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Mama’s Homemade Soothing Burn Salve

Affiliate Disclosure | in Natural Remedies | by | with 42 Comments

homemade burn remedy

Grab The Cobwebs, STAT!

What, this is NOT something you can imagine yourself saying while treating a minor burn? Well then, read on. There are a lot of weird home-remedy recommendations for burns floating around – cobwebs, mustard and toothpaste to name a few – but there’s little evidence to show they actually work. Even worse, some folk remedies like butter may actually trap heat in and cause burns to reach deeper layers of tissue.

Fortunately, studies show the main ingredient in this salve works better than antibiotic creams, and research supports the use of a few other ingredients to relieve pain and speed recovery. It can be used on common kitchen burns, sunburns and more. [Note: Though the Mayo Clinic says most first and second degree burns can be treated at home, serious burns should be treated professionally. Please do not use any home remedies on serious burns.]

So what is this magic formula, you ask? Honey with optional lavender essential oil, and a special tonic used between applications to speed recovery. Here’s why:

Honey Works Better Than Antibiotic Creams For Burns

According to this PubMed review, “As a dressing on wounds, honey provides a moist healing environment, rapidly clears infection, deodorizes, and reduces inflammation, edema, and exudation. Also, it increases the rate of healing by stimulation of angiogenesis, granulation [tissue growth], and epithelialization, making skin grafting unnecessary and giving excellent cosmetic results.”

Additional studies confirm these findings and add that honey can reduce scarring, rapidly reduce pain and swelling, and stimulate positive immune responses within a wound.  (source 1, source 2,)

The best part? A 2006 study found that “small, nonserious burns healed faster when treated with gauze and a dash of honey, on average, than those treated with antibiotic creams and other dressings.” (source) A Cochrane Review of 19 trials with over 2,500 participants supports their analysis.

This is seriously awesome stuff, huh?


When blended with honey, lavender can help quickly reduce pain and fight infection. “Lavender contains Linalyl Acetate (24-45%) and Linalol (25-38%) which have local analgesic and anesthetic effects. It also contains Terpinen-4-ol (2-6%) which, like Linalol, is an antibacterial agent. These two contribute to Lavender’s anti-bacterial properties, which in the case of a burn is very important.” (source)

Apple Cider Vinegar

Though there is not a consensus on why this works, my experience and at least one study show that diluted apple cider vinegar can rapidly accelerate the healing process while reducing scar tissue. Some say it is because the apple cider vinegar restores the damaged skin’s pH, while other’s say it’s due to the high percentage of “pectin, succared, vitamins (B1, B2, B6) (A, E, C), salt, mineral[s such as] as (sodium, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, phosphor, cobber, silicon, chlor).

Whatever the reason, it works!

homemade burn remedy

Mama’s Homemade Soothing Burn Salve


  • 1/4 cup raw honey (manuka honey is particularly prized for its healing properties in some cultures)
  • 1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil, optional. Reduce to 1/8 teaspoon if this salve will be used on children. (Concerned about the “estrogenic” effects of lavender. You might be interested in this article)

If this is something you’d prefer to mix up as needed, here are the ratio’s for a smaller amount:

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon lavender essential oil, optional (use half this amount on children)

Homemade Burn Tonic

  • 1 part purified water
  • 1 part raw apple cider vinegar

Mommypotamus’ Method For Treating Minor Burns

  1. Immediately run cold water over the area to bring the temperature down and prevent heat from penetrating deeper into the tissue
  2. If available, drench a soft clean cloth in burn tonic and lay it gently over the burn area until pain begins to subside. Repeat if needed.
  3. Remove compress and allow area to air dry a little. Smear a little burn salve over the wound and then dress the area with clean gauze.

Shelf life: Honey will keep indefinitely. If lavender oil is added the shelf life will still be very long – perhaps years – provided it is stored in a dark place to prevent oxidation.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. Please talk to your trusted healthcare professional for advice regarding personal health conditions and situations. See my full disclaimer here.

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42 Responses to Mama’s Homemade Soothing Burn Salve

  1. Ann says:

    This looks great, I’m definitely going to try it! Something that worked wonders the last time I got burned was having a ziploc bag of Redmond clay already mixed up in the fridge and immediately plunging my burned thumb into it. I couldn’t believe how it relieved the pain and how quickly the burn healed (and it was a bad one, too); this could be something to use before the honey salve.

  2. ashley says:

    Do you think this would be appropriate for burns caused by radiation treatment? I have a dear friend who is suffering from burns on his neck from radiation treatment. Any other ideas? Thanks!!

    • carol says:

      Be sure to check on any oil or do NOT use! I used Emu oil for radiation burns due to breast cancer. Emu oil healed the burns but it also made the breast tissues denser. Next radiation burned me worse than ever in my life. For the healing I think the tea(tanic acid), is safer even if not as fast.

