Bad business: Avoid Bonnie’s Balm

For a very long time I have argued that wearing so-called waterproof footwear is an ineffective solution when backpacking in wet conditions. Much better results can be had by minimizing the effects and aftermath of wet feet, instead.

Among my recommended strategies, I have advocated for the application of an oil- and wax-based balm to reduce maceration and to moisturize skin. For the past six years I specifically promoted Bonnie’s Balm Healing Salve, which worked well for feet and for other applications like chafing and dry, cracked hands. To improve distribution I sold it through my online store, and was happy to support another Colorado small business.

Sadly, due to recent events I no longer recommend Bonnie’s Balm, and I will no longer sell its products.


If you are seeking a Healing Salve-like product, my recommendation is to look elsewhere. Consider:

Both of these products share similar ingredients and consistency with Healing Salve. If you have found other good options for treating wet feet, please leave a comment.


Bonnie’s Balm produces good product. Unfortunately, the business is not reliable or trustworthy.

The company first went quiet in June 2017. My orders were not filled, and my emails and phone calls were not responded to. Bonnie’s voicemail was full. The website went down, because the domain name was not renewed and a squatter jumped on it. I thought it was weird that Bonnie’s would go out of business without informing its bigger accounts (I ordered about $2k of product each year), but it happens.

Surprisingly, Bonnie contacted me in April, explaining that she had health serious health issues after two black widow spider bites and informing me that she was up and running again. I decided to give her a second chance, and began to carry her product again.

Recently, Bonnie’s Balm has gone quiet again, however. My last communication with Bonnie was on May 30, when she informed me that an order (paid for with my business credit card) would “ship out tomorrow.” The product has not arrived. My emails to her on June 11 and June 14 have not been responded to, nor has the phone call I placed on June 19. Yesterday I called Chase to officially dispute the charge.

For her sake, I hope that Bonnie is not having recurring health issues. But that does not excuse the lack of communication from her (or about her, via an employee, family member, or friend). So I have decided that Bonnie’s Balm is not a company with which I care to do business, and recommend that you take your business elsewhere as well.

Do you know of a good substitute for Bonnie’s Balm Healing Salve? Leave a comment.

Disclosure. This website is supported mostly through affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors, at no cost to the reader. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

38 Responses to Bad business: Avoid Bonnie’s Balm

  1. Nick B. June 21, 2018 at 2:57 pm #

    I’m a rather big fan of Squirrels Nut Butter products ( Primarily, I’m a huge fan of their anti-chafe salve, but their foot balm is also a product that has kept my feet happy… Only issue I have is remembering to use it 🙂

  2. Derrick June 21, 2018 at 2:59 pm #

    I second the Joshua Tree Climbing Salve recommendation. I have been using it on my hands for close to a year and have had good results. It may seem a bit expensive, but the jars last a long time if used correctly.

    • haiku June 30, 2018 at 1:28 pm #

      Joshua Tree! When I looked at the list of oils in JT vs Bonnie’s it was definitely superior. It works great- lips, chafing, bug bites, healing cuts, and of course dealing with nasty feet.

  3. Jordan June 21, 2018 at 3:00 pm #

    I’ve been using Rocket Pure hand and foot balm and really like it. It seems to work well and smells wonderful (though, it does melt in the heat). It’s worth noting, however, that I don’t have experience with any similar product with which to compare this.

  4. Joshua June 21, 2018 at 3:20 pm #

    I like a small company that makes Creosote Salve. Works well on my hands and feet and smells like a rainstorm in the desert. Thanks for this explanation Andrew, I really enjoyed that product and purchased it multiple times from your website.

    • Jay June 22, 2018 at 6:59 am #

      Can you give the name of the company please? I would like to order some.

  5. Sean June 21, 2018 at 3:42 pm #

    I’ve had good luck with GurneyGoo.

    • John Baltzell June 23, 2018 at 5:11 am #

      +1 for Gurney Goo have been using for years with great success.

  6. Steven June 21, 2018 at 3:43 pm #

    Trail Toes! Been using it for the past 4 years on backpacking trips as part of my nightly footcare. I’ve been very happy with its performance.

  7. Bill June 21, 2018 at 3:44 pm #

    This also works well and comes in a deodorant stick style applicator.

  8. David M. June 21, 2018 at 4:20 pm #

    Na. She’s just a crazy flake. She has no problem posting on FB and Twitter (recently) about how grand life is and doling out sagely advice, but never mentioned a single word about getting Black Widow bites in all of 2017-2018.
    My guess is, she burned through all the large order money and can’t fill them. Probably praying to some invisible tree elf that she doesn’t get sued.

  9. Rick June 21, 2018 at 5:06 pm #

    I had a similar experience – ordered some product from her last month – never got it. Email and phone calls not returned. Filled out a charge dispute with the credit card I used. Sad. Hope she is ok, but not cool to leave the website up taking orders and your money when you’re not going to fill them.

  10. Russell J. June 21, 2018 at 5:30 pm #

    +1 on Joshua’s creosotebush salve. Works well and reminds me of being in the desert when I use it at home.

    Mine comes from the creatively-named Creosotebush Salve Co. in Alpine, TX. I’ve only bought mine at retailers in Big Bend, but a quick Google search shows they have a presence on Etsy.

    • Ron S July 7, 2018 at 10:20 am #

      I went to the Etsy store for the Creosotebush Salve Co.bought a tin of it. I had blisters from mowing in new boots and tried it out on them. I don’t know how this works but it didn’t just make them feel better, I believe it healed them. Remarkable stuff

  11. John June 21, 2018 at 6:17 pm #

    I like O’Keefe’s Working Hands

  12. G.Topf June 21, 2018 at 6:35 pm #

    O Hydropel, Hydropel! Wherefore art thou Hydropel? Deny the water and refuse the blister. Or, if thou wilt not, be but found on eBay ’cause my stash from 2009 is almost out.

    • Kief June 24, 2018 at 12:11 pm #

      G. Topf—When Hyropel became unobtainable I started using Wellskin Barriere, a multi-purpose 20% silicone skin cream made in Canada. It works just as well for me. Available on Amazon, though a little pricey.

      • G.Topf June 25, 2018 at 10:49 am #

        Will give that a test drive on a day hike. Thanks Kief!

  13. Alonzo Terrrell June 21, 2018 at 7:22 pm #

    I’ve usually used Bag Balm since it’s easy to get. My WFR instructor also recommended it since it had antiseptic qualities.

  14. Liz June 21, 2018 at 9:13 pm #

    I also love Trail Toes, but have used it for blister prevention rather than maceration prevention.

  15. Unnamedpeaks June 21, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Andrew I’d love your updated recommendation. Neither of the ones you suggested are beezwax base, which seems better than an oily/greasy option.

  16. Qndenile June 22, 2018 at 6:15 am #

    Bag balm…available at most farm stores and on Amazon.

  17. Trevor Morgan June 22, 2018 at 6:38 am #

    Gerlachs Gehwol Extra – brilliant. Saved my feet over 155-mile trek.

  18. PS June 22, 2018 at 8:07 am #

    What a bummer. I ordered some when you started reselling it again, and it was better than the balm I’d used before. I wish I’d ordered more than one container :(.

    Thanks to the other readers for their recs, though!

  19. Nils Petter Lennartsson June 22, 2018 at 8:53 am #

    Elisabeth Arden 8 hour cream is really Good.

  20. David W June 22, 2018 at 10:58 am #

    Looking like another Luke’s Ultralight situation. What a shame.

  21. jason June 22, 2018 at 12:44 pm #

    I liked Bonnie’s balm because it was good for healing chaffing as well. do any of these recommendations work well for chaffing as well as foot care?

  22. Dan W. June 22, 2018 at 11:18 pm #

    Green Goo is good, however, it is greasier (less viscous) than BB or JT salves. I don’t care for Bonnie as her other products are snake oil. Don’t even get me started on her multi-purpose oils. They are good for alleviating cracked or dry skin at best. Do NOT use her products if you seek pain relief. JT has their act together.

  23. Jason Corbett June 23, 2018 at 7:53 am #

    What do people here think about using Burt’s Bees Hand Salve as a substitute? It has worked wonders on my hands in winter for the past several years. The ingredient list is:

    Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, beeswax, lavandula hybrida (lavandin) oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower powder, helianthus annuus(sunflower) seed oil, tocopherol, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil, limonene, linalool.

    • Andrew Skurka June 23, 2018 at 8:01 am #

      It has similar base ingredients to BB Healing Salve (olive oil and beeswax), although consistency is largely a function of the ratios of these ingredients (more beeswax, less viscous). I’m not an essentials oil expert so I can’t speak to what the rest of the stuff does. My guess is that if it works well on your hands, it will work well on your feet too.

  24. Ron Sowers June 23, 2018 at 3:01 pm #

    I started looking around for my own solution and ran into this article. I thought you might find it interesting.

  25. Kango June 25, 2018 at 12:06 am #

    Check out Climb On.

  26. Henry June 26, 2018 at 7:20 am #

    May be not availible in the States but for the european readers i have a recommondation:
    Xenofit SecondSkin

    Petrolatum, Lanolin, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Alba, Deer Fat, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Tocopherol

    Also great for biking and running!

  27. Matthew Burke June 30, 2018 at 7:46 pm #

    For the Australians reading I find Neat 3B Action Cream to be effective, cheap and readily available in pharmacies here

  28. Shari Thatcher July 4, 2018 at 6:39 pm #

    Mom’s Stuff Salve is incredible and all natural stuff. Made in Spring City, Utah.

  29. Fred Wahnschaffe July 6, 2018 at 5:56 pm #

    My go-to balm for foot and lip care and to prevent chafing is Waxelene. All natural: Organic Soy Oil, Beeswax, Natural Vitamin E Oil, Organic Rosemary Oil.

  30. Rob Zima July 8, 2018 at 2:59 pm #

    I think I am going to try Mushers Secret! It works on my dogs paws during the cold winter weather.

  31. Jessica July 9, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

    I’m happy to hear that I am not the only one who paid for an order that did not get filled. Thanks for posting this so that I too can get some from another company.

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