by erin stewart sm (3 of 5)

How to Make Golden Spiced Salve

Every year about this time, I start wanting to use all the warming herbs and spices in everything. It usually starts happening right around the day that the weather starts to feel a bit crisp and our first fall rain arrives. It’s like an instant transition for me.

I go from tank tops and flip flops to cozy sweaters and knee-length socks and chunky scarves and homemade quilts and spiced chai lattes and baked goods with all of the flavors of pumpkin spice lattes. The cozy season sets in deep over here.

I generally start to move away from the citrus-scented products of the summer toward the more sweet, spicy notes of the fall in my body care products too. My remedies start to take on a warmer tone.

And I start to use a lot of turmeric. Which is saying something, because I already use quite a bit of it throughout the year. But in the fall, it somehow makes its way into everything. Teas, honeys, eggs, baked goods, veggies, rice… all. of. the. things.

One of my go-to anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving formulas for clients, especially at this time of year, is a golden spiced salve that incorporates turmeric into the blend. I published the recipe in the October issue of AromaCulture Magazine (which is now available here, if you’d like to take a look at it – this month’s theme is herb/aromatherapy chemistry). I thought I’d share it here for you too, in case you haven’t had a chance to purchase your copy of the magazine yet.


  • 2 ounces of your favorite carrier oil
    I like to infuse mine with skin-friendly herbs that also have analgesic properties, but you could also use a plain carrier oil if it’s all you have on hand. I do recommend using something with a somewhat neutral or golden color, though, to enhance the golden color of the finished salve. Sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, and jojoba all work really well.
  • 0.5 ounces of beeswax
  • 1/2 teaspoon of organic turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic cayenne powder
  • 12 drops lavender (angustifolia) essential oil
  • 6 drops of ginger (Zingiber officinale) essential oil, distilled from the fresh root
  • 6 drops of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oil

Note: This recipe calls for about a 2% dilution of essential oils. The overall blend is pretty strong as it is with the turmeric and cayenne added. If you are working with a more acute kind of ailment that has more pronounced pain, you could double the amount of each essential oil to increase the dilution to a total of 4%. This would be ideal for short-term use for an acute issue. The recipe as-is would be well-suited for something that needs more regular care.

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How to Make the Salve

Set up a double boiler on your stove using a small saucepan and a glass, Pyrex measuring cup. The measuring cups make great double boilers for herbal products because they have a pouring spout that makes it easy to transfer your blend to the container when you take it off the stove. Make sure your saucepan has about an inch of water in it.

Add the beeswax, carrier oil, and powders to the measuring cup and place the cup inside the saucepan. Heat over a medium-low flame, stirring as needed, until the beeswax has melted completely.

Once melted, turn off the heat and use a potholder to remove the measuring cup from the saucepan. Stir in your essential oils, then pour the blend immediately into a sanitized tin or jar.

Allow the tin to sit in one place on the counter until the mixture has cooled back into a solid.

 This recipe makes one 2.5 ounce tin of salve and will keep for about a year if stored away from light and heat and accessed with clean, dry fingers.


Safety Notes and Other Tips

Since this product contains cayenne powder, you’ll want to avoid applying it to areas where there is broken or damaged skin. The cayenne will sting if it comes in contact with such areas.

This is a warming product. It would be best suited for things that indicate a lack of heat; think of things like a lack of circulation, blue hands and feet, dull, aching pain, or bruising. This recipe is not a good choice for things that are already showing signs of heat and inflammation, such as a rash or any place where there is redness.

If you prefer softer salves, you can increase the amount of carrier oil in this recipe to 2.5 or even 3 ounces. I recommend trying the recipe as it is written the first time, then adapting for future makes.

To use the salve, massage a small amount into the skin wherever there is pain or inflammation that would be relieved by a heating pad. If you use a lot of the salve, it can stain the skin, so make sure to only use the amount you need to find relief. Avoid allowing the salve to come into contact with clothing, since the turmeric could potentially stain it.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Much love,


Erin Stewart is an herbalist, NAHA certified aromatherapist, organic gardener and urban homesteader. She grows over 150 kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants for her own apothecary and distills essential oils and hydrosols in her PNW garden. Erin is the founder of Floranella and of AromaCulture’s herbalism + aromatherapy magazine.

Want to learn more about herbalism and aromatherapy?

AromaCulture Magazine is filled with educational articles, case studies and recipes written by practicing herbalists and certified aromatherapists. New issues are published each month and issues are available individually or via subscription. Visit for more information.

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8 thoughts on “How to Make Golden Spiced Salve”

  1. This looks like a lovely preparation. Would it be good for arthritis in the thumbs-hot and painful?

    Thank you

    1. Erin Stewart

      Hi Sandrina! It might be. Does applying heat to the thumbs when they’re hurting help to ease the pain? If so, then this might help. If heat aggravates the pain, however, I wouldn’t recommend it.

      Much love,

  2. Kevin Decoteau

    I am in the beginning of my interest in herbs for health, also planning on beginning my more formal studies with Rosemary Gladstar within months. Thank you for this information.

  3. RGail Russell

    Erin, could one replace the powdered tumeric with a tumeric essential oil? And, if so, how many drops would you recommend?
    Thank you

    1. Erin Stewart

      I would go with a 2-3% dilution. It’s pretty potent so not much is needed. =)

  4. Pingback: 2018 Recipe Roundup – Floranella

  5. Terri Atterbury

    Is cayenne powder the same as the cayenne pepper sold in the spice aisle?

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