This yarrow salve recipe makes a wonderful herbal salve with many medicinal uses to add to your natural home first aid kit, and it’s so easy to make! Yarrow salve is most used to treat wounds and skin irritation and help stop bleeding.
This preparation of yarrow is a favorite of herbalists. A salve is effective, easily portable, less messy, and more soothing for the skin than other styles of preparation. It’s also a favorite of moms, like myself, because it’s the perfect child-friendly salve to heal all the constant knicks, bruises, and other booboos they get!
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Yarrow salve is most commonly used to treat minor topical injuries and stop bleeding. It’s made by melting 5g of beeswax (or carnauba wax) into 52g of yarrow-infused oil before adding any optional essential oils. The mixture is then poured into a salve tin or jar and left out to set until completely solidified before fastening its lid. Jump straight to the recipe to get the details!
What is a yarrow salve?
Yarrow salve is a versatile salve made from yarrow-infused oil and natural wax that works wonders on minor wounds and skin irritations including cuts, scrapes, bug bites, burns, and rashes.
Yarrow (achillea millefolium) is a powerful herb that has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It is truly one of our most ancient plant ancestors, dating back as far as 60,000 years ago, with historical roots in Ancient Greece. To the ancients, yarrow was known as Herba militaris, the military herb, for its amazing ability to staunch the wounds of soldiers on the battlefield.
It is still well known today for its protective and healing properties. In addition to its ability to stop bleeding, yarrow can heal wounds, relieve pain, and assist digestion. It’s also anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.
Yarrow has natural mosquito-repelling properties and attracts bees, so you’ll often find it in home gardens. It’s also easily found growing in the wild, including in disturbed areas. Chances are you’ve already come across yarrow and considered it an unwanted weed!
Aside from a salve, there are dozens of other ways to use yarrow for food and medicine, making it a staple in herbal medicine cabinets. It can be taken internally as a tea, tincture, or added to a dish, or it can be applied topically as a poultice, infused oil, infused tea bath, or salve such as this.
To overcome cold and flu, and ease digestion or menstrual cramps and more, yarrow is best taken internally using a yarrow tincture or tea.
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Leaves or flowers for yarrow salve?
Ideally, you would use both the leaves and flowers in the yarrow-infused oil for this salve, though using just the leaves work well too.
While the flowers are best to relieve internal issues such as fever, stomach upset, and menstrual cramping, yarrow leaves are best to be used in a topical salve as they have powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, anti-bacterial, wound healing, and blood coagulating properties when applied to the skin. Yarrow blossoms do also contain anti-inflammatory and astringent properties so they do add benefits to the skin as well.
I prefer using both when making topical salves but wouldn’t hesitate to use only use leaves.
Also, using flowers and leaves in your infused oil means you can use it both internally and externally in the future, assuming you used food-grade oil. If you only plan on using your oil for topical use, yarrow leaves are all you’ll need!
Sourcing yarrow for a yarrow salve
Dried or fresh yarrow
Both dried and fresh yarrow work exceptionally well to create yarrow-infused oil for your salve. However, if you are cold infusing your oil, dried works best as fresh herbs have a chance of going rancid over the 3-6 week period.
You can grow your own yarrow or forage for it when it’s in season. Alternatively, you can buy dried yarrow online from Amazon or my personal preference, Mountain Rose Herbs. Both offer organic yarrow containing both leaves and flowers.
Since yarrow can grow in some of the worst conditions, and you’ll be using it medicinally, it’s best to source yarrow plants that are pesticide-free and have been grown in cleaner conditions like a garden or forest. When purchasing dried herbs, the certified organic label helps assure the quality of these plants.
Identifying yarrow plants
If you’re one with nature and can comfortably identify plants, you may prefer to forage for them.
Yarrow grows to be about two feet tall and has slender, soft, finely divided, feather-like, or ferny green leaves. The best surefire way to identify yarrow is by the leaves.
The leaves are generally the largest toward the bottom of the stem and are arranged spirally around the stem. Its leaves smell somewhat of fresh pine needles and its green stems are grooved with wooly hairs.
The daisy-like flowers of the yarrow are small and clustered, and they can be found in a variety of colors. There are rumors that only white yarrow contains medicinal properties – this is untrue and all colored yarrow work. Though, in the wild, you’ll most often find white yarrow with the rare pink sighting.
When foraging, there are a few yarrow look-alikes that you’ll need to look out for like queen anne’s lace and wild fennel. Always reference a foraging or plant ID book or app with you to confirm identification. Avoid foraging yarrow grown in highly polluted areas for medicinal use.
