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beeswax and usnea salve

Updated: Mar 17

I love body butter for quenching dry winter skin, but when I noticed a friend was using it on open cuts, I knew something unscented was the ticket. While I love scent, essential oils work in every scenario. When used on certain wounds it can be irritating instead of soothing. I've been making this two ingredient salve for many years, and thought you may like to too.


  • Saucepan

  • Metal mixing bowl (or double boiler)

  • Spoon

  • Spatula

  • Small Jars

  • Strainer (if using infused olive oil)

  • Measuring cup


  • 1 1/2 cup Olive Oil*

  • 75g Beeswax from the folks at Greensmith

*I foraged some usnea, known as Old Man's Beard, and let it sit in the olive oil for three months. This lichen has long been used in traditional medcine to treat wounds. (read a summary of the research)

Method (15-30 min):

  1. If using a botanical like usnea, strain the botanical out of the oil.

  2. Add beeswax and olive oil into a metal bowl. Heat water in a sauce pan, and add metal bowl on top. You can use a double boiler too, I just don't have one.

  3. Stir frequently until all the beeswax has melted.

  4. Pour into clean jars. The mixture will solidify as you go, so you may need to reheat it.

There are some notes below about clean up and adding scent. I'd love to see your salves, you can send me a photo by email ( or tag us on instagram @yorabode.

I experimented with adding scent because I thought this could work like a petroleum-free Tiger Balm or Vicks Vaporub. I added 14g of eucalyptus essential oil, which is about a 5% scent load, or 3tbsp. It added a subtle aroma, but didn't get after that fairly extreme cool/hot sensation I was looking for. Next time, I think I'd double or triple this.

Beeswax will not come off just with soap and water. If it has solidified again, pour some boiling water to loosen it up, then you should be able to clean it away.


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