Monday, August 5, 2013

Jewelweed Salve

A few years ago, my neighbors were relating to us a story.  They were telling us that our daughters had been over visiting.  They, the neighbors, had been complaining about the insect bites they had received.  Our girls, without hesitation, exclaimed that they should use jewelweed on the bites.  The neighbors, a couple in their early 60s, admitted they they did not know what it looked like.  Which, of course, send the girls scurrying away to hunt the not-so-elusive, in-fact-quite-prolific, gem.  The neighbors were, and still are, so impressed with the girls.

The fact is that jewelweed grows with great abandon in the little brook laden gully behind our lot.  It was one of the first medicinal herbs that we learned to find and identify in the wild.  We has tried to use it for everything.  Of course, we found that it is most effective for skin irritations - rashes, burns, etc.  You know surface stuff.  It is a fairly common sight for us to be picking, crushing, and rubbing it into our skin.  I should say that it was ....

Last year, I grabbed a bunch of jewelweed and turned it into a salve.  As usual, I did a bit of research, reading things about salves, ointments, balms, and liniment.  As can be expected, I was terribly confused by the terms and the differences between them, until I remembered the reason for the research.  Contrary to the philosophy of many people, I don't really care about labels or terms.  I care about understanding how something works or how it is made ... how does it function or how can I make it.

So, true to form, I decided how I would make it ... internet instructions be damned!  So, for all of those who would brave the treacherous straits of making and using herbal medicines, here is my recipe.

Jewelweed Salve

  1. Respectfully and gratefully, gather fresh jewelweed stems, crushing them and placing them in a one quart jar.
  2. When the jar is full with crushed stems, fill the remaining volume with olive oil, making sure to cover all of the plant material.
  3. Leave the jar one the counter, at room temperature, for several days.  The oil should absorb the medicines and some of the color from the plant.
  4. When ready to make the salve, strain the oil into a pan.  You might think about using a pan you don't care about, unless you would like to clean waxy, oily residue from its inner surface.
  5. Heat the oil in the pan, using a double boiler.  Don't ask me what it is, Wendy called it that ... to me it looked like a pan inside another pan filled with boiling water.
  6. When the oil is warm, mix in beeswax, allowing it to melt completely.  My wax came from my hive.  Yours can come from somewhere else, although I might be willing to share.
  7. Periodically, take a teaspoon of the warm liquid out and place it into the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool.
  8. If you like the consistency, you are done ... pour it into small containers.
  9. If not, add more beeswax, or oil, to make it to your liking.
Oh yeah, this probably should have come before ... this makes a lot of salve, especially if your containers are small.  I used small Scentsy containers that my daughter had given me.  Feel free to use what works for you. These look like they would be nice.

This is my last bit of ointment.  It looks like I'll need to make more.  Enjoy making your own.  Let me know how it turns out.  Of course, I could be convinced to share some of mine.  After all, that is also another part of my MooseBoots travels.


  1. Bravo! Thanks for the reminder to make some salves this year...I took a lecture once on top ten herbs and how to use them, and making salves was included. I've always wanted to, this has provided the inspiration. Thanks Moose Boots!

    1. Thanks, Julie. I hope it goes well. It really is simple. I think I might also try making some plantain, which I have found, first hand, is effective for bee stings and stinging nettles stings. It is effective for many of the same things as jewelweed, but adds care for wounds, scrapes, and such.

  2. This is great. I love to read about people learning & creating. I'd love to know why only the stems ... no leaves? It seems I hear more about stuff made from leaves than anything else.

    1. The parts of a plant you use, for medicine or food, really depends on the species you are working with. As you know, we do not eat potato leaves, but we do eat the tubers. Likewise, we eat the tomatoes, but not the toxic leaves.

      In this case of jewelweed, the juicy, pulpy stuff contains the medicine, which is contained in the stems. The leaves being very thin and waxy, contain very little usable pulp.


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