Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Four Thieves Blend Hand Salve

Image of a lemon, cinnamon, rosemary sprig, and eucalyptus sprig.
It keeps my hands soft and is rumored to ward off the plague!

I recently learned of an essential oil blend called Four Thieves Blend, and I decided to put its use to test in the form of a hand salve.

Four Thieves Blend has a long and varied history, including use by physicians and citizens in England and France during the long history of the plague (Young Living Essential Oils, 2012).  It is rumored that grave robbers during the 15th Century used a blend of herbs and vinegar to protect themselves from the plague-ridden bodies they were robbing.  When caught, the rumor goes, they fessed-up to having used the herbs in order to be given a lighter sentence (Wolansky, 2012; Young Living Essential Oils, 2012).

The Four Thieves Blend Oils

There are several practical applications for this blend in the 21st Century, including cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces, scrubbing floors, polishing furniture, warding off illnesses, and making homes smell nice. Whether or not the historical plague-fighting rumors are true, the oils used in the blend, including clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary, have “antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-infectious properties” (Wolansky, 2012).

Although there is a brand name for this blend of essential oils, I chose to create my own blend using the recipe available on the Mountain Rose Blog and essential oils from our local health food store.  Because I am already aware of the warming properties of clove and cinnamon by way of teas and powders, I was interested in taking full advantage of the warming properties of the clove, cinnamon and eucalyptus oils in a new way. I looked for ways to incorporate this blend into a solution for my often cold hands and feet, and after looking through several books and Web sites about herbal properties and the use of essential oils, I decided to create a simple salve to apply to my hands and feet that should warm them when applied.  That the salve might ward off the plague without harsh pharmaceuticals I feel is definitely a bonus.

Making a Hand Salve

My first step was the test my sensitivity to the oils, so I applied one drop each of clove, cinnamon, lemon, rosemary, and eucalyptus to my wrist.  I could feel the skin tingle and warm, but my skin did not turn red or irritated, so I continued with my salve.

In order to create my salve, I used items I had in my home.  I used ¾ cup safflower oil, an oil known for its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties, and approximately 1 ounce of paraffin wax.  To the bottoms of each of two small canning jars, I added 15 drops of my homemade Four Thieves Blend, plus an extra 10 drops each of clove, cinnamon, and eucalyptus oils. I melted the paraffin wax with the Safflower oil in a saucepan on the stove, and I slowly spooned it into the small canning jars.  I let the salve cool completely before adding the lids so as to prevent would-be condensation in the jars.

Using the Hand Salve

The salve firmed to a state the consistency of petroleum-jelly, and a little went a long way when applied.  I applied a fingertip amount to my hands, then used what was left on my hands to rub my feet.  I put socks over my feet and went to bed.  The tingling and warming was weaker, of course, than with the undiluted drops I had tested, but I could feel the warmth of the oils. The Safflower oil also lived up to its reputation, and my hands and feet felt exceptionally smooth in the morning.

If you try or have tried various uses and recipes for Four Thieves Blend, please share your own experiences and recipes with me in the comments section below this post.  As a side note, if I were to make another batch, I would probably use coconut oil instead of safflower oil to keep the salve more firm.

Special Note

Please keep in mind that if you choose to try this for yourself, you must follow some safety precautions. When creating my salve, I did heed the safety warnings given by the makers and sellers of the essential oils. First and foremost, these essential oils are not meant to be ingested. Secondly, I played it safe with the salve and did not add too much of any one of the essential oils because some people have sensitivity to certain oils. I will test the salve and strengthen or weaken it as per my family’s needs.  Even though my method was more experimental than professional, I took the appropriate measure to remain safe in the kitchen.

Additionally, please consult a doctor for any serious medical condition.  I do not recommend essential oils in lieu of proper medical care.


  • Young Living Essential Oils. (2012). Four Thieves Vinegar: Evolution of a Medieval Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.secretofthieves.com/four-thieves-vinegar.cfm
  • Wolansky, I. (2012). Recipe: Four Thieves Oil. The Mountain Rose Blog Daily Herbal Musings. Retrieved from http://mountainroseblog.com/thieves-oil/

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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