The cannabis plant is super versatile. You can smoke it, make food with it, extract and make concentrates with it . . . and you can also use it topically. If you’ve been to any stores that sell topicals with THC or CBD, you’ve also noticed the price tag. In other words, expensive. Cannabis balms, creams, lotions, and salves are all doing essentially the same thing: to provide relief to a specific area on the body. As the cold winter months make way, a homemade canna-salve could do just the trick for wintertime aches and pains, and it makes an excellent gift for friends and family.

WHAT are topicals, exactly?

Topicals are products that aren’t absorbed by the bloodstream, and are applied to specific areas of the body. On a similar note, transdermal products are used like a topical, but they are absorbed into the bloodstream. We’re going to focus on topicals today. Canna-salve is usually topical, which is excellent. The cannabinoids contained in the salve won’t reach the bloodstream — meaning you won’t get high — but those mighty cannabinoids will bind to receptors in the skin. The result? Soothing relief for sore muscles or achy joints.

Canna-salve is useful for arthritis, headaches, and daily twinges when muscles are tight, and joints are stiff. You can add a pinch of cayenne pepper to a customized salve that offers satisfying pain relief for those suffering from arthritis. Just use extreme caution that this salve doesn’t get in your eyes. If that happens, you’ll have a whole new source of discomfort. Ouch!

cannabis salve recipe

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For those that deal with headaches, notably migraines, customize your canna-salve with a soothing essential oil, like tea tree, peppermint, or eucalyptus oil. If insomnia is your crutch, add chamomile or lavender oil to your salve for a calming sleep-promoting salve. Whatever your affliction, rub some canna-salve onto the affected area(s), relax, and viola ~ sweet relief.

Canna-Salve Recipe

Now here’s the fun part: making the salve! Some general tips to follow before you start:

  • Ensure the cannabis is dried thoroughly and ground first, then decarboxylate.
  • Maintain a low and slow approach to decarbed cannabis and coconut oil; if the heat gets too high, the cannabis will scorch, and the THC potency is diminished.
  • Incorporate any essential oils into the mixture at the very end of the process.
  • Do not try to put salve into a container with a lotion pump. Use small, shallow jars or tins.
  • Store salve in a cool, dark place to increase shelf life.

You will need:

  • 7-10 grams of ground, dried cannabis
  • 1 ½ cups high-quality coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup beeswax
  • 1 large baking sheet
  • 1 saucepan or double boiler
  • Large glass canning jar (at least 16 oz for this batch size)
  • Salve containers
  • Cheesecloth
  • Essential oil(s) of choice

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spread dried, ground cannabis evenly on the large baking sheet.
  • Decarboxylate the cannabis in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  • Put the pre-measured coconut oil into the saucepan (or double boiler) over low heat. Stir constantly while it melts.
  • Take decarbed cannabis and mix it into the melted coconut oil for 25 minutes. Remember to keep that heat low!
  • Remove from heat and pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into the canning jar. Set aside.
  • Put the pre-measured beeswax into the saucepan (or double boiler) on low heat. As it melts, slowly pour in the infused coconut oil.
  • Remove from heat. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s). Stir thoroughly.
  • Transfer (carefully) the salve into the containers you’ve selected.

Canna-Lotion Recipe

The salve recipe (above) is an excellent base for canna-lotions too! To turn that salve into a lotion, just follow these easy steps. For this purpose, we’re going to assume you’ve already decarboxylated the 7-10 grams of dried, ground cannabis.

You will need:

  • 7-10 grams of ground, dried, decarboxylated cannabis
  • 1 ½ cups high-quality coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup beeswax
  • ⅓ cup olive or almond oil
  • 1 cup aloe vera gel
  • 1-2 teaspoons vitamin E oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons shea butter or cocoa butter
  • 1 saucepan or double boiler
  • Large glass canning jar (at least 16 oz for this batch size)
  • Containers (recommend 4 oz glass jars)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Essential oil(s) of choice

Directions

  • Put the pre-measured coconut and olive (or almond) oils into the saucepan (or double boiler) over low heat. Stir constantly while it melts.
  • Take decarbed cannabis and mix it into the melted oil for 25 minutes. Remember to keep that heat low!
  • Remove from heat and pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into the canning jar. Set aside.
  • Put the pre-measured beeswax into the saucepan (or double boiler) on low heat. As it melts, slowly pour in the infused oil.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in the aloe vera gel, the vitamin E oil, and the shea butter or cocoa butter. Mix until combined. If additional fluidity is desired, mix in extra olive or almond oil until the desired consistency is achieved.
  • Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s). Stir thoroughly.
  • Transfer (carefully) the lotion into the containers you’ve selected.

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