7 December 2011

Simple skin care - calendula salve

I made some calendula salve to apply to some rashes we both have. Calendula is easy to grow in most gardens and gives you a beautiful sun coloured cream that will soothe and nourish damaged and inflamed skin. Calendula salve can be made in different ways, this is how I do it.

You'll need:
  • A cup of fresh or dried calendula petals that haven't been sprayed with anything and have been organically grown.
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup melted beeswax
  • Emu oil or vitamin E oil are optional.
  • Pick petals when they're dry and add them to a white bowl - you can see any bugs better on a white background. 
  • Strip the petals from the flower heads and when you have a cup full, dry them out for a day.

  • The next day add them to a jar that you can seal with a lid.
  • Pour in a cup of olive oil.
  • Put the jar out in the sunshine for about two weeks. This solarises the mix and gently extracts healing properties from the calendula as the oil gently heats up every day.

  • When the oil has been sitting in the sun for two weeks, take the jar inside and strain the oil, removing the petals. You can use either cheesecloth or a fine wire strainer. 
  • Press the petals with the back of a spoon to release all the oil. Stand the jar in a container of hot water to heat the oil slightly so it will mix well with the hot wax.
  • In a double saucepan, melt the beeswax, allow it to cool down a little then add it to the oil. If you want to add vitamin E or emu oil, do it now. I add a small amount of emu oil because unlike most other oils, it helps the salve penetrate into the lower layers of skin.
  • I like to emulsify my salve. It lightens the colour and completely mixes the oils with the wax. Use a stick blender to do this - just 5 seconds should do the job well.
  • Pour into a sterilised jar and seal. I store this in the fridge. It will keep for at least a year.
Calendula salve is useful for rashes, nappy/diaper rash, inflamed skin, mild eczema, sunburn, burns, insect bites and probably many other things I haven't tried it on. I rub it into my hands when I've been using it elsewhere and my hands are lovely and soft at the moment. Making these simple salves helps provide good quality skin care that you can safely use on the family. You know exactly what's in them and they cost a tiny fraction of what you'd pay to buy something similar.



  1. I love this post. It's all about keeping it simple, yes even for your skin. I make a very similar cream to this one, only my calendula are orange. I love your photos too....nice job.

  2. Thanks for the tutorial. I look forward to giving it a go.

  3. Hi Rhonda
    This is so timeous for me as I have lots of calendula left even after making a soap batch AND it's mosquito season here in south Africa! Thanks!

  4. This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your formula--I can't wait to try making my own salve. Could coconut oil be used in place of the olive oil?

  5. Jaime, I haven't made it with coconut oil but I think it will do fine.

  6. Thank you Rhonda - I was looking for a simple recipe for a calendula salve. I have all the ingredients on hand, all I need now is for the sunshine to return!

  7. I have started drying my calendula but I haven't made this cream before. I will try it after the Christmas business. How pretty does the jar of petal look?!!!

  8. I get heat rash every summer so this is particularly valuable to me, thank you Rhonda.

  9. I do something similar with sunflower oil (but have never heard of emu oil...) the salve is also good with a mix of rosemary/lavender based oils!

  10. What a great tutorial! Thank you so much Rhonda for taking the time to lay it out so well. Really want to give this one a try soon.

  11. Never done this before -- and hoope to try it in the near future.. thanks for sharing..
    Hugs from Cabo

  12. Isn't it funny how sometimes commonsense completely bypasses us?

    "Pick petals when they're dry and add them to a white bowl - you can see any bugs better on a white background."


    Why has this never occurred to me?!

  13. Hi Rhonda, where do you get your beeswax from? Im fairly new to the non-commercial world of products, so im not too sure where to go to buy it. Do you go to a particular online shop?

    After trips to 2 plant nursery's asking to buy a "Calendula" plant with no success, i went home and googled it only to find im already growing Marigolds in my garden. Hehe.. i felt a bit silly.

    Thankyou for your tips and advice, im really enjoying your stories and pictures.


  14. That's a lovely simple recipe.

    Hubby gets dreadful heat blisters in the summer across the whole of his back, so this will be perfect for helping that.

    Thank you

  15. Oh, I would like to try this, thanks for a lovely post. I made hand cream for the first time a couple of weeks ago, see my adventure here:


    I will be incorporating your advice in my next batch! ;)

  16. Thanks RHonda will have to get calendulas in the garden this year. this recipe sounds delightful!

  17. Rhonda, it is winter (almost) here in New York and we may be getting snow tonight. I am looking for more natural skin products especially for two of my kids who have eczema. this formula sounds fantastic! could I use dried calendula and if so, how much would you think I'd need?
    Thanks so much! I've been reading your blog for a few years and it has changed my way of thinking. Looking forward to your book!

