The incredible health benefits and seemingly endless uses for cannabis are still being discovered, but one of the most prominent new trends is the emergence of cannabis-infused topicals.
Infused lotions, salves, or balms are a great item to keep on hand as they have been shown to provide immense relief from chronic or acute localized pain. Because topicals are applied directly to the skin, they won’t get you high, which means they’re a great pain reliever to use at work or during the day when you can’t responsibly consume cannabis to relieve painful symptoms. Making your own cannabis-infused topical lotions and salves is not as difficult as you might think. If you’ve ever made cannabis-infused butter or oil, the recipe is remarkably similar and can be used in a variety of ways.RelatedWhat are cannabis topicals and how do they work?
How to make a basic cannabis salve
- 7-10 grams of ground, dried cannabis
- 1 ½ cups of coconut oil
- 1/3 cup olive oil (optional)
- 1/3 cup beeswax
- 1 baking sheet
- 1 saucepan (or double boiler)
- 1 jar
- 1 cheesecloth
- A few drops of essential oil (your choice)
Preheat your oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit and spread your dried ground cannabis on a baking sheet. When the oven is preheated, decarboxylate your cannabis in the oven for 25-30 minutes. While your cannabis is in the oven, place your coconut and olive oil in the saucepan or double boiler over low heat and stir continuously. Remove your decarboxylated cannabis from the oven and mix it into the coconut oil. Maintain a low heat and continue stirring the cannabis and oil mixture for 20 to 25 minutes.
Note: Keep the heat very low, especially when using a saucepan and not a double boiler–if the heat gets too high, you’ll scorch the cannabis and burn off the THC, decreasing the oil’s potency. This is especially pertinent if you’re using olive oil in your recipe, as olive oil has a lower smoke point than other oils.
After 25 minutes, remove from heat and pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into the jar. In the same saucepan or double boiler, add the beeswax and heat until it is melted. As the beeswax melts, slowly add the infused coconut oil. You can also add essential oils to your mixture–we recommend lavender, peppermint, or tea tree oils. Just a few drops will do.Once the beeswax and coconut oils are thoroughly mixed, remove from heat and transfer into containers for your infused salve.
How to make a cannabis-infused lotion or cream
In order to make your salve into an infused lotion or cream, add:
- 1 cup aloe vera gel
- 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
- 2 tablespoons shea butter or cocoa butter
To increase the fluidity of your cream, increase the amount of olive oil (or any other kind of oil–we recommend vitamin E oil or almond oil) in your mixture.
Keep in mind that your lotion will still be fairly thick, so we don’t recommend trying to put it in a lotion pump.If you’re not sure what containers to use, many containers used for cannabis flower can also be used for topicals and lotions. Our personal favorite is the classic 4 oz. glass canning jar, easily bought in bulk and useful for a number of purposes And there you have it! Your cannabis salve won’t last forever, but storing it in a cool, dark place will help preserve its longevity. Just rub salve on the affected area, and sit back and relax while the activated THC works magic on your aches and pains.
Other creative ideas
- Tinted lip balm: Adding frozen raspberries to your coconut oil and beeswax mixture is a quick and easy way to make your own naturally-tinted lip balm.
- Flavored lip balm: A teaspoon of honey will add sweetness to your balm, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try a teaspoon of cocoa powder for chocolate-flavored lips.
- Arthritis relief: If you suffer from arthritis or other aches and pains, consider adding a teaspoon of cayenne pepper for effective pain relief. Be careful, however, and keep any cayenne-infused lotions (or lotion-covered hands) away from your eyes.
- Headache relief balm:If you suffer from migraines, making a headache relief balm is fairly simple. Just add 15 to 20 drops each of peppermint, lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus oil to your coconut and beeswax mixture. Apply sparingly to your temple and the nape of your neck for best results.
- Calming sleep balm: Add dried rose petals and chamomile oil or tea leaves for a calm, relaxing balm. Apply to the soles of your feet before bedtime for a soothing sleepytime aid.
Pain Relieving Cannabis Salve
Luckily for all of you and for the internet at large, I have a ridiculous backlog of stuff that I haven’t posted yet. When I say the word ridiculous, I mean that in the had-to-upgrade-my-external-hard-drive kind of ridiculous.
I was going through my old photos while the babe was asleep and I realized that I could probably do a post every day for the next year and not run out of recipes.
Will I do that? Maybe. It sounds like a great beginning to a romantic comedy.
Are there people who read this blog who are not down with me and my blog stunting? Hell no. Even if there were, I’d just delete their comments. You’re in my world naow.
All nonsense aside, this salve is incredible for muscle pain relief and dry itchy skin. You just massage it in and wait about 20-40 minutes for the magic to happen. If you want the magic to happen more quickly and deeply, massage it in, wait about 10 minutes and soak in a hot bath for about 20 minutes.
Simple Cannabis Salve
I’m not a huge fan of solid salves that are more wax than anything else. Most of the cannabis salve recipes out there make a firm end result. And that’s totally fine, but it’s not what I like to use. I wanted to make a cannabis salve that is non-greasy, easy to use at any temperature, is great for the skin and has a good absorption rate. This salve ended up being the perfect ratio for those qualities. I guess technically it falls somewhere in between a salve and and ointment, but I’m just not into that second word, so we’re going with salve.
It’s balanced with more cannabis coconut oil than beeswax and a smidge of olive oil so it has a smoother texture and it absorbs easily. The beeswax makes the salve non-greasy and has skin protectant, healing and slightly anti-inflammatory properties. If you’d like to switch up the ratios to make a custom cannabis salve, I found this article about beeswax proportions to be very helpful.
Tips & FAQ
- I get my salve making supplies (and most of my herbs) from Amazon if I can’t find them locally. Beeswax Pastilles are easier to work with than the gigantic and expensive blocks of beeswax I’ve found nearby.
- Beeswax is pretty delightful in general, but is not technically vegan. If you’d like to make a vegan cannabis salve, just substitute cocoa butter or shea butter for the beeswax.
- This is a great way to use a batch of weed oil that doesn’t turn out quite right.
- Store this cannabis salve in a dark cool place. It stores forever, but if it melts and solidifies, the texture changes a lot.
- If you’d like to calculate the thc in this recipe, check out the Calculating Your THC Dosage post. I’m working on a thc dosage calculator, but until then, you can learn how to get a general idea of the THC in your cannabis salve and other edibles.