Benefits of yarrow salve
Infused oils, tea baths, and poultices are all great topical methods, but salves certainly have their perks. Salves are a semi-solid consistency until heated and rubbed into the skin, making them less messy to use and spill-proof for travel. Yarrow is seasonal for many of us, so transforming it into a salve allows us to take advantage of its benefits all year round. There are also many health benefits:
Protects wounds and burns
Yarrow leaves are antiseptic and antibacterial and have healing and soothing properties that can be used on minor injuries to protect against sepsis and infection.
Its ability to break up stagnation and support the movement of new blood cells to the area helps stop bleeding much faster.
Studies show it increases the number of cells that are responsible for regenerating tissues. When yarrow salve is applied topically it helps injuries heal faster.1 It also contains silica, which will help repair damaged tissue.
Safe for children
This salve can be used topically on both adults and children. It’s safe and effective for use on the bug bites, scrapes, and bruises that kids get all the time. In addition to helping slow down bleeding and speed up healing, it also soothes their little (or big) bruises.
Reduces pain and swelling
The anti-inflammatory properties of yarrow can help reduce pain, swelling, and pressure.2 It can be used on the joints or even on the temples to help subside a migraine. Its anti-inflammatory properties are also great for rashes and irritated skin.
Promotes blood circulation
Yarrow salve promotes blood circulation thus improving diseases such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The improved circulation also prevents uric acid from accumulating in the joints and muscles, thus helping with rheumatism and arthritis.
Perfect to soothe bug bites and irritated skin.
Because Yarrow is an astringent, it’s often used to tone veins, making it helpful for varicose veins and/or hemorrhoids when used topically. It’s also effective in postpartum bath sitz recipes, and makes great facial steam for clogged pores or a hair-clarifying rinse!
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Yarrow salve uses
Yarrow salve is a versatile healing herbal salve with so many uses:
- Diaper rash
- Post-partum care
- Mouth sores
- Animal bites
- Bug bites and stings
- Headache (rub into temples)
- Chapped or cracked lips
- Cracked feet
- Hair loss
When not to use it
Though it can still benefit deeper wounds, it’s recommended to have deep or severe wounds seen by a doctor or emergency room first since yarrow tends to close wounds quickly.
How to use yarrow salve
To use it, simply clean the wound, then apply the yarrow salve. The salve will help stop any bleeding and close the wound more quickly.
What you need
The great thing about this recipe is it’s so simple with no special equipment needed! To get started with this base recipe, you need:
A double boiler
Don’t have one? You can DIY it by using a heat-resistant bowl inside of a pot with simmering water. That’s what I use!
Salve tins or mason jar
You could use any container really, but the best containers for homemade salves are 8oz mason jars or metal tins. I use 2oz metal tins.
If you don’t have one yet, you can make one. If you’re using fresh yarrow, dry the leaves (and optional flowers) first. Instructions on how to infuse carrier oil will be listed in the recipe instructions below.
The addition of beeswax in this salve will further protect, soothe, and nourish your skin. It helps set and solidify the salve. You can find beeswax in white or yellow, and as a solid bar or as pellets. Any will work for this recipe. Pellets are faster to melt down and easier to portion out.
How to make yarrow salve
Step 1: Make yarrow-infused oil, if you haven’t already.
If you already have an oil prepared, it’s important to check the oil for any signs of spoilage like rancidity, cloudiness, sediment, or off-odor. If you run into any of these signs, discard the oil and create a fresh batch.
You will need dried yarrow leaves (and optionally flowers), a high-quality carrier oil like extra-virgin olive oil, and an airtight container or jar. If you are starting with fresh flowers, you will want to dry them at least until there is a bit of crunch to them.
Finely chop the dried yarrow into small pieces using a pair of garden shears or sharp kitchen scissors.
Measure out dried yarrow and carrier oil in a 1:1 ratio. Place the dried yarrow leaves and flowers in the jar, and then pour the carrier oil over the top. Stir the ingredients together before sealing the jar with a tight-fitting lid. Place it in a warm, sunny location (away from direct sunlight) for 3-6 weeks. Shake, turn, or mix the jar daily.
After 3-6 weeks, strain the oil through a cheesecloth and fine mesh strainer to remove the yarrow leaves and flowers. Compress the solids to get as much oil as possible. Store it in a cool, dark place.
Step 2: Melt beeswax
In a double boiler over low heat, melt 5g of beeswax. If you do not have a double boiler, add the beeswax to a heat-resistant bowl that has been placed into a pot of simmering water to achieve the same result.
Step 3: Combine oil and beeswax
Once melted, turn off the heat and pour in 52g of oil. Add essential oils if preferred and then mix thoroughly until everything is completely melted together.
