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What is Black Ointment?

Nick Doniger
Nick Doniger

Black ointment is a type of drawing salve that contains various herbs, oils, and other natural products. It is used to treat many types of skin irritations, such as burns and boils. The ingredients in this ointment, when used together, are believed to reduce the risk of infection and promote cell growth. This product is only recommended for topical use, as one of its main ingredients, the materials from a plant called comfrey, may be detrimental to health if consumed or used in suppository form.

The most common ailments that may be soothed with black ointment are boils, warts, bee stings, acne, athlete's foot, hemorrhoids, and different types of burns such as sunburn. Some sources suggest that the product may also aid in fighting ulcers, tumors, and skin cancer. There is no standardized recommended dosage for this ointment, as most brands suggest using it as frequently and liberally as needed to soothe skin irritations. The product has not been evaluated by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Fingertip with a dab of drawing salve.
Fingertip with a dab of drawing salve.

Black ointment is often referred to as a drawing salve, also known as a drawing ointment. Drawing salves are generally used for topical detoxification. They pull toxins, debris, and other impurities from wounds, burns, and other ailments of the skin.

Though the ingredients may vary from brand to brand, all types of black ointment contain a mixture of herbs, oils, comfrey, and beeswax. Other ingredients may include red clover blossoms, olive oil, and pine tar. Mullein, a plant sometimes used for herbal tea, is often used in this type of ointment as well.

Athlete's foot can be treated with black ointment.
Athlete's foot can be treated with black ointment.

It is believed that the ingredients in this ointment promote faster healing and stimulate cell growth when used in conjunction with each other. They are promoted for various antibacterial qualities, and may help reduce the risk of infection when applied to an affected area of the skin. Some other benefits include toning and strengthening of skin tissues.

Black ointment can be used to treat burns and boils.
Black ointment can be used to treat burns and boils.

One of the main proponents of black ointment is a plant called comfrey. This plant, which is native to Europe and Asia, has been used as a healing herb since around 400 BC. Since comfrey contains certain alkaloids which may be either fatal or hazardous to health if ingested orally, black ointment is strictly meant for topical use. Additionally, this product, and other products containing comfrey, are not recommended to be used on cuts, unlike some types of drawing salves which do not contain comfrey.

Discussion Comments


I got staph after being in a car wreck. It got so bad they thought I would loose my arm. I had it over a year and had taken all kinds of antibiotics. My mom went to the store and got black salve, water proof band-aids, and neosporin. The spot on my arm still has a scar but I have my arm. I went home and spread the black salve over the spot. I did this 12 hours later after washing off the first salve. I woke up at three in morning with a good deep hole in my arm but all the swelling had gone down. I cleaned it out and filled it with neosporin, did that for about a weak and healed. I have not had another outbreak of staph sense. It looks like a leaf and people ask about it. My doctor told me I do not know what you did but I did not think your arm was going to make it. He had made plans to cut my arm off. I am glad I had it at the time.

I would not apply this on my face what so ever because I know what it does. If you use it, always use the healing neosporin after and get a scar treatment. I tried a gel. It has been 10 years sense this happened. I would not trade my scar. It has gotten smaller.


I don't believe comfrey is in the true black salve that can kill skin cancer cells and remove it. I have used it on external lumps on my pets and it is awesome. The main ingredients are mexican herbs. I have not heard of it being used for boils but can see it might react to the infection. I certainly wouldn't waste it on sunburn. It only activates on bad cells, as I have tested it on moles etc., and nothing happens. I used it on a scaly itchy mole and it took it out over a period of three weeks.


@organgey03: With respect, I will address your concern with a bit of research completed by a highly competent herbalist by the name of Kate Freer. You can find her work online.

As for me, I'm a Snopes kind of guy. I question the value of information presented to me by doing my own due diligence. This information has been out there to find for yourself for many years now. Never stop questioning. Never stop seeking answers. Enjoy the day.


On an organic farm I worked on, we gave comfrey to the chickens to strengthen the shells.


I have read that some people actually eat comfrey. It is widely known to be dangerous, and I looked into just exactly what it can do to the body.

The comfrey plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Four of these kind of alkaloids are carcinogens. These alkaloids have a cumulative effect inside the body. They can cause liver toxicity and hepatic vein blockage when ingested. These alkaloids are converted to toxic metabolites by liver enzymes, so comfrey would have to be ingested to be truly dangerous. Ointments containing comfrey should be safe to use.

I just can’t believe that a person would take the risk and eat comfrey!


@lighth0se33 - Black ointment is soothing when used on a sunburn. I don't suppose there was anything for it to "draw out" of the burn, but since it promotes the growth of new cells, it probably helped my sunburn heal faster.

I had used sunscreen on the day I got the sunburn, but my arms stuck to the float I was on, and when I pulled my arms away, the sunscreen must’ve stayed behind on the float. I was horribly burned.

The black ointment seemed to have the same effect as aloe. The plaintain herb present in the ointment has a cooling effect. It lowered my irritation level a good bit.


Has anyone ever used black ointment on sunburn? I like how aloe cools the burn, but I am looking for other products that might help me heal faster.

I got a bad sunburn when I fell asleep floating on the pool. I am going on vacation in two weeks, and I need to be all healed up by then so I can get out on the beach.

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    • Fingertip with a dab of drawing salve.
      Fingertip with a dab of drawing salve.
    • Athlete's foot can be treated with black ointment.
      By: roblan
      Athlete's foot can be treated with black ointment.
    • Black ointment can be used to treat burns and boils.
      By: FirstBlood
      Black ointment can be used to treat burns and boils.
    • Mullein is often an ingredient in black ointment.
      By: Spiff
      Mullein is often an ingredient in black ointment.
    • Warts are a common ailment treated with black ointment.
      By: Tiler84
      Warts are a common ailment treated with black ointment.
    • Black ointment often contains red clover blossoms.
      By: Tomboy2290
      Black ointment often contains red clover blossoms.