How to Make Homemade Cannabis Salve (CBD or THC)
To grow and make your own medicine… that is the stuff that dreams are made of, am I right?! We like to use our organic homegrown cannabis in a variety of ways, but making topical cannabis salve is on the top of the list. Cannabis salve can help to reduce inflammation, soothe skin irritation, joint pain, and more! It also happens to be quite simple to make your own cannabis salve, and easy to customize it to suit your needs.
Read along to learn how to make cannabis salve in 4 simple steps. With this recipe, you can use marijuana, hemp, high CBD, high THC, raw cannabis, decarbed cannabis, or any combination thereof! (Depending on what is legal and available in your area of course.) Let’s talk about benefits of each of those, how cannabis salve works, and what awesome healing potential it has.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products for your convenience, such as items on Amazon. Homestead and Chill gains a small commission from purchases made through those links, but at no additional cost to you.
What is Cannabis Salve
Maybe we need to step back a moment. How about, “what is a salve?”. A salve is simply the term for a healing solution that you put on your skin, including creams, ointments, or balms. Generally, salves are fairly thick, shelf-stable, and include nourishing oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, or others.
In our cannabis salve recipe, we prefer to use mostly coconut oil, because it is full of saturated fat that binds well with cannabinoids. It is also ultra-moisturizing. We also add a dash of olive oil to increase absorption and smoothness. To learn more about various carrier oils, check out our homemade calendula oil article – where I discuss the pros and cons of a dozen different oil options!
Salves also typically contain waxes or butters to bind the ingredients and make them semi-solid at room temperature. Beeswax is a popular option because it is readily available, easy to work with (especially when purchased in pastilles), and creates perfectly smooth results. See the ingredient list below for recommended vegan substitutions.
When cannabis is added to salve as an ingredient… voila! You’ve got yourself a cannabis salve. The most common way to add cannabis to a salve recipe is to create a cannabis-infused oil first, and then combine the oil with the other salve ingredients.
Therefore, that is exactly what we’re going to do in this recipe: make cannabis oil, and then the salve. But first: “what kind of cannabis should I use in my oil or salve?”
Using Decarboxylated or Raw Cannabis in Salve
How about a little bit of both?
If you aren’t familiar with the term, decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis at an ideal time and temperature to transform raw cannabinoid compounds from their “acid” form to more active and potent versions. For example, CBDA and THCA are changed into CBD and THC respectively. Decarboxylation naturally occurs when cannabis is smoked or vaporized, but it needs to be accomplished by other means when using cannabis in oil or salves – such as by heating it in the oven. (Read more about decarboxylation here)
The medicinal benefits of decarboxylated THC and CBD are well-documented. Both are anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, high in antioxidants, relieve pain, relax muscles, and suppress tumor growth. This is especially true when they’re used and work together, known as the “entourage effect“. THC is a particularly powerful analgesic (pain-reliever). CBD has even more expansive healing applications, and can help relieve seizures, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. That said, we definitely want to reap those benefits and use decarbed cannabis in this salve recipe!
On the other hand, emerging studies are revealing that raw THCA and CBDA have some pretty groovy perks too. THCA is showing a promising ability to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, arthritis, and cancer. CBDA also fights inflammation and tumor growth.
Cannabinoids are converted from their raw acid form to their arguably more potent “decarbed” form through heat, and the subsequent removal of a carboxyl group from their molecular compound. Image via VeriHeal
Beyond CBD and THC, there are dozens of other compounds found in cannabis that may produce individual, interactive, or synergistic benefits, including phytocannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. It should be noted that THC is psychoactive and CBD is not, though that doesn’t matter all that much when making a cannabis salve intended for topical use only.
Considering all of this, we like to use both decarbed and raw organic cannabis (containing both THC and CBD) to create a full-spectrum, well-rounded, ultra-healing finished product.
What Can Cannabis Salve Be Used For?
Cannabis salve is stellar at relieving many ailments! First of all, coconut oil and olive oil are extremely nourishing on their own – so you’re going to get plenty of moisture from your salve to heal dry, cracked, or otherwise irritated skin. If you add a few drops of essential oils to your salve, you’ll also get the benefit of aromatherapy.
The healing properties of your homemade cannabis salve may vary slightly depending on what type of cannabis you use. In general, cannabis salve can be used to treat or relieve the following :
- Rashes, itching, or other skin irritation
- General inflammation
- Sore joints
- Muscle aches
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Irregular cell growth (e.g. skin cancer cells)
Personally, I like to rub a little cannabis salve on my tight and sore neck muscles, shoulders, wrists, knees, elbows, ankles, bottom of my feet, and behind my ears. Hey, all this gardening (and sitting to blog) does a number on my body!
How Does It Work?
Did you know we all have an Endocannabinoid System? Yep. Just like we have an endocrine system, immune system, digestive system, and so on. Our bodies have natural receptors, literally made to interact with cannabinoid compounds. This includes both internal, naturally-synthesized cannabinoids and those from external sources – like those from marijuana or hemp. Neat, huh?
When cannabis salve or medicated topicals are applied to our skin, the THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids present in the solution penetrate the skin to bind and activate our localized endocannabinoid receptors. They won’t enter the bloodstream however, so topically-applied salve will not get you “high”.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CANNABIS SALVE
- 7-10 grams of decarboxylated cannabis (ground or torn to fairy small pieces). If your cannabis is not yet decarbed, see Step 1 in the instructions below.
- 1 ½ cups of coconut oil OR, 1 ½ cups of already-infused cannabis coconut oil (*see notes about using different types of oil below)
- Optional: 5 grams raw cannabis, dried and cured.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup beeswax pastilles (vegan option: replace with the same amount of organic soy wax, candelilla wax, or carnauba wax)
- Optional: Essential oils of choice. I like using this certified organic lavender oil. Tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, lemon, or eucalyptus are also great choices!
- Optional: 1 tablespoon of shea butter or 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil for additional antioxidants and moisture
- A double-boiler, