Herbal Salve
Place of Learning: 
60 minutes
Grade Level: 
In this lesson, students participate in making an Herbal salve to take home. Students will: learn about the different properties of plants grown in the garden or in the essential oils.
Student Learning Goals & Objectives: 

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Understand how different herbs and essential oils have different healing properties for the body, skin, sleep, and digestion.
  • Learn how we can make skincare and medicine using ingredients found in a garden
  • Make choices around what herbs and essential oils to use in their salve depending on what they would like this salve to be used for.

During this lesson, students will:

  • Measure ingredients and follow the recipe.
Materials & Prep: 
  • Beeswax
  • Essential oils (lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, etc.)
  • Infused oils (olive oil/ jojoba oil/ sweet almond oil  infused with medicinal herbs)
  • Tins for salve
  • Induction burner
  • Pot
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Markers for labeling
  • Sticker labels
Procedure Steps: 
  • Set up induction burner and lay out ingredients on workspace
  • Pick some plants from the garden that represent the plants you are using in the infused oil or essential oils
  1. Introduce salve to students and show them a finished product. Explain that we are going to make “salve” or skin balm using medicinal plants from the garden.
    • Salve can be used for dry lips, skin, rashes, burns, etc.
  2. Using samples of medicinal plants from the garden explain the different medicinal properties of each plant. Explain that each student will get to make their own salve and choose which medicinal plant infused and essential oils they want in their salve depending on what they want to use it for.
    • Calendula: healing wounds, rashes, burns, and dry skin, anti- bacterial
    • Lavender: ability to relieve stress, improve mood, promote restful sleep, lower skin irritation, prevent infections, reduce inflammation, eliminate dandruff, and soothe stomach bloating
    • Yarrow:  It shrinks the skin and promotes skin healing, acts as antiseptic for open wounds and encourages new skin growth over wounds
    • Mint: antibacterial properties, is calming, helps with digestion, can prevent acne, and has a cooling effect.
    • Rosemary: antioxidant, increases skin elasticity, can improve blood flow and digestion when absorbed through the skin.
    • White Sage: full of antioxidants and antibacterial properties, anti inflammatory, and can alleviate skin conditions like acne or eczema.
  3. Place herbal oils and beeswax over a double boiler, and gently warm over low heat until the beeswax melts.
  4. Remove from heat and add the essential oil(s). Quickly pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely.
  5. Salve should be stored in a cool location where they will remain semi-solid and will not continually re-melt and re-solidify. If stored correctly, salves will last for 1-3 years.
  6. Finally have students make sticker labels and decorate them to their liking to put on their tins of salve.
  1. Have students reflect on what plants were incorporated into their salve either through the infused oil or the essential oil.
  2. Ask Students if they feel comfortable to share what their salve can be used for:
    • Eg. My lavender salve can be used before going to bed because it has relaxing and stress relieving properties.
    • Eg. This calendula and white sage salve can be used when my skin is irritated or if I have a small cut because it is antibacterial and anti inflammatory.
Download Lesson Materials
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Salve
  • Medicinal
Teaching Notes: 
  • The consistency of salves can easily be adjusted depending on your preferences. Use less beeswax for a softer salve and more beeswax if you’d like a firm salve. You can test the consistency by placing a spoon in the freezer before making your salve. When the beeswax melts, pour a little salve onto one of the cold spoons and place it back into the freezer for 1-2 minutes. This will simulate what the final consistency will be like. Once cooled, you can make adjustments by adding more oil (for a softer salve) or more beeswax (for a firmer salve).
  • Recommended plants: lavender, calendula, mint, chamomile, yarrow, rosemary, sage.
  • Recommend having infused oils already made because base oil should infuse with plant for at least 1 month cold for plant oils to fully infuse in the base oil. Simply place herbs or blend of herbs in a mason jar, keep in a sunny window for 1-3 months. Make sure all plant material is infused in oil to discourage any mold growth.
  • In preparation for lesson print off plant cards that have name of plant, image of plant, and small description about its medicinal uses
  • Highly recommend using beeswax pellets over blocks based on the efficiency of measuring it out.

All lessons at the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley are a collaboration between the teachers and staff of the Edible Schoolyard and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.