Herbal Black Drawing Salve Recipe That WORKS! (The How, Why, and What of Black Drawing Salves)
NOTE: This article is about black salve: What is it? How do you make a good drawing salve? And a recipe with pictures so you can make some at home yourself….
Homestead work is hard and ongoing. This week, we've been fencing, and sometimes the posts and railroad ties we use pierce our hands with slivers. Once in awhile, these go really deep too! Especially Mr. V.--as he is fond of working without gloves.
He had four different, deeply embedded splinters last week, pretty bad, and at least one was beginning to fester. I figured it was time to make another batch of Black Drawing Salve.
This drawing salve is so easy to make, and I try to keep it on hand all the time. You don’t always need it, but when you do, you really want it ready to go for first aid emergencies.
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What on Earth is Black Drawing Salve?
Black Salve, if made well, is an incredible remedy for helping remove slivers, toxins, impurities, and things that don't belong under the surface of your skin. It's useful on boils, wounds, embedded glass shards, cactus spines, or needle-like pieces of wood.
In addition, it's wonderful for speeding up the healing from bug and spider bites, ingrown hairs, and thorns.
It's also useful for acne and pimples! Cool, right?
Some people believe it is helpful for skin cancers, however, there are specific ingredients that need to be involved. My recipe for drawing salve is just a good old basic remedy that works for what it was meant to do: Drawing out things that don't belong in the skin.
How Does Black Drawing Salve Work?
Here is a bit of information about the ingredients in this recipe for black drawing salve and why they work:
The first is activated charcoal:
The activated charcoal has been used since ancient times as a detoxifier and purifier. It's what is often used when someone ingests a poison too.
The charcoal helps clean the wound and pull out the offending object.
Next up is the herb-infused oil:
I chose St. John's Wort, Comfrey, and Plantain for my version of drawing salve. Comfrey is well known to speed up wound healing (it's also known as knit-bone). Plantain and St. John's Wort are incredible healing herbs. And St. John's Wort is also great for helping soothe pain.
You may note in the picture I have lavender and calendula herbs also infused in this oil. It's what I had on hand, and these two herbs do add additional skin soothing and healing benefits.
The oil is also useful for helping to soften the skin around the splinter, which helps the body dispel the object much more quickly.
Castor oil is a viscous oil that has excellent anti-microbial properties. Therefore, it helps kill any bacteria that may cause infection.
Some folks feel any kind of clay is fine to use for drawing salve. However, different clays do different things, depending on their composition.
I prefer to use bentonite clay because it enhances the detoxification and drawing action of the activated charcoal.
Kaolin clay actually has hemostatic properties, so I don't recommend using it to draw out foreign objects. What you are trying to do with this salve is help the skin puncture open to allow pus, the objects, and any toxins to leave the wound.
The clay also helps thicken the salve.
The beeswax is not only healing to the skin, but it is what creates the "salve," or ointment feel of this topical herbal remedy.
The Essential oils:
This blend of equal parts clove essential oil, rosemary, and lavender essential oils smells SO good. But more importantly, the properties of these essential oils all lend themselves to speeding healing. The Clove essential oil also helps numb the area, which helps with pain relief.
NOTE: One of our readers commented that Comfrey may close the wound before the splinter can emerge. This may possibly occur, although I've never had an issue with it. I have seen some pretty amazing things happen with this salve!
**I generally have this infused oil blend ready to go at all times, so this is what I always use for the Black Salve. If you have a very bad skin issue, perhaps consider leaving the Comfrey out if you have concerns. I appreciate those of you who write in with questions and comments!
How to Make Your Own Black Drawing Salve
This salve is really easy and simple to make. It sets up fast, too.
You can use regular olive oil if you don't have herbal infused oil ready to go. However, the addition of the herbal properties make this salve much more powerful. You can find out how to infuse herbs into oil right here in this article.
Ingredients for Black Salve:
** A scant 1/3 cup of the herb infused oil. (Remember, it's ok to use regular olive oil in a pinch. But consider getting a Mason jar of oil infusing so it's ready for next time!) The herbs I used are Plantain, Comfrey, and St. John's Wort in equal measures. You could also use Calendula or Lavender for additional healing.
** 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons Castor oil.
** 2 to 3 teaspoons Beeswax. The beeswax thickens it for a firmer salve. I used 2 teaspoons in this particular batch, and it just always turns out a little runnier than I'd like when I use this small of an amount. Therefore--consider using 3 teaspoons, if you like it firmer. If you like a more "ointment-y" salve, then go with 2 teaspoons.
** 1 tablespoon Activated Charcoal
** 1 tablespoon Bentonite Clay
NOTE: The amount of essential oil I used in this recipe is a bit heavy, so if you want less essential oil, that will work just fine, too.
ONE LAST NOTE: There is a fast and slow way to infuse herbs in oil. You can find out both methods to infuse herbs in oil in this article.
Instructions for Making Your Black Healing Salve:
Step 1) Combine your infused (or not) olive oil and the beeswax in a double boiler. I just use a pint size (wide mouth) Mason jar set in a pan of shallow water---about 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Set the burner on low. Melt the beeswax into the oil. Once the mixture is all liquid, remove from the heat.
Step 2) Now add the charcoal and the bentonite clay. Stir well.
Step 3) Add in your essential oils.
Step 4) Pour your salve into a jar. This recipe makes four ounces. I used one of my pretty jars this time, as my four ounce jelly jars are still packed away after the move!
Step 5) Leave it to set up until it's nice and firm. Because I used a little less beeswax this time, I put my salve in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then I gave it another good stir. I removed it from the freezer and just left it alone. Usually, you can just leave it alone and it will set up just fine without freezing after several hours max.
How to Use This Black Drawing Salve
This is a great salve! But fair warning: Charcoal stains. Be aware of this and take precautions because you sure don't want this near your good clothes!
Mr. V.'s favorite way to use this is to spread it over the wound or splinter, then wrap it with a bandage. If it's small, a band-aid works just fine.
Both he and I have seen it work overnight! It's pretty incredible stuff. In tough cases, you may need to apply the salve for a couple more days.
Final Thoughts and Reflections on Making Your Own Black Drawing Salve
If you have been reading my blog for any time, you know how I feel about homemade: I love it! Doing it and making it yourself is the BEST way to go. You know exactly what is in your product, you can make your own adjustments as you see fit, and you are avoiding the toxic chemicals found in most commercial products.
Gosh---you are also saving a great deal of money!
And guess what: I'd put this black salve up against any similar salve in the stores!
Do you make your own salves? I'd love to know your thoughts on this, and maybe you have other ingredients you enjoy adding? Share in the comments!
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If you have any wood-workers, hard-workers, or gardeners in your life, you'll probably want to give this a try! If you do, let us know how it goes for you!
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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P.P.S. Have you been wanting to learn more about using herbs and essential oils for your health? If you want to start with a great book, I recommend Rosemary Gladstar's book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide. If you'd rather take an online class, then check out The Herbal Academy of New England. They have short and long classes in a variety of different herbal topics, plus courses for all levels!