Step 4: Pour and set
Pour the liquid yarrow salve into small tins or jars and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Leave it to cool completely before adding any lids or tops to the jars or tins.
To adjust the consistency
You can test the consistency prior to letting your mixture set by taking a stainless steel teaspoon of the mixture and popping it into the freezer for approx 15-20 seconds. Remove and feel if the consistency is to your liking.
To soften the consistency, add more oil. To harden it, add more beeswax and re-melt the mixture very gently if necessary.
You can also give your salve a whipped consistency, which I prefer to do particularly for use on wounds (easier to apply). Just stir your salve as it is setting at timed intervals until you get to your preferred consistency.
Alterations to this yarrow salve recipe
I’ve provided you with a base recipe, but you can do so much more with it if you wanted!
Add other complimentary herbs
Yarrow salve is sometimes combined with other skin-soothing and antimicrobial herbs like calendula, lavender, plantain, or comfrey.
To make a calendula yarrow salve, for example, you would simply cut the amount of yarrow oil needed in this recipe and replace that amount with a calendula-infused oil. The ratios that make up the oil can change as long as you end up with the same amount of oil.
Add essential oils
After straining, you can add essential oils to this herbal salve to enhance its medicinal properties and give it a pleasant aroma. Essential oils like lavender, tea tree, peppermint, and eucalyptus can be added for their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and pain-relieving properties.
Make it a bug-bite relief stick
Instead of pouring it into a container, try adding the mixture to a lip balm tube to create a healing bug bite stick for easy application! Perfect for camping trips and spending time out in the backyard.
Yarrow salve should be stored in a cool, dark place away from heat and direct light. It can be stored in the refrigerator for a cooling effect.
How long does yarrow salve last?
When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, away from heat and light, this salve can last up to 12 months on the counter or in the fridge.
Yarrow should not be used internally by breastfeeding or pregnant women. Using it externally on the skin in the form of a salve is considered safe by some but only under the advisement or supervision of your herbalist or healthcare professional.
Yarrow should be avoided if you have an allergy to plants in the Asteraceae family (like daisies, ragweed, marigolds, or sunflowers).
Always consult your healthcare professional to confirm that yarrow will not interact with any drugs or prescriptions you are taking.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Can colored yarrow be used medicinally?
When wildly grown, you’ll find that the original white color is seen the most. Sometimes you’ll spot pink or maybe even yellow. Every color of yarrow has great medicinal uses, no matter the color!
What is a salve?
A salve is essentially a cream, ointment, or balm that you apply to your skin to heal it. Salves are made out of waxes and oils to make a material that is semi-solid.
What are other common names for yarrow?
There are quite a few names for yarrow!
- common yarrow
- devil’s nettle
- nosebleed plant
- old man’s pepper
- old man’s mustard
- soldier’s woundwort
Where does yarrow grow?
Yarrow is a perennial herb that can be found growing in meadows, woods, and roadside verges.
Have you tried this recipe? Leave us a review!
- 1 Double boiler (or a pot and heat safe bowl)
- 1 Kitchen scale
- 1 Salve tin or jar
- 5 g Beeswax or carnauba wax (solid or pellets)
- 52 g Yarrow-infused oil
- 3 drops Essential oil (optional)
How to make yarrow salve
- Melt 5g of beeswax in your double boiler. If you don't have a double broiler, place beeswax into a heat-safe bowl and sit it over simmering water inside of a pot.
- Once it is completely melted, turn off the heat.
- Add 52g of yarrow oil into the melted beeswax and stir until fully combined and melted together.
- Add 3 drops of essential oil of choice and mix (optional).
- Pour mixture into 2oz metal tins or glass jar to set.
- For a more whipped consistency, stir the salve as is solidifying until you are happy with the consistency.
- Store it in a cold and dry place and use within 12 months.
To adjust consistencyI have found the above consistency best for applying to wounds, especially when whipped, but we all have our preferences! For a softer consistency, use more oil and less beeswax. For example, you can add as little as 1g of beeswax and add 4g of oil more. For a harder consistency, use less oil and more beeswax, you can even use a 1:1 ratio!
- The estimation of the traditionally used yarrow (Achillea millefolium L. Asteraceae) oil extracts with anti-inflamatory potential in topical application (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28163113/)
- Menorrhagia: A synopsis of management focusing on herbal and nutritional supplements, and chiropractic. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077876/)
*DISCLAIMER I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Check with your doctor or herbalist or whoever you trust if you feel like your symptoms are serious or getting worse. I am not guaranteeing that this salve will definitely cure you or your family of any of the above-listed ailments or that it’s safe for your unique circumstances.