? He has a lot of environmental and food allergies so I have to be super careful about what I put on his skin. The eczema is mainly how his allergies manifest themselves and I cannot pinpoint what is causing it this year!
Can you use comfrey powder instead of dried leaves?
Barbara K. says
I make comfrey oil from fresh comfrey leaves by chopping the leaves and adding an equal amount of canola oil or olive oil. (2cups chopped leaves to 2 cups oil). Simmer very slowly until comfrey leaves look dried (like tea leaves). Cool and strain leaves from oil and compost leaves. Add liquid from 1 vitamin E and 1 vitamin A per each 8 oz. of oil. I’m using liquid measure instead of weight. If one prefers salve, he could add beeswax as directed in previous recipe above. This stores better in small amber bottles or placed in a box and stored in a cool dark place. I sterilize and recycle amber prescription bottles.
I find this relieves pain from scrapes, minor burns, mosquito bites, fire ant stings, and wasp or bee stings. Works almost immediately.
Bee Girl says
Brilliant! Thanks, Andrea!
Thank you for the recipe and all the tips! Saved it to try and make 🙂
Catherine Brewer says
How much yarrow should you add? my husband and step daughter both have excema and would like to give this a try
Catherine Brewer says
How much yarrow should you add?
Thanks for this recipe!! I use comfrey salve on my horses whenever they have open skin- usually caused by playing with each other too rough. It really heals up the spot quickly. I’m really excited to be able to make this myself, because it’s a little hard to find. Pie and Johnny say thanks! 🙂
I made this and it stunk so bad – is this normal? It was so stinky I had to toss it out. Maybe I needed more beeswax to harden it more but it was really bad.
Could you make this into a spray? If so would you just add witch hazel and skip the bees wax or how would you go about making it thin enough to spray?
Estoy con psoriasis por varios meses y testado variedad
de tecnicas sin apenas acierto
My favorite Herb, made many Comfrey salves over the year. The root is more powerful than the leaf, just be careful with taking it in orally, as the plant and the roots have got alkaloids in them. You can easily make the salve leaving the root to simmer in lanolin for a couple of hours…(bowl in water)..
Chris Koch says
If you are ever in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, plantain is a plentiful wild herb that grows just about all over the place. If you see poison ivy, plantain will be growing very close to it. In fact, plantain is a natural cure for poison ivy.
Susan Martin says
I live in NW Pennsylvania. Two kinds of plantain grow wild in my yard. As far as the comfrey salve, I had heard to add lavender essential oil to it, I assume to make it smell better. Yes, comfrey does stink! When making salves if you would rather use fresh herbs then at least let them dry overnight, to reduce the water content in the plant. Also, use cold pressed oils as the carrier. Rosemary oil, I’ve heard, acts as a preservative. I would use it in a diaper cream, and always wash your hands before applying to keep the salve germ free. You could use something to get the salve out of the tin, other than your fingers, then use your fingers.
I started some plantago in olive oil last weekend, fresh from my yard. I washed it well, let it dry overnight, and chopped it the next morning. This weekend it is moldy and bubbling (fermenting?). Is this supposed to happen? Is this wasted, do I need to throw it out?
I make my confrey/plantain salve with olive oil and coconut oil, adding Vit. E and bees wax. As of yet I have had no smells or rancicity. I also add some Lavender essential oil. I love the calendula salve and have made some yarrow salve at a workshop. I also add my comfrey salve for my back and knee pains.
hi Cindy – would you mind sharing your recipe for comfrey/plaintain salve with olive oil and coconut oil? thanks 🙂
This might be a silly question, but has anyone tried using coconut oil in place of olive oil? It has antibacterial properties, and should last as long as olive oil…. right? You may not even need beeswax since it is a hardened oil when cool.
Just a thought. I’m planning on making a salve for MIL, who has been struggling to rid herself of a skin infection from a cat scratch over one year ago. It looks ugly like eczema now. So I am going to utilize the many plantain and comfrey plants around my house and hopefully it will help.
for Tonia regarding your horses .. do not put comfrey on an open wound especially if you dont know how clean it is or is not. comfrey proliferates skin growth as you know but if there is dirt / bacteria in the wound then new skin growth will then create an oxygen free area and it could get badly infected if the wound is not completely cleaned.
I’ve been makeing this wonderful salve. It started out with just coconut oil, comfrey root and bee’s wax. I have know add to it: coconut oil, comfrey root, arnica, calendula flower, and bee’s wax! What an awesome salve, it smells incredibly, and adding the calendula flower has made it silky!!
Do you recommend comfrey salve/ointment for shingles?