  18. Thank you for the recipe! I'll definitely use this in the future.

  19. Oh Rhoanda, what a great post! I just posted a picture of my dry hands. What a coincidence!

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Love from Holland

  20. Leanne you can sometimes buy beeswax at local markets from people selling honey. If you can't find anyone local, try ebay:

    Also, marigolds are not true calendulas but they will make a good salve.

    Kate, a little less than a cup if they're dried.

  21. Thanks Rhonda, another really useful recipe from my favourite website. The salve will be a real boon for my lovely husband who suffers from eczema on his feet when he gets stressed. Another project for my christmas holiday. :-)

  22. The recipe is so simple and sounds so doable - great! I have two of the main ingredients on hand ... just waiting for the calendulas to grow ...

  23. Thanks Rhonda, another great easy recipe.
    Leanne make sure you have Calendula Officinalis and not a plant which is sometimes wrongly labelled Calendula Tagetes (also French Marigold or African Marigold) as tagetes is the insect repellant one and may affect your skin if you use it for a salve. I'm surprised the nursery doesn't have the biological names on the tags somewhere.

  24. Thanks Rhonda and Robyn, i've gone to the yates website and ordered some seeds that were called "Calendula Pacific Beauty", and even if these are not appropriate then they are a pretty flower to have around my garden, im planning a trip out to a larger nursery, but if you have any suggestions on where to aquire a Calendula Officinalis in Adelaide or online, i'd be open to hearing them. Im always happy to listen to advice ;o) Im headed down to our local markets on sunday to find the beeswax.

    I hope i dont come accross too silly, im just so excited and wanting to get out there now and make some!


  25. Leanne, Pacific Beauty is an heirloom so save seeds as you go so you have some for next year. You don't sound silly at all, you sound excited.

  26. I did not know that Calendula and merigolds were the same plant! I thought they were just similar flowers... I am making lavender salve for teachers gifts this year. I was buying my beeswax at the farm market where I also bought their raw honey. Local honey is so good it helped with allergies.

  27. Domestic goddess, they aren't. Calendulas are commonly called Pot Marigold but they're not a marigold.

  28. Calendulas in the garden remind me more of straw flowers than of the common marigolds (which smell absolutely completely different than a calendula).

    Tagetes is the marigold family and you don't want that for beauty or skin products.

    Calendula officinalis is what you want to make salves. The flower when it blooms looks more like a daisy in its shape.

    The leaves are long and finely hairy and a bit sticky if you handle the plants.

    If you can't find plants or seeds where you live, order some online from a reputable company that provides the correct scientific latin names for the seeds it sells. Calendula is really pretty easy to grow from seed. :) I forget to dead-head my flowers and it tends to re-seed itself every year with no effort on my part at all.

  29. Thank you so much for this post! I think I'll try to grow more calendulas next year - even if I forget to harvest them as I'm wont to, they're beautiful flowers. :-)

  30. I have diffrent species of calendula officinalis, like the Buttermilk baby and the Spider, can i use these too for making creme?

  31. annemiek, I believe all calendula petals have healing properties, so I would go ahead and make a batch with your petals.

  32. Thank you for a very good tutorial.

  33. I was wondering if you could clarify for me... can marigold flowers be used for a good salve?

    I have huge marigold flowers, I don't know what kind but the flowers are about 4" across, very fluffy and quite beautiful...they are a yellowy gold color. Not those small dark orange kind usually found in a garden.

    I would love to make a salve with them but I am not sure if a marigold flower is good to use or not good to use. I do not want to make a salve that will irritate the skin.

    Will you please advise me as to whether I can use these to make a soothing salve?

    1. it sounds like you have the same calendulas I have. Calendula officinalis is the correct name for some marigolds. Just make sure it's not french marigold or african marigold. Google marigold and see if you can recognise your plant and if it's Calendula officinalis, just use this salve recipe.

  34. Thank you for responding. Oh, I am very sad. My big fluffy flowers are definitely a french marigold. I am so surprised because they are so large and fluffy....like big powderpuffs...


    Well, I guess I will not be making any of the salve this year. I will hunt down seeds for the Calendula Officinalis and try next year.

  35. skincare range has no dyes, artificial perfumes, or harsh irritants that can upset your skin. Instead, just our purest possible skin loving ingredients with added vitamins, for skin that looks natural and healthy.

  36. Hi there, is there any issue with the oil going rancid in the sun? Also, I've bought beeswax from a soap making store although it's not always organic. Liss


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