1800s Healing Salve Recipe from a reader included in With All My Heart—Book 2, Discerning God’s Best series

When writing With All My Heart, I requested help from my readers to locate a period-appropriate recipe. I was thinking of cake or cookies, but Joan Archibald shared her great-great-grandmother’s recipe for Healing Salve, and I knew it had to be a part of the story. This unique recipe, or one like it, was often used in the late 1800s American West.

The history of the recipe

Sarah Roper Dimmick, Joan’s great-great grandmother, lived in Fayette, Utah. (Pictured in the circle above) Sarah’s parents immigrated from England and then traveled across the United States, pushing and pulling a handcart. Salves and liniments of this time would have been topical preparations generally used to treat common skin, scalp, and hair problems. I can imagine there were many blisters, splinters, and rashes on that journey. These first-aid ointments were the precursors of today’s products, such as Mentholatum, Bag Balm, and White Cloverine. Did you know Robert Chesebrough’s petroleum jelly recipe under the name Vaseline was patented in 1872?


The recipe calls for a piece of pine tar the size of a walnut, which Joan remembers her grandfather and uncles collecting. Joan also remembers using the salve on a splinter covered by a bandage, and it would draw out the sliver in less than a day.


Keeping with family tradition, Joan’s mother taught her to cook on a wood-burning stove, and she knows how difficult it is to make items, especially baked goods, turn out correctly—something Rachel never mastered.

Rachel and Singing Bird work together in With All My Heart* to whip up a batch of this special salve. If you want to know how they used it, be sure to read Book two in my Discerning God’s Best series to find out.

Healing Salve Recipe

¾ cup Lard

¾ cup Mutton Tallow

Sticky pine gum, egg-sized

Beeswax, egg-sized

Pine tar, the size of a walnut

1 tsp allspice

2 Tbsp sugar

1 oz sulfur

3 oz rosin

1 oz borax

Put in a pot in the order given here. Do not stir. Melt together on the back of the stove.

I knew most of the ingredients but had to look up rosin. According to Wikipedia, rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch, is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi-transparent and varies in color from yellow to black.

I always enjoy having readers contribute to my stories, but this recipe made the scene with Singing Bird and Rachel in the kitchen feel real. If you’d like to contribute to one of my stories, please sign up for my monthly newsletter, where you’ll receive a FREE book and opportunities to get behind-the-scenes sneak peeks and insider information.

*Please note this is an affiliate link. As always, it costs you nothing extra, and it all goes to my chocolate fund.

Published by Author Heidi Gray McGill

Heidi and her husband of over thirty years live in South Carolina. Besides writing Christian fiction with relatable characters in life-changing stories, Heidi relishes time with family and friends. She enjoys scrapbooking, playing games, traveling, and building bridges with her grandsons that must fall with a loud crash and usually involve a monster truck.

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