Black Drawing Salve – A Must-Have for Your First-Aid Kit

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While spring and summer are glorious seasons, they often spawn casualties. When outside, you may encounter plants and bugs that are harmful to your skin. A natural treatment called black drawing salve speeds recovery from mishaps. Keep it handy for your outdoor adventures!

Calling all toxins

Black drawing salve has two detoxifying ingredients:

  • activated charcoal
  • bentonite clay

These substances act like magnets, pulling foreign objects, impurities, and poisons from skin. The drawing action is two-fold. First, the charcoal and clay soften your skin. Then, they pull blood to the treated area. The increased circulation drives out unwanted entities.

Additionally, activated charcoal soothes irritation and itching. Bentonite clay is mineral-rich. Made of volcanic ash, it oxygenates your skin while the minerals bind to toxins.

Depending on brand, a drawing salve may include these herbs, essential oils, and skin conditioners:

  • calendula – anti-inflammatory
  • chamomile – antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory
  • plantain – itch reliever
  • echinacea – combats infection
  • comfrey – reduces pain
  • coconut oil – moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic
  • beeswax – thickening and binding agent
  • honey – antibacterial, moisturizing
  • frankincense – prevents infection and scars
  • lavender – calms redness, kills germs, eases irritation
  • Vitamin E – expedites skin repair, prevents scarring

With a pasty consistency, the salve is commonly sold in small jars. The activated charcoal imparts a black color while the clay prevents greasiness.

Black drawing salve uses

In the US, black drawing salve was created by native Indians to pull infection from the body. In the 1800s, the treatment gained popularity, especially favored by the Amish. The ointment is amenable to a range of skin insults, including:

1. splinters
2. thorns and burrs
3. boils
4. spider bites
5. bee stings
6. cystic acne
7. poison ivy, oak, and sumac

NOTE – To avoid staining fabrics, after applying the salve, be sure to cover your skin with a bandage or cloth.

1. Black drawing salve for splinters

For slivers of plastic, glass, metal, and wood, first try extraction with alcohol-sterilized tweezers. If the fragment is embedded in your skin, cleanse the area with soap and water, followed by drying. Then, dab a pea-sized amount of salve on the splinter, and cover with a bandage.

The day after treatment, remove the bandage to see if the splinter has dislodged. If so, remove it with tweezers. If not, re-treat the area with black drawing salve.

How to Remove a Splinter ?

2. Black drawing salve for for thorns and Burrs

Keep this salve handy in case you’re snagged by prickly plants, such as roses, blackberries, cacti, raspberries, thorny weeds, and vegetation with burrs. Use as for splinters.

3. Black drawing salve for boils

A boil is a skin infection involving an oil gland or hair follicle. Also called a skin abscess, it starts as a red bump. Within four to seven days, germs cause pus to build under the skin, and the lump turns white.

Before applying salve to a boil, drive pus to the surface with a warm compress. The heat will help release the pus, expediting healing. To make a compress, soak a washcloth in hot water, and wring it out. If you have tea tree essential oil, dispense one drop on the boil. Tea tree oil kills bacteria and concentrates pus. Then, place the compress on the boil for five minutes, followed by drying your skin.

Next, apply drawing salve to the boil, and cover with a bandage. Within 24 hours, the pus should drain, and your skin will start healing.

NOTE – After treating a boil, always wash your hands thoroughly, to keep the infection from spreading.

4. Black drawing salve for bug Bites and Stings

The salve neutralizes the poison of spider and mosquito bites and soothes the incessant itch. Smear a small amount of ointment on the bite, and let it dry. For a wasp or bee that leaves a stinger behind, first try to remove it. However, don’t use tweezers. Squeezing the venom sac will send any remaining poison into your skin, increasing pain and swelling.

Instead, gently scrape the stinger with the edge of a credit card or driver’s license. This tactic may release the barb. If not, apply drawing salve, and cover with a bandage.

5. Black drawing salve for cystic Acne

Dabbed on pus-filled pimples, drawing salve reduces their size, pain, redness, and swelling. It also discharges pus. At bedtime, dot small amounts on acne, and cover with Band-Aids.

The next day, resume your normal skincare routine. You may need to treat pimples with the salve for a few days to eliminate them.

6. Black drawing salve for poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

Urushiol is the oil in the leaves of poison ivy, oak, and sumac that causes contact dermatitis. Symptoms include an itchy rash, swollen skin, red streaks, and blisters. You can prevent this reaction by washing urushiol from your skin within two hours of contact. To thoroughly remove urushiol, you need soap, water, and the friction of a damp towel.

