Balms vs Salves: Herbal Remedies 101

I think it’s important to explain some of the basic recipes you can make in herbology, and today we’ll explore the differences and similarities between balms and salves. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do your research and make sure you are using the right ingredients in the correct way.


Similarities between balms and salves:

  • Topical application
  • Oil based
  • Contain no water
  • Herbs
  • A carrier oil, or a blend of oil
  • Beeswax, sometimes a butter is substituted
  • Often have essential oils



  • Balms tend to be of thicker, harder consistency, which lends to them container a higher ratio of beeswax (like a 1:1 ratio of wax to oil). Having more wax would make balms more suitable for deodorant and lip type containers since they are firmer and retain their shape once hard.
  • Since it is thicker, a balm will need to be rubbed in with more force than a softer salve. This makes them really nice for sore muscles. (I will be covering a sore muscle balm recipe later in the series)



  • Salves are of a softer consistency, which means they contain a lower ratio of beeswax (closer to a 1:4 wax to oil) or sometimes no beeswax at all, as compared with a balm.
  • Being of a softer consistency will allow them to penetrate the skin more deeply, and makes them great choices for wound healing.


Next week I’ll dive into simple balm recipes!!!


2 thoughts on “Balms vs Salves: Herbal Remedies 101

  1. Pingback: Basic Salve Recipe: Herbal Remedies 101 | The Nerd Wife's Life

  2. Pingback: Salve recipe for wounds and rashes | The Nerd Wife's Life

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