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How to Make Black Drawing Salve

Updated on April 15, 2015
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Black drawing salve, also known as ichthammol salve or black ointment, has been used for generations as an all-purpose medicated salve for almost any ailment. It is reputed to be able to create miracles, healing nearly any condition that a person might have from acne to cancer. While those claims may be a wee bit exaggerated, black drawing ointment has an excellent track record of drawing impurities out of the body.

Remember, it is important to always check with your health care provider before using black salve or any other medication. If your symptoms persist be sure to call your doctor. If you are experiencing high fever, extended nausea, or intense pain go to the emergency room or call 911. Don't take chances with your health!

various herbs and essential oils can be added to homemade drawing salve.
various herbs and essential oils can be added to homemade drawing salve. | Source

What Is Black Drawing Salve Used For?

Some of the conditions that black salve is used for are:

  • Acne
  • Bites of all kinds
  • Boils
  • Infections
  • Splinters
  • Stingers
  • Thorns

How Drawing Salve Works

Black drawing salve works by pulling toxins out of the body, somewhat like a magnet pulls iron ore out of other materials. The salve normally includes important detoxing ingredients like activated charcoal and bentonite clay. Herbs and essential oils are added for their healing properties, immunity boosters, and aroma.

The salve is simply placed on the boil, splinter or other skin condition. A gauze pad is placed over the top to protect the area and sometimes a warm compress is added. The ingredients in the salve bring the infection to a head and to allow it to drain away while fighting further infection at the same time.

Making Black Drawing Salve

Basic Recipe for Black Drawing Salve

For generations grandmothers and mothers handed down family recipes for drawing salve with the caveat that it was to be kept a closely guarded secret. Each family used slightly different ingredients to create their salve. Each felt that their recipe was the best. You can vary the essential oils to customize your drawing salve recipe to your own needs.

Black Drawing Salve Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons bees wax (creates a base)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa butter (soothing and creates a base)
  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil (antibacterial but it must be organic)
  • 3 tablespoons shea butter (soothing)
  • 2 tablespoons activated charcoal powder (absorbs toxins)
  • 4 tablespoons bentonite clay (absorbs toxins and draws them out)
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil (antibacterial)
  • 1 tablespoon vitamin E oil (soothing and healing)
  • ¼ teaspoon goldenseal (antibacterial, antifungal)
  • 2 drops of camphor, optional


  1. Place the cocoa butter, coconut oil, shea butter, and bees wax in a pot with a candy thermometer.
  2. Heat to 180F over medium heat, watching carefully and stirring often.
  3. Turn the heat down and keep the mixture at 180F for 20 minutes.
  4. Cool to lukewarm
  5. Add the remaining ingredients.
  6. Pour into sterile jars with tops, label, and store in a cool, dark cupboard.

Yield: Approximately 4 ounces

Finding Ingredients

At one time all of the ingredients for drawing salves were readily available at the general store and growing naturally in the surrounding countryside. It may be a bit more difficult to find the ingredients in modern times, however the Internet has several sources for the ingredients you need. A quick check of Google, or your own favorite search engine should help you find what you need fairly quickly. You can also check with your local natural foods/health foods store. Many will carry these ingredients.


While black drawing salve is safe for the majority of people that use it some individuals could have an allergic reaction. Check the ingredients for things you know you are allergic to. Always use with caution and rub the salve into a small area on your inner forearm to check for possible allergies or reactions.

If you develop a rash, itching, burning, or other unusual response to the black drawing salve be sure to call your health care provider and discontinue use of the salve immediately.

Storing the Healing Salve

Pour the black healing salve into small jars that have been dipped in boiling water. Cover tightly with a lid and keep in a cool, dry place. The medication will be ready for you anytime you need it. It works for skin conditions on your pets, too.

© 2012 Marye Audet


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    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 5 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      thank you Marcy. I think some of those old remedies were the best!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      My family used to have some sort of black-tar salve around, used for anything from a bite or other irritation to aches and pains. My dad swore by it, and he also insisted we wrap flannel around our necks when we were sick (who had flannel available? We just used some strips of cloth). I think we had to put Vaporub on our chests at the same time. We sure had a smelly house when we were sick.

      Very interesting hub,and useful. Voted so, and voted up.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 5 years ago from Michigan

      Great Hub. I am into using holistic alternatives whenever possible. Gotta make this!

      Thank You for posting this.

      Bookmarked, Voted Up and Useful!


    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

      I have heard of this before, but never used it personally. I took a class on how to make your own salves and found it was really easy. I will try this one. Thanks.

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 6 years ago from California

      I have never heard of this salve. I appreciate all the information thank you. Your mom was put together nicely and easy to follow

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      Quite interesting how salves work. They were used quite frequently before modern medicine was developed. I am glad to see you posted where to get the ingredients to the recipe. I wonder if this would also work for snake bites? Great hub article and one that will so useful for many people. Thanks for writing it!

    • Audiogeek profile image

      Audiogeek 6 years ago

      anyone tried this? does it work?

    • BakingBread-101 profile image

      BakingBread-101 6 years ago from Nevada

      Wow! I grew up with ichthammol salve. You could get it at the drug store. Then they discontinued it--said it was no longer available in the United States because it was not FDA approved. An acquaintance of mine brought me a bit from Australia many years ago. It is great stuff. Got an ant bite-put a dab on and away goes the pain and itch. Same for any other bites, boils, infections.

      You cannot eat this stuff to clear out internal infections. It is for external use only. As silly as this sounds, you might want to mention that in your hub.

      I'm thrilled to have the recipe! Thank you for sharing it.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      I remember black drawing salve. I once had what we call a carbuncle above my eye and we used black drawing salve to get it out. It worked but I still have a scar there. My Mom always kept the salve around in case any one got boils. At one time it could be bought in the drug store. I remember how it smelled of tar.

    • Donna Huebsch profile image

      Donna Fairley Huebsch 6 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      Sounds very interesting - reminds me of when my mom & grandma used to make remedies and cleaning products instead of buying them...a dying art!

    • thesingernurse profile image

      thesingernurse 6 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Thank you very much for sharing. People should be checking out more natural remedies these days. :D

    • K. Burns Darling profile image

      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Great hub with useful information. My grandmother was half Irish and half American Indian, she grew up in rural Oklahoma, and in my memory she is always coating me with homemade salves, and tying stinky socks (my dad told me that they weren't actually socks, but that is how my child's eye remembers it), around my neck to cure my sore throats. There is a lot to be said for homeopathic remedies.... we are becoming to dependent on antibiotics and chemical based medicines. I am bookmarking this for future use. Voted up, useful, and interesting. Share and posted to my Facebook wall.

    • Don Simkovich profile image

      Don Simkovich 6 years ago from Pasadena, CA

      I've never heard of black drawing salve. Sounds fascinating. I'm going to bookmark this hub and I'm glad I came across it. I've been reading your hubs on occasion to see how you structure them and what topics you select. This is quite useful. I'm glad you wrote it. Voted up and useful.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Amazing stuff! I've heard of the drawing salves from older relatives, but am glad to see this posted. We need to know the old remedies that have gone by the wayside! Thanks much.