Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is an herb native to North America that has been used for many, many years as a natural remedy for poison ivy and poison oak.
We include jewelweed and plantain in our Quitch itch relief salve and it is one of the best natural treatments we’ve found.
It can be very effective for poison ivy and also helps with mosquito bites, chigger bites, and other insect bites and skin irritation.
Jewelweed and other impatiens have high levels of certain naphthoquinones that can be effective anti-inflammatories and in treating contact dermatitis.
How to Make Jewelweed Salve
Learning how to make jewelweed salve is easy and the hardest part is often finding fresh jewelweed.
Jewelweed likes wet, moist soil conditions and can often be found growing on the banks of creeks or streams.
You might know jewelweed by the name “Touch-me-nots”. It develops a pod with projectile seeds that shoot out and explode when touched or brushed against.
Jewelweed plants can grow up to five feet tall and they tend to grow in clumps.
Their distinctive three-lobed orange flowers emerge in summer or fall and make spotting jewelweed much easier.
You’ll need to find fresh plants for your jewelweed salve as the natural oils in the leaves and stems are what you’re after.
Jewelweed has very shallow roots and can easily be uprooted and collected with just a gentle tug.
You’ll also need the most common type of jewelweed — Impatiens capensis — with its distinctive orange flowers and not yellow jewelweed, as orange jewelweed is more effective in treating poison ivy and other skin irritations.
A little jewelweed salve goes a long way, so you’ll only need to gather up a few plants — enough to leave you with a cup or two of jewelweed plant after you later rough chop the stems and leaves.
What You’ll Need to Make Jewelweed Salve
Once you have your jewelweed, you’ll need the following items to make jewelweed salve:
- Fresh, chopped jewelweed (we use stems, leaves, and flowers when it is flowering)
- 3.5 oz. of olive oil (you can also use other common carrier oils such as rice bran oil, almond oil, etc.)
- 2.6 oz. of coconut oil
- 2.6 oz. of shea butter
- 0.8 oz. of cocoa butter
- 1.0 oz. of beeswax
- 0.4 oz. of essential oils or fragrance oils
- Small pot
- Metal can or large Mason jar (this will get waxy so don’t use anything you’re attached to)
- Strainer and cheesecloth
- Containers to put your finished salve in
Making Jewelweed Salve
The first step is to extract the oil from the jewelweed, which we’ll do by steeping it on low heat in your can/jar along with the olive oil or carrier oil. You can also solar infuse your jewelweed or any other herbs that you’d like to include in a salve.
Including plant material directly into a salve isn’t a good idea, as it can create mold and cause your salve to go rancid so you’ll always want to infuse it first.
When infusing with fresh herbs, it’s recommended to fill your jar about half full with fresh herb then cover with your carrier oil, which for this recipe is olive oil. We recommend using at least 5-6 oz. of olive oil when infusing; you’ll only use 3.5 oz. for this recipe but having extra on hand is nice and you lose a little oil later when straining off the jewelweed plant material.
Add a few inches of water to your pot and put it over very low heat on your stove. Put your can/jar with jewelweed and olive oil in the pot.
Let that steep for at least a few hours on very low heat, adding a little more water when necessary. Don’t boil the water, as you want just enough heat so that the can or jar is very warm to the touch. Several hours of steeping should be sufficient but some people steep for 24 hours.
When infusing fresh herbs, you want to strain off the plant material within 24 hours, as the residual water and other material can cause your infused oil to go rancid or mold.
Once it has steeped, strain off all the plant material with a strainer and cheesecloth and discard the plant material so that you’re left with just the infused olive oil. It should be a dark green to orangeish color after absorbing the jewelweed oil. Set aside the infused oil.
Wipe out your can or jar and place it back in your pot, making sure it once again has a few inches of water in the bottom.
Add your coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and beeswax to your can or jar and heat on low heat until both are completely melted and liquid. The beeswax has the highest melting point at around 170F and will be the last ingredient to melt; turn up your heat slightly if necessary to melt the beeswax.
Once those ingredients are liquid, remove from heat and let it cool for a bit. Add your infused olive oil and and stir. You can then add essential oils if you’d like, with lavender oil, peppermint oil, and rosemary oil popular options.
Once your mixture is completely melted, liquid, and well-stirred, it’s time to pour into your containers and call it a day. Any tin or jar will work for keeping your salve in
Congratulations, you just made jewelweed salve!
You can easily scale this recipe up or down to make more or less salve. This basic recipe will make fill 2-3 small jars of salve, depending on the size of container that you’re using.
If this sounds like far too much work or you can’t find fresh jewelweed, we’d love to sell you a jar of our Quitch jewelweed salve!