If you miss the two-hour window, use black drawing salve. Activated charcoal and bentonite clay draw out and absorb urushiol. Blessedly, the rash dries up faster, and you gain itch relief. Plantain also speeds recovery by healing blisters and soothing itchiness.

Spread the salve over affected skin, and leave on for at least six hours. If the rash involves your arms and legs, you might cover the salve with cotton socks. Cut off the foot sections, and slide the hose over your extremities. For a rash on your trunk or back, after applying the salve, put on an old cotton T-shirt.

Black drawing salve recipe

By making your own paste, you can customize the ingredients to your purpose. Here’s a black drawing salve recipe that you can easily tweak to your liking. 


source : Black Drawing Salve Recipe (Happy Mothering)


Note: Ingredients are linked to retail sources.

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon beeswax pellets
  • 1 teaspoon honey – choose a high quality honey such as Manuka honey
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • 2 teaspoons activated charcoal
  • 1 Tablespoon bentonite clay

Optional Additions

  • 1 Tablespoon dried comfrey, calendula, or plantain
  • 8 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil


  • quart saucepan
  • metal spoon
  • 4-ounce mason jar
  • cheesecloth


  • Fill the saucepan with 2 inches of water, and stand the mason jar upright inside the pot. Fill the jar with coconut oil, beeswax, honey, Vitamin E oil, and herbs.
  • Heat over a low flame until jar contents have melted, about 20 minutes. Stir until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat. When the jar is cool enough to handle, strain out the herbs through cheesecloth.
  • To the mason jar, add the charcoal, clay, and essential oils. Thoroughly stir wet and dry ingredients until smooth. Close the jar tightly with its lid.
  • Let the salve sit for several hours to harden. Store in a cool, dark location.

Buying black drawing salve

If you like the convenience of ready-made salve, here are two retail options, along with their key ingredients. Links take you to the sellers’ websites.

1. THERApotions – activated charcoal, bentonite clay, calendula, echinacea, plantain, comfrey, Vitamin E, and essential oils of lavender, tea tree, and rosemary.

2. Melanie’s Mystical Garden – activated charcoal, kaolin clay, bentonite clay, and essential oils of chamomile, tea tree, and lavender. Melanie’s ointment suits dry, sensitive skin. Kaolin preserves skin oils, relieves itch, and gently exfoliates.


If splinters, thorns, or burrs are deep, obtain professional medical care. Also, promptly see a doctor for severe rashes and infections. Telltale signs are chills, fever, red streaks on skin, and oozing pus.


If you do an Internet search on black drawing salve, you’ll likely come across two risky products – black salve with bloodroot and ichthammol ointment. Don’t buy them! Here’s why these treatments are hazardous to your health.

Black drawing Salve With Bloodroot

This ointment is falsely touted as a cure for skin cancer. The adverse ingredient is the herb bloodroot, botanically known as Sanguinaria canadensis.

Contrary to manufacturer claims, black salve doesn’t extract cancerous cells. While bloodroot is highly corrosive, it doesn’t cure malignancy. On a superficial level, it destroys tissue, but cancerous cells remain.

Therefore, treating skin cancer with bloodroot allows it to spread. Additionally, the herb has severe side effects, including pain, infection, scarring, and disfigurement.

Ichthammol Ointment

Also marketed as black drawing salve, the harmful agent in this product is ichthammol, an oil derived from shale rock. Frequently, the oil is processed with petroleum, as a carrier.

Manufacture also involves neutralization with ammonia, irritating to skin. Moreover, you won’t like the sulfuric odor emitted by shale. Additionally, since petroleum is a non-renewable fossil fuel, I can’t endorse ichthammol ointment.


With its activated charcoal and bentonite clay, black drawing salve pulls toxins and foreign bodies from skin. Use it to:

  • remove splinters, thorns, and burrs
  • ease the itch and pain of bug bites and stings
  • quell the infection of boils and cystic acne
  • heal the rash of poison ivy, oak, and sumac

When shopping for black drawing salve, make sure you obtain the benevolent form, not ichthammol ointment or black salve with bloodroot. With black drawing salve in your first-aid kit, you’re ready for pesky skin conditions. Here’s wishing you a lovely spring and summer!

In the Comments section below, please share with your fellow adventurers the wonders of black drawing salve!

You may also watch this interesting video about the benefits of activated charcoal:

J. Beck, Holistic Nutritionist, CNC & Natural Health Writer

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