NOTE: These steps are not necessarily in order
A JAR: Several weeks ago (March? April) I was haunting the internet to find a small jar to put an herbal salve in. A friend who has been making it for years agreed to help me out. Folks want $2 a jar for small jars! Ack! By the way, mountainroseherbs.com is the place to go. But build up a list of things to get all at the same time, so the shipping doesn't hurt too awful much. And thanks, Rachel!
So I bought the 1 1/2 ounce jars like this:
WHAT HERBS TO USE: At the same time, I was deciding what herbs I wanted to use. Depending on where you live, different herbs will be naturally abundant. If you are urban or suburban, maybe you can grow your own. I have some herbs that grow like wild. -- Well, a fair few of them are wild. -- I didn't put them there. But if you know your plant neighbors, you are going to know what's in your yard. And if you research them, you'll know if you can use them in a salve.
Be sure of what plants are. -- Be very very sure. Read a lot. Have more than two books to help you. (I like this one, "Plant Identify Terminology," because of the drawings.) If you're not a reader, look at the pictures very carefully and find books with close-up and distance shots of plants. I have my faves, but they are regional to me, so: find someone who knows plants, and bring them to your house to help you.
Using the Latin names, VERY CAREFULLY use the internet to find photos. I say "be careful" because I know a very good number of herbs by Latin name and I know what they look like absolutely, and I will look for a Latin name using a search engine and I will find some other plant pictured, so: Be. very. careful. with. the. Internet! It's a nice tool, but a nice tool can be dangerous if not used with care. Think machete. Think chainsaw. Be careful!
If you can't or won't grow your own, Mountain Rose Herbs or Frontier Herbs offer quality organic and certified organic herbs and send them right to your door. You can use an online search for all kinds of herbs and buy them from a bazillion different places, you can buy them in bulk from local stores and from HyVee, and you can get herbs on ebay. But Mtn Rose and Frontier are known quality. ... Your yard will be known quality (unless you have an idiot landlord).
Think about what you want your salve to be good for. Do you need a moisturizing salve? a healing salve? Is it a beauty product or an anti-fungal? Do you need a salve you can rub on the chest of someone with a cold?
You can use your favorite herb books and search engine to decide which herbs would be the best for your salve. I can't tell you how many herb books I have. Some are mainly plant books, but include information on the plants' properties. Use all the sources you want to and come to your own conclusions. (I really enjoy the research.) *** Take notes. *** Think it through. *** Sleep on it.