Chaparral salve – a simple soothing blend of chaparral, olive oil and beeswax, wonderful to support minor cuts, scrapes, burns and dry skin.
One of my favorite things about the Arizona desert is chaparral. I know, it’s a weird thing to love, but if you have ever lived in the desert or in a desert climate you probably know this plant very well.
And you might not realize you even know what this plant is.
Chaparral is a plant that is popular in the hot, desert climate – Mojave desert, here in Arizona and even in northern Mexico. It can survive in the harshest of conditions – dry, hot, extreme heat. In fact, the plant is actually known to kill its offspring to reduce growing competition.
In other words, it wants space.
And if something (another chaparral plant) is in it’s “space”, it’ll kill that offspring plant just to keep an even spacing between each other.
The chaparral plant is commonly known as the Creosote Bush – or, greasewood plant. For centuries, it has been a traditional healing herb used for a variety of topical applications.
The stems and leaves of the bush are covered with a sticky resin that screens leaves against ultraviolet radiation, reduces water loss, and poisons or repels most herbivores. This resin is used in herbalism and to protect wood from insects.
The plant itself has some incredible properties that make it wonderful to use for skin support, but also for many other areas of the body.
What makes Creosote (or, Desert Chaparral) so amazing?
Chaparral is wonderful for both internal and topical use. When used as a salve and applied to skin, it can help with cuts, scrapes, burns, and even dry skin/eczema.
When used internally, it is to be taken as a tincture in tea – 1 tsp per one quart of water.
- Chaparral is antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory.
- The plant can promote the healing of minor wounds, scrapes, cuts and skin issues.
- Chaparral salve (creosote) is not only good for topical applications, it’s also a great anti-viral medicine.
- Native Americans have used Chaparral to treat a variety of illnesses, including cancer. Chaparral has an ingredient called NDGA – a potent anti-tumor agent (you can read more here).
As helpful as chaparral can be, when over-used (as a tea) it can create problems with the liver and lead to nausea.
That can also happen with plenty of other things too though. We must always keep in mind that although this is an option for many, it takes away from the profitable pharmaceutical companies so it’s best to do your own research.
Making Chaparral Salve (Creosote)
Making chaparral salve at home isn’t incredibly hard – it just requires time and patience. If you live in a place like I do (Arizona) you can wildcraft chaparral yourself. There are many areas that allow you to gather it safely and away from areas that have high traffic/dust/pollution.
I have an abundance of areas near my residence where I can find chaparral – but then I am also blessed to have it in my backyard, too.
#1: Infuse your Chaparral in your choice of carrier oil
Fill up a mason jar half way with your chaparral. You can use fresh chaparral or, dried – I prefer to use dried chaparral because I feel like the oily infusion lasts longer. But fresh herbs can be placed in oil as long as they are not damp.
Then fill the same jar to within an inch of the top with your choice of carrier oil – extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil or even grapeseed oil.
Tightly cap that jar and set it out on a sunny windowsill to infuse over the next four weeks. Every day, shake it to give that jar some love. Just be careful if you have small children – you could also set it on the back patio, too.
My chaparral infused over the course of seven weeks. I started mine in a sunny window, then put it on the back patio, and then brought it back in. The oil will not go bad as long as the dried herb is left “in” the oil.
#2: Strain your Chaparral
Pull out a strainer or line a bowl with a thick piece of cheesecloth, and strain the herbs from the oil. Your oil will smell fragrant – like the smell of the desert after a fresh rain – simply amazing!
(If you don’t have cheesecloth, check out some of these other things you can use in place that work just as well).
#3: Finish your salve
Finish making your salve by combining 1 C. of infused chaparral oil to 1/4 C. organic beeswax. Use a double broiler, or if easier, place your infused oil & beeswax in a glass Pyrex measuring cup. Then set that measuring cup in a saucepan with two to three inches of water (not too much where the water goes into the measuring cup).
Use the lowest stovetop heat and give it a stir every minute or two until the mixture is melted. Avoid cranking up the heat because you can risk shattering the Pyrex cup or the makeshift jar you are using.
Once melted, remove from the heat and set up your jars (this recipe will fill four 2-oz tins). Pour that hot liquid into the jars/tins. I love using 2 oz tins, but you can also use glass jars. Allow those jars/tins too sit – do not move them!
My jars were a golden yellow, but dried to a yellowish green color.
Wait a few hours for the salve to harden up – if you move them, even slightly, during the process, you’ll ruin the perfect tops on your salve. (Ask me how I know! My kids moved my tray and the finished product wasn’t too pretty!)
#4: Cap & Label
Feel free to label the jars after they are finished – you will want to make note of the ingredients, and the weight. You might also want to note on the label how the chaparral salve is meant to be used.
If you plan on selling your chaparral salve, you’ll want to check out the FDA standards for labeling. The instructions I have directly above do not follow FDA standards, especially if you plan on selling! The FDA requires sellers to adhere to strict standards and you will need to familiarize yourself with those standards.
Enjoy your salve – keep it in a cool place and use topically, as needed.
(Don’t feel like making your own salve? You can find Chaparral (Creosote) Salve in our online shop.