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.


This post was first published on June 21. Since then:

July 27

Bonnie left me a voicemail on July 24, nearly eight weeks after last hearing from her and 6 weeks after contacting her multiple times about the order.

She shared that her health is still shaky and that she decided to step down from the company, selling 90 percent of it. The partners are not pleased with this post, and offered to send me free product to help negate my experience, no strings attached but hoping that I pull this post down.

I don’t plan to do that, but I’m happy to update this post again if/when the partners have demonstrably improved operations and restored trust in the brand.

July 30

To my home iPad, which I use about twice a month, Bonnie sent me four messages on July 23 via iMessage, which I never use. The screenshot is below. We must differ in our definition of slander.”  Also, I’m uncertain why she says, “We heard you tried to reproduce the Healing Salve.” After all, I stated this specifically in this post from January 19, 2018 (which now redirects), saying, “I had tried to reverse engineer the product, but wasn’t happy with the results and wasn’t certain that I wanted to convert my kitchen into a balm-making facility.”

August 7, 2018

In a comment on this blog post, Bonnie stated her intention to sue me for slander.

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.

66 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 🙂

    • Margaret Tiller July 23, 2018 at 7:00 am #

      Please Take your slander down about Bonnies Balms. She is sick, has been sick with dvt’s & pulomonary embolisims & is not doing well..

      We do know you tried to make the Healing Salve yourself.

      She sold 90% of her company to a group that want to see the brand prosper.

      • Derrick July 25, 2018 at 6:46 pm #

        Slander? Where? The article presents a fact-based account of dealings with Bonnie’s Balms. The comments below might not be fact-based, but they aren’t presented as such. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and should be free to voice it.

        As far as illness being an excuse for taking people’s money and not delivering product, that is beyond ridiculous. If someone else has controlling share (90%) of the business, why aren’t they running things in her absence? None of it makes sense.

      • Andrew Skurka July 27, 2018 at 9:01 am #

        Your definition of “slander” must be very different than mine. I have no intention of removing this post.

    • Bonnie August 7, 2018 at 9:08 am #

      I’m filing a law suit against you today Andrew Skurka for Slander 😀

      • Jessica August 14, 2018 at 10:00 am #

        I don’t think that someone who has taken people’s money and not delivered product or refunds should be threatening a lawsuit. This is not slander by any means, in fact, everyone here is upset because they liked your product, your the one who has failed to deliver.

      • Grunde August 19, 2018 at 3:12 am #

        By doing this you inflict more damag to your brand.

        I’m not doing business with any company or brand who sue or threaten to sue individuals, bloggers, forum operators, etc. who give bad reviews or tell about bad experience.

        • Randy Cain August 19, 2018 at 9:23 am #


          Exactly what I was thinking. Bonnie also put a smiling emoji at the end of her statement, which seems pretty odd. Even if a company has a good product (which they do), when I see “leadership” like that, I’m content to take my business elsewhere based on principle alone.

          • Derrick August 21, 2018 at 7:04 am #

            Some people just aren’t cut out for business, plain and simple. I’m not saying they’re bad people, but they fail to understand how to do simple things like respond properly to a grievance.

      • Tresa August 23, 2018 at 2:28 pm #

        Why don’t you Bonnies Balms deliver what you take (now it seems steal) money for. I ordered Golfers Swing and the Salve $42. You had no problem taking my money April 9th and sending an email saying my order had shipped, which I still have not received and today is August 23. But you had no problem announcing on April 9th it was your Birthday and you were having a great time. You said your business was back up and running, Ha. All it seems like you’re doings is stealing money from people, and here I thought I was the only one being ripped off. I have emailed you probably a couple dozen times (not kidding) and left messages about 6 times, same reply, “I’ll get back to you ASAP.” I hope this gets around to enough people so you can be stopped. I’m not stupid enough to think one person is running the company. Someone connected to your company could reply back. Buyer Beware!

        • Jessica September 4, 2018 at 9:29 am #

          I placed my order in June and still haven’t gotten my money back. I found Bonnie on Facebook and she promised me she would refund and has refused. She blamed the poor service and skipped order on her ‘sister company’. What frustrates me even more is that I have little income and the balm was a last effort for my toddlers terrible eczema. I have decided to just start turning in complaints to the BBB and may even contact local news. Bonnie is stealing people’s money. Sick or not, what she is doing is terrible.

  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

    • Randy Cain July 30, 2018 at 5:07 pm #

      +1 John!

      I used Bonnie’s Balm for cracked hands almost daily for the past 2-3 years at least, and after trying O’Keeffe’s Working Hands for a week, I’m absolutely convinced that it works better for me than Bonnie’s. Leave’s less smudges on screens too. I’ve used a gazillion different things for cracked hands in my life, and nothing works like O’Keeffe’s.

  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.

      • Robin Collard July 31, 2018 at 3:07 pm #

        I does indeed! I have been using it for a while and I’m really happy with it. It is a bit expensive so I stated to make my own and it’s a super easy process!

  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!

    • Fabio Spelta October 24, 2018 at 9:17 am #

      Thanks mate.

  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.

  32. Judy Bailey July 16, 2018 at 8:41 pm #

    I have found all comments so interesting, but no one has mentioned my problem and why I desperately miss Pain Eraser from Bonnies Balm. I used it for hip and knee pain and it helped so much!! I rubbed it in every night before going to bed and it helped me for the entire next day and especially for my daily walk. I am a much older woman so really was thankful for discovering it through a friend and having it enable me to keep walking and also avoid taking any pain medication. Does anyone have any suggestion of another topical oil that is as good as Pain Eraser?? I have tried Arnica as that was suggested to me, but it made no difference in my pain whatsoever. Please give me suggestions; I would appreciate that so very much!!! Thank you!!

  33. David M Bugg July 23, 2018 at 7:01 pm #


  34. Andrew Skurka July 27, 2018 at 4:19 pm #

    A quick update on this.

    Bonnie left me a voicemail on July 24, nearly eight weeks after last hearing from her and 6 weeks after contacting her multiple times about the order.

    She shared that her health is still shaky and that she decided to step down from the company, selling 90 percent of it. The partners are not pleased with this post, and offered to send me free product to help negate my experience, no strings attached but hoping that I pull this post down.

    I don’t plan to do that, but I’m happy to update this post again if/when the partners have demonstrably improved operations and restored trust in the brand.

  35. Kristin July 31, 2018 at 5:53 am #

    I second Mom’s Stuff Salve. Made in Utah, originally made for Grand Canyon river guides, whose feet and hands are generally a cracked mess, and people have found many more uses for it since: rashes, chafing, wound care (it’s antiseptic), etc. Here’s my friend’s thru hiker review of it: And here’s their list of ingredients and what they do:

  36. Anton August 3, 2018 at 9:56 am #

    Hey Andrew. Thank you for the post and suggested alternatives. All of these salves have a pretty strong smell and potentially can attract animals if used at night while sleeping. I’m wondering how do you deal with it?

    • Andrew Skurka August 3, 2018 at 6:05 pm #

      I don’t worry about it at all. A bear isn’t going to enter camp because you have some foot balm. It’s going to enter camp because you’re staying in a high-use spot where there are always hikers with food, not one of which knows how to effectively hang their food in a tree and some of whom will run away from their open canister when they approach.

  37. Randy Cain August 7, 2018 at 10:39 pm #

    I ordered a bunch of the lip balms and a couple jars of Bonnie’s Balm sometime last year, and just as you described, I failed to receive it. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I waited…and waited. I never did receive any communication from her during this time. I’d guess it was at least a couple months later that I sent a message inquiring about the order and did eventually receive what I paid for.

  38. Jamie August 8, 2018 at 10:52 pm #

    On good ol’ Reddit, I found out that Monistat has a chafing cream (complete care chafing relief powder gel). Yes, I realize Monistat is typically associated with women, however the reviews on Amazon are pretty good and I saw that men have tried it and liked it. I’m not sure how it’ll stand up to a full day ok backpacking but maybe it’s worth a try. It looks pretty inexpensive and comes in a small tube perfect for those packing as light as possible (but not stupid light!).

  39. Alex August 12, 2018 at 6:58 pm #

    thank you for this post. i ordered from the website and never received product or communication even weeks overdue. your post clued me in to the situation and i attempted to contact the company, which still has not responded after 8 weeks. i was able to successfully reverse my charges over a month ago because the new owners did not respond to my credit card company either.

  40. Katherine K. August 20, 2018 at 12:08 pm #

    If you’re not too put off by Icelandic prices, I was slathering my chapped cuticles with this every time I passed a tester jar in duty-free at Keflavik. I loved their products so much I ordered some once I got back. The international shipping wasn’t too outrageous.

    (at least get some of their wildcraft herb stuff for Amanda!)

  41. James M August 27, 2018 at 8:58 pm #

    Apparently they’re selling Bonnie’s Balm on Amazon.

  42. Arch K. Lamb August 30, 2018 at 11:40 am #

    I have used both Corona and Bag Balm for chapped skin, they seem to work. Not very “essential” and are more agricultural but you can find them on Amazon rated 4.5 stars+ and at about half the price.

  43. Esther Colwell September 11, 2018 at 1:54 pm #

    Just wanted to confirm that I had the same issue with Bonnie’s (albeit on a smaller scale) – ordered on 11/24/17, never received the product, called and emailed three times with no responses from the company. Not until I let them know that Chase-VISA had opened a fraud case against them and that I was also filing a claim with the BBB and did they finally send the balms at the end of January (it took over 3 months).

  44. Brian October 2, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

    Thanks for the post on this Andrew. I came to your site to order more and reading this post you were having these issues right after the time that I had the issues ordering from them when I talked with you over email last year and ended up ordering some from you. Anyways the BB was good but seems like some bad business practices. I am going to give the Mom’s stuff All Purpose Piñon Salve a try as I like the ingredients. I’ll let you know if its a comparable product. On another note aside from hiking the BB (or something similar I would imagine) has been a great thing to add for multi day kayaking in neoprene shoes as well.

  45. Franz Gastler October 20, 2018 at 8:06 am #

    Andrew, here’s a letter from a DC law firm on behalf of another blogger (Modern Hiker) who was being threatened in the same way over his posts about a graffiti artist tagging monuments in Joshua Tree.
    Gives some good background on the legal definition of “defamation” and why it doesn’t at all apply to something like this.

Leave a Reply