  3. Debby says:

    Manuka honey is fascinating stuff. We always keep this in the house, partly because my bee keeper hubby just loves all honey and partly because of how it can be used like medicine for so many things. I would just be careful with how/where you buy it. There are two different rating systems (UMF and MGO) and they measure different things. There are also companies that claim that their Manuka honey is a higher rating than it actually might be. So I just caution you do your research, like we do with all things, before purchasing!

    • M says:

      I am curious, which brand do you trust? I tried so many, but besides that some are very expensive, I can’t make up my mind…

  4. Beth says:

    I’m intrigued by your methods. I had heard a couple of times that egg whites, whipped slightly if possible, are also good for burns. Did you come across this in your research?

    Also, a very quick initial thing to do if you burn a finger tip in a minor way, say, in the kitchen or on a hot light bulb, is to immediately rub it vigorously on your scalp. The natural oils on your scalp calm the burn immediately. This is commonly known by anyone who works on a film set and deals with hot lights.

    I will definitely file your remedies for future reference, and hope that I don’t need them! :-)

    • Heather says:

      Hi Beth, yes I did come across the egg white remedy. Most medical institutions don’t recommend it because it can introduce bacterial to the wound, leading to possible infection.

  5. Priscilla says:

    I burnt my hand pretty badly while cooking when we lived in the Philippines. A Philipina friend who was with me at the time had me put my hand in a bowl of plain-old white vinegar. The pain instantly went away! I was so surprised as I had never hear of that before! Apparently it is a common remedy there.

  6. Sally Boydstun says:

    I prefer to grab some fresh aloe and slather it on. It stops the pain immediately and, a lot of the time, doesn’t even leave a burn.

  7. Janice says:

    Vinegar is a old-fashion remedy with many uses. When we were children if we played outside too long my mother or grandmother always used vinegar on us…just plain white vinegar. Took the pain out of the sunburn right away and prevented blistering.

  8. J says:

    Colloidial Silver – no contest. Healed a 2nd degree burn on the entire back side of a hand while disinfecting and NO SCAR!

  9. Terry says:

    I’m confused about the aluminum being in the ACV. I thought aluminum was something to be avoided completely.

  10. louise says:

    I like to us naturel things

  11. […] Countless studies have affirmed honey’s antibacterial/antiviral properties, and it is well known for its benefits regarding wound healing. In fact, according to a Cochrane analysis of 19 clinical trials, this pantry staple works BETTER than antibiotic creams for burns. Here’s how I use it in my first aid kit. […]

  12. Angie Stoy via FB says:

    Thanks for posting this now, my Mom just contacted me yesterday about giving her a burn cream/jell I advised aloe and lavender but never thought of honey :)

  13. Alison Westermann via FB says:

    Funny tidbit: my daughter had a third degree burn on her foot awhile back, everything I read online said it can’t be treated at home, go to the Er, etc. so we took her there. They did NOTHING for her. Cleaned it with sterile water and put gauze on it. They told me to follow up with plastic surgery to make sure it’s not getting infected….wow. What a money pit!! I’m pretty sure I can assess infection (former rn) it cost us $1000. Next time we’ll be using some honey :)

  14. Wow, Alison, I had no idea you were an RN! So sorry about your daughter’s foot, but thank you for sharing. <3

  15. Alison Westermann via FB says:

    what’s more, my last job before kids was doing vaccinations for the company, ha!

  16. Somer McPeek via FB says:

    I had a burn and I used coconut oil. Worked great and it’s barely noticeable now. Also trying the tallow lotion and that seems to help as well

  17. Alison Westermann – I am currently reading a book by an immunologist who did her postdoctoral work at Harvard. She says that becoming a mother caused her to rethink all her training – interesting read!

  18. Alison Westermann via FB says:

    What’s the name of it? That sounds interesting. I agree, my daughter changed my life completely….I also worked in pediatrics for a few years after nursing school and turned out to be the kind of parent I never in a million years expected to be, but I love it and wouldn’t change it for anything!

  19. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a parent at all and now I can barely stand to put baby #3 down , so, um . . . . :)

    It’s Vaccine Illusion, only available in digital format: (referral link)

    I’m thinking of reviewing it on Mommypotamus

  20. Nicole Abboud via FB says:

    doTerra essential oils have great alternatives too. http://Www.mydoterra,com/nicoleabboud

  21. Please do, I would love to share that.

  22. Deb says:

    I burned myself on some hot glue a while ago. I ran my finger under cold water, then soaked it in ACV (undiluted) for several minutes. I put honey and a bandage on it. It did still hurt a bit for the rest of the day, but the next day there wasn’t even a mark!

  23. […] now know that honey works better than antibiotic cream for burns, and homemade honey cough syrup allows children (and their parents!) to sleep better than […]

  24. […] now know that honey works better than antibiotic cream for burns, and homemade honey cough syrup allows children (and their parents!) to sleep better than […]

  25. Diane Brock Lindsey via FB says:

    We swear by apple cider vinegar for burns, but I a glad to hear about the honey and lavender. You are so helpful. Thanks

  26. Some honey on the burn, then a spoonful in the mouth!

  27. Effy says:

    I like the idea of mixing the honey and lavender.
    Could you steep lavender in honey for this, or is an EO the best option?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Effy,the lavender infused recipe I know of calls for heating the honey, which I prefer not to do. For that reason I use the EO, but you could do it either way.

  28. Tiffany Pontier via FB says:

    The chemical stuff makes burns worse.

  29. Ashley Washburn-Chenard via FB says:

    Hospitals are really getting in on the Manuka honey bandwagon. Makes me happy. Good for more than just burns too! My husband had a huge flesh would on his foot (deployment injury) and the first thing my RN mom said was to get him some honey, stat! lol

  30. Meg says:

    My mom always used vinegar. Had a first aid paramedic tell me vinegar draws out the heat

  31. we use mustard… but… its probably the vinegar in it that works, like said above. will definately try ACV and or honey next time its needed

  32. Mommaofone says:

    Also for burns something that is proven to works wonders! Any chef will tell u or anyone who is professional kitchen personal dealing with extreme heats and ways to burn themselfs all live by it….FRESH CUT VEGETABLES! I burned myself really good first with steaming hot water and then the metal base on a the older commercial coffee pot back to back one leading to the other it was a bad burn I was unable to drop the pot once I grasped it without sending boiling liquid all over others so I had to hold and endure for far too long but the moment I hit the privacy of the kitchen where I was able to vocally release effects of the pain out head cook (bless him) knew what I had done proceeded to stick my hand under cool running water go grab an ice bath and chop a tomato (I thought he was finishing a salad order and forgot he was holding the pieces) he dunked my hand in the ice bath for 3 mins dried the area and placed cut tomato pieces over the whole area so I could close my hand and the whole area be totally covered or place both hands palm to palm having the same results however he did improvise a bandage of sorts with our very thick paper towels putting some cool damp ones over the tomatoes then dry ones on top to just hold them inplace with paper tape as I still needed use of my other hand. But the tomato did draw out an amazing amount of heat! It was a burn guaranteed to be one huge blister! He said by cooling it as fast as possible to get the tomato on that quickly it would prevent any blistering (i could see the swelling the first sign of blister directly after) but truthfully I had burn myself horribly many times on all types of things I have used almost everything for burns, butter, lard, ice, vinegar, yogurt and concoctions by the smell I’m glad I never knew what was in them and basic first aid creams sprays slavs ect…some helped some didn’t this trully helped immediately! No blister the longer I kept the tomatoes on I even changed them the swelling webt down the redness was gone it worked wonderfully! ! He said it was fresh vegetables that did it I don’t know if that means any vegetables but the tomatoes worked for sure! I have heard cucumbers work also! For a better functioning treatment (obviously if burn is bad enough to wonder about medicalattention its better to not take a chance) but mustard on a burn works great and can be loosely wraped with breathable materials. Burns are supposed to be able to breath that’s how heat escapes, and is said that’s why butter, lard, ect are not good as they trap heat.
    Love the honey idea I will be trying this also! Just found this page and love it I plan to trytry many of these recipes and incorporate a lot of what I have read into my current recipes!
    Thanks so much

  33. Joan says:

    Looking for something for severe eczema on adult to buy

  34. Lizette says:

    Will store bought honey worked…
    My 2 1/2 yr old daughter got her leg burned by the 4 wheeler … The amazing part was that she did not let mommy or big brother know she had the burn…hours must of gone by till I found out she had a burn because the wound blistered up to a quarter size… The only thing I had in hand was aloe Vera…what’s the next best thing to do, and how do I avoid the wound getting a scar or the skin getting discolored? Thank you…..

  35. Mary says:

    When my son worked at a fast food restaurant he said they would grab pickles and put them on a burn. I realized it was the vinegar brine that the pickles soak in that was providing relief.

  36. K says:

    Could I assume that these same things would be good for healing more than burns (i.e. open scratches)?
    [Potential TMI…] my baby girl scratched me pretty badly while nursing, and I’m looking for the best alternative to a neosporen-type ointment, since it looks like it could become a minor scar as is (I’ve never had an injury on this part of me before!).
    Additionally, what would be a natural healing ointment option that would also be safe for skin she will nurse on? (I’m not sure if EOs are safe on skin that would go in baby’s mouth, and I assume honey won’t be til afte she’s one.)
    Thank much for any help!

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