How to Make 4 Simple Apothecary Recipes

4 Simple Apothecary Recipes

Our gardens are abundant with plant materials we can use to create a medicinal apothecary to have on hand at home. Here are 4 easy recipes to get started.

    1. Peppermint Lip Balm
    2. Calendula Salve
    3. Elderberry Syrup
    4. Herbal Vinegars

But before you dive in, there are a few important precautions.

Take Care

  • I’m not a qualified herbalist and I have no other training in this area, so the information I’m sharing is simply from my own reading and experiences.
  • Be cautious.
  • Understand your own personal and medical needs.
  • Don’t eat or drink any home remedy without first checking with your doctor or a qualified professional.
  • But have fun creating beautiful blends, products and scents for your home.

Key Concepts

  • Teas, Tisanes or Infusions – leaves or flowers steeped in boiling water
  • Decoctions – roots, barks and woody parts simmered in water for at least 10 minutes
  • Tinctures – flowers, leaves, roots or barks steeped in alcohol (usually vodka)
  • Infused Oils – flowers, leaves, roots or barks steeped in oil
  • Salves and Balms – infused oil with beeswax
  • Creams and Lotions – emulsion of water-based and oil-based preparations 
  • Infused Honeys – flowers, fruit, leaves or roots steeped in honey
  • Syrups – flowers, fruit, leaves or roots cooked with sugar or honey
  • Herbal Vinegars -flowers, fruit, leaves or roots steeped in vinegar (often apple cider vinegar)
  • Poultices – plant material applied directly to the skin and covered with gauze or a bandage
  • Compresses – cloth soaked in an infusion or decoction and applied to the skin

Balms and Salves

General Principles
  • Balms and salves are created by adding beeswax to an infused oil and then heating gently.
  • Use more beeswax for a thicker balm.
  • Pour into wide-mouthed jars and seal.
  • The waxy mixture solidifies as it cools.
  • Keeps for up to 2 years.

1. Peppermint Lip Balm

  • 3 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 3 teaspoons shea butter
  • 3 teaspoons organic beeswax
  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  1. Melt all ingredients (except the essential oil) together in a double boiler.
  2. Cool slightly.
  3. Add 20 drops of peppermint essential oil.
  4. Transfer to a small jar.

2. Calendula Salve

  • 2 tablespoons organic beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 3 tablespoons comfrey-infused oil
  • 3 tablespoons calendula-infused oil
  • 20 drops each of lavender and tea tree essential oil
  1. Melt all ingredients (except the essential oils) together in a double boiler.
  2. Cool slightly.
  3. Add 20 drops each of lavender and tea tree essential oil.
  4. Transfer to a small jar.


General Principles
  • Syrups are much like a runny jam.
  • Boil plant material in water with sugar or honey.
  • Strain then store in sterilised jars or bottles.
  • Keeps for up to 1 year if unopened.
  • Refrigerate after opening (then keep for up to 3 months).

3. Elderberry Syrup

  • 1 cup dried elderberries
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups organic raw sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • Boil together for ½ hour, strain, bottle.

4. Herbal Vinegars

General Principles
  • Vinegar extracts the essential constituents.
  • Apple cider vinegar is commonly used.
  • Steep herbs in vinegar in a glass jar for a few weeks.
  • Strain, bottle and store for 6 months or more.
  • Use in cooking, or as hair rinse, or in a bath.
  • ½ fill a large glass bottle or jar with fresh herbs and spices
  • Italian – use fresh basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, and garlic.
  • Asian – use crushed fresh ginger, lemongrass, chilli, and garlic.
  • Fill to the top with apple cider vinegar.
  • Steep for a few weeks.
  • Strain and bottle.
  • Add a few extra fresh herbs or spices for decoration and extra flavour (optional).

Drying Plant Materials

  • Drying allows us to use plants out of season.
  • Air Drying: Hang upside down out of direct sunlight for at least 2 weeks until crispy.
  • Oven Drying: Place on a tray in the oven on lowest setting for 5 hours or longer.

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Plants from an apothecary garden