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:
- Two cups of rough chopped jewelweed
- One cup of carrier oil (old time recipes would often use castor oil but any vegetable oil will work such as olive oil, almond oil, etc.)
- One cup of coconut oil (optional but helps produce a much smoother, easily applied salve)
- One cup of beeswax
- Small pot
- Metal can or large Mason jar (this will get waxy so don’t use anything you’re attached to)
- 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 your carrier oil.
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 steep it in a carrier oil first.
Remove the roots from the jewelweed and give it a quick wash. Rough chop it and put it in your metal can or Mason jar. Pour the cup of your carrier oil on top of the jewelweed.
Don’t worry if the oil doesn’t completely cover the jewelweed, as it will cook down some over time and it doesn’t need to be completely covered.
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 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.
Once it has steeped, strain off all the plant material and discard so that you’re left with just the 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 beeswax and coconut oil to your can or jar and heat on low heat until both are completely melted and liquid.
Add your infused oil to your melted beeswax and coconut oil and stir. You can add essential oils at this step if you’d like, with lavender oil, peppermint oil, and rosemary oil popular options.
Once your mixture is melted 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.
The basic recipe calls for two parts solid (beeswax and coconut oil) to one part oil (your carrier oil), so use that same ratio to produce a salve that’s soft enough to apply without being too waxy or hard to get out of your container.
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!