How to Make an Essential Oil Cream or Salve

By Cynthia McMullen
Originally posted March 2015

Making an Essential Oil Salve or Cream: Both of these recipes use heat to melt the ingredients, and both have a great soft yet firm consistency, so sometimes deciding which to make is based on what you have on hand. Here’s the basics of what I do:

1. Sterilize your jar(s) and dry them in the oven on 200 for about 10 minutes to make sure all moisture is completely gone.

2. Get essential oils ready. How much to use depends on what you’re making, but generally I use about 20-40 drops total in a 4oz jar. For small skin areas on an adult you can safely use up to about 28 drops of essential oil per 1oz of carrier base, but cut that in half or less if it’s for your face or a child.

TIP: Remember not to mix oil and water or water-based products unless you are using an emulsifier and possibly a preservative, otherwise you’ll get mold in about a week.

3. SALVE: uses 4-6 parts carrier oil to 1 part beeswax. This is about 1 cup carrier oil to 1oz beeswax. You can use any liquid carrier oil, or combine a few such as coconut, apricot, and sweet almond with a touch of argan added.

Place the beeswax in a glass/pyrex measuring cup and sit the cup in a pan of almost boiling water on the stove. Stir until melted, then add liquid carrier oil and continue to heat until it’s all melted together.

Have your jar(s) ready, remove the melted oil from the heat and stir in essential oils. Immediately pour into the jar(s), put the lid on, and let it set overnight. If I’m in a hurry, sometimes I’ll put this in the refrigerator for an hour, then let it come back to room temperature to see what the actual consistency is.

4. CREAM: I use Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter chips, and 2-4 liquid oils as my base. I don’t use exact measurements, but look at it as taking the consistency of the Shea Butter and making it softer with liquid oils.

Common liquid oils I use are organic Olive, Rose Hip Seed, Avocado, and a small amount of Evening Primrose or Argan.

Place a large spoonful of Shea Butter in a pyrex measuring cup and sit the cup in a pan of almost boiling water on the stove. Add 1-2 Cocoa Butter chips (for firmness). Stir until melted. Remove from heat and add the liquid oils – about 1 TBSP each. Stir until well mixed.

There’s not as much of a rush here as with the salve, because beeswax starts to set very quickly, but the shea butter takes quite a bit longer.

Have your jar(s) ready. Add the essential oils, stir well, and pour into the jar(s). Put the lids on and let it set. At room temperature this might take 1-2 days, so using the refrigerator for a few hours helps. Just let it sit out to room temperature for a while before using so you can see the true consistency.

TIP: Make notes on the amounts you are using. If you want the next batch to be firmer, either add more beeswax or shea/cocoa butter, or decrease the amount of liquid oil. If you want the next batch to be softer, decrease the beeswax or shea/cocoa butter and increase the amount of liquid oil.

Once the essential oils are added you can’t really heat it up and change it without damaging the oils, so in the beginning play around with smaller amounts until you get the feel of it. Then it’s easy and fun!