Balms & Salves

What is a Balm?
A balm is a aromatic ointment use to soothe or heal the skin. Even though creams, balms, and ointments are used in the same context, balms are best used for protecting the skin and creams are best used for hydrating the skin. Balms don't contain any water and are made from beeswax and/or plant oils. 

What is a Salve?
A salve is a semi-solid medicinal preparation usually made with herbs, herb infused oils, and beeswax as a base. Dried herbs are typically used in order to keep the mixture from spoiling. Herbal salves are used to treat a variety of skin conditions including scrapes, burns, treating chapped skin, sunburn, bruises, stings, cuts, bites, and any other skin irritations. They are also used to carry herbs for a specific effect, such as a vapor balm for decongesting.

A typical salve comes in an easy to use container, that can be accessed using a clean finger, cotton swab, or small tool. The mixture should be easy to spread over the injury without aggrevation. Salves are sometimes called unguents.

What is an Ointment?
An ointment contains fats or oils and is heated with herbs. The herbs protect against injury or inflammation of damaged skin and carry active medicinal components to the injured area. Ointments form a seperate layer on the surface of the skin and as such are particularly useful where protection from moisture is needed.

An ointment can be made with dozens of bases and can vary widely in cosistency depending on the ingrediants used. Some herbalists favor petroleum jelly or paraffin wax as a base. However, beeswax is the most traditional ingredient used to solidify the ointment mixture. Ointments are typically softer and looser then salves.

What is the difference between a Salve and an Ointment?
A salve and an ointment are basically the same thing: a semi-solid herbal mixture intended to aid in external healing. They are generally healing, nourishing to the skin, emollient, protective, and antimicrobial. Which you would choose depends on your needs and preferences.

Why Should I Use a Salve or an Ointment?
We all get sick or sore; it's a fact of life. You might use an ointment or salve to help treat arthritis pains, sore muscles and joints, bruises, abrasions, cuts, coughs due to colds, head colds, throat congestions, sinus issues, and headaches. For such ailmetns, a product is required that both protects the skin and penetrates it to carry the healing herbs. Amish Origins Deep Penetrating Pain Relief and Greaseless Lotion Pain Relief are two examples of a salve that does just that.

For strictly pain relief, an ointment (with its layer-forming properties) such as Tiger Balm provides safe, fast, and cost-effective relief from muscle aches and arthritis joint pain. Tiger Balm in particular is widely used to treat minor aches and pains associated with arthritis, arthritis joint pain, backaches, stiffness, and muscle strains and sprains.


  • Balms, ointments, and salves are for external use only.
  • Use only as directed.
  • Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes.
  • Do not apply to wounds, damaged, or irritated skin.
  • Do not bandage, cover with a wrap, or use heating pad.
  • Do not use 1 hour prior to bathing or 30 minutes after bathing.
  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • If your condition worsens or does not get better after 7 days, discontinue use and consult a physician.
  • If swallowed, contact a Poison Control Center right away.
  • Store at room temperature.

To learn more, check out some of our other informational pages on ointments, creams, salves, and balms:

Salves & Balms Topical & Facial