Yarrow salve offers many medicinal and healing benefits, and it couldn’t be easier to make at home. Yarrow is used topically to treat wounds and skin irritation, and it’s been used since antiquity to help stop bleeding.
Yarrow can be found growing in the wild all throughout the United States and is an important addition to any home remedy collection.
(Always consult your doctor or a clinical herbalist before trying any new herbal remedy, as there’s always the possibility of unintended consequences, allergic reaction, or interactions with other medication. If you’re harvesting wild plant material, make sure you’re 100% confident in your identification and consult multiple sources for your ID. The following is based on my research and experience, but I don’t claim to have any certifications that would qualify me to advise you on your health. Please do your own research and always verify with multiple reputable sources.)
Benefits of Yarrow Salve
Supplies & Equipment for Making Yarrow Salve
One of the best parts about making homemade herbal salves is the fact that no special equipment is required.
All you need is a simple double broiler, such as this store-bought double boiler, or you can make your own DIY version using a heatproof bowl and a small pot (which is what I usually do).
The herbs are infused into a neutral oil; I like to use olive oil but you can also try grapeseed, coconut or jojoba oil — each of these options have well-known soothing properties when applied to the skin.
Finally, you’ll need to have containers on hand for the finished salve. I typically like to use 2-ounce salve tins which screw shut and make great gifts. If you prefer the look of glass, you can also use any small jar with a tight-fitting lid, such as quarter pint mason jars.
How to Make Yarrow Salve
Making your own yarrow salve is easier than you might think, the active prep time is only 30 minutes and the rest of the time is hands-off. If you’ve ever made any other healing salves you’ll know the main requirements are patience and consistency (and in fact, because we’re going to use the warm rapid infusion method to make this yarrow salve, the actual patience required for this recipe isn’t all that much).
When it comes to infusing oil with herbs, there are two main methods: rapid infusion and slow infusion.
Fresh herbs, like the yarrow used in this recipe, should always be infused using the warm rapid infusion method. When fresh herbs are stored in oil for several weeks they’ll eventually spoil, releasing water into the oil and causing it to go rancid (which, you’ll know if you’ve ever accidentally smelled or ingested rancid oil, is an unpleasant experience).
The slow infusion method, on the other hand, can be used when dried herbs are added to the oil instead of fresh. This process involves storing the jars in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight for 3 to 6 weeks. That’s a good option if you’ve purchased dried yarrow.
This salve uses the leaves of the yarrow plant, if you find yourself with an excess of leftover yarrow flowers you can turn them into a soothing hot & moist tea for cold and flu.
Begin the salve-making process by filling a pint mason jar with yarrow leaves — they should be fairly densely packed.
Since yarrow grows wild all around my land, and the surrounding areas, I actually just bring a mason jar out foraging and pack the leaves right into the jar. It’s a convenient way to measure.
Next, you’ll want to finely chop the yarrow leaves into small pieces using a pair of garden shears or sharp kitchen scissors.
I’ll bring the jar filled with yarrow back to my porch and get to chopping.
Pour enough olive oil (or other neutral oil of your choice) into the mason jar to cover the chopped leaves.
In this case, I’m just using olive oil from my kitchen, since it’s a nice neutral choice and great for gifts. Almond oil has natural skin-soothing properties, but be sure it’s not used by anyone with nut allergies.
I’ve also used jojoba oil, which mimics your skin’s natural lubricants and is especially nourishing.
Leaving the jar open, place the jar into a double boiler that’s been filled with about an inch of water on the bottom. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use also use a saucepan or slow cooker, in which case you’ll need to place the jar on a trivet (I use a canning lid or an old cotton dish towel).
Very slowly, warm the water up to 110 to 120 degrees. Resist the urge to crank the heat during this step, the goal is to gently infuse the oil with yarrow, not to cook the herbs. Overheating the oil will result in the yarrow losing some of its healing properties and medicinal potency.
Allow the yarrow to infuse into the oil for between 24 and 48 hours, keeping the temperature between 110 and 120 degrees. This can be achieved by periodically bringing the water back up to temperature and then turning it off again. Before I go to bed I heat the water up, turn it off, and then place a towel over the pot to keep its contents warm.
Once the oil is infused to your liking, it can be made into the finished salve. Carefully strain out the yarrow leaves from the oil and pour them into a heatproof bowl (we’re going to make another double boiler). Place the bowl over simmering water in a small pot, adding the beeswax and stirring until the mixture is completely incorporated and smooth.
(If you don’t have a kitchen scale to weigh the beeswax, 1 ounce of solid beeswax is roughly equivalent to 1 heaping tablespoon of beeswax pistils).
Pour the liquid yarrow salve into small tins or jars and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
As a general rule, herbal salves should be used within 1 year of being made.
Apply yarrow salve to bee stings, minor cuts, rashes (including diaper rash), and burns. It’s something I always like to keep on hand, and these small tins are perfect to bring on camping and hiking trips as well as for stashing in a purse or backpack.
Other Ways to Use Yarrow
Looking for other ways to use yarrow? This article has more than 50 ideas for using yarrow in both food and medicine.
These are some of my other favorite ways to use it when I’m not making salve:
- Homemade Yarrow and Witch Hazel Soap
- Yarrow Tincture
- Yarrow Styptic from Joybilee Farm
- Rose Plaintain & Yarrow Itch Remedy from The Nerdy Farm Wife
- DIY Herbal Cough Drops from The Nerdy Farm Wife
Yarrow salve is a natural remedy for minor cuts and abrasions, and it's perfect for your herbal first aid kit.
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh yarrow leaves
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups olive oil (or any other neutral oil)
- 1 ounce bees wax
- Double broiler (or saucepan and heatproof bowl or slow cooker)
- Salve tins (or small resealable jars)
- Gather yarrow from a clean area that hasn't been sprayed with chemicals. Double-check that you have identified the yarrow properly before beginning this project.
- Roughly chop the yarrow, filling a pint mason jar almost to the top with leaves.
- Pour the olive oil or neutral oil of your choice over the yarrow leaves.
- Fill a saucepan or slow cooker with 1 inch of water. Carefully place the yarrow- and oil-filled jar on a trivet in a double boiler or in the slow cooker.
- Slowly heat the water until it reaches 110 to 120 degrees. Turn off the heat.
- Keep the contents of the jar incubating in the warm water. Bring the water back up to temperature periodically over the next 24 to 48 hours, never leaving the heat on for any prolonged amount of time and never allowing the water line to get too low.
- When the oil is completely infused, strain out the yarrow leaves.
- Pour the infused yarrow oil into a heatproof bowl, place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, creating another double boiler.
- Stir in the beeswax and let it slowly melt into the oil. Remove from the heat once the beeswax is completely incorporated.
- Carefully pour the oil and beeswax combination into prepared salve tins or small jars.
- Let the salve cool and set completely before using, around 30 minutes.
If you're using dried yarrow leaves for this salve, you can use this quick warm infusion method or try a 4 to 6 week long cold infusion (storing the infusion in a cool, dark place as it steeps). This longer infusion method is only suitable for dried herbs, otherwise the fresh yarrow leaves will begin to spoil in the room temperature oil over such an extended period of time.
Homemade Herbal Salve Recipes
Looking for more homemade herbal salve tutorials?
Disclaimer on Homemade Herbal Remedies
I’ve been foraging wild medicines and treating my family with herbal remedies for the past 20 years, but I’m self-taught. Be aware that I am not a clinical herbalist, and this is based on my own research and personal experience using medicinal plants. I do not claim to have the experience that’d qualify me to advise you on your health, and I’m only providing this as a reference to encourage a broader interest in medicinal plants.
Please use this as a jumping-off point, but always do your own research and verify anything you read with multiple sources.
It’s always possible to have an adverse reaction to any medicinal herb, and plenty of people are allergic to even gentle herbs like chamomile. Always consult your doctor or a certified herbalist before trying any new medicinal plant. Often, they can have unintended reactions in combination with other herbs and supplements, and many herbs have side effects even when they are effective for their intended purpose.
If you are seriously interested in herbal medicine, I’d suggest investing in a course in herbal medicine, and I’d recommend any of the online courses put out by the Herbal Academy of New England. Specifically, the introduction to herbal medicine course and the family herbalist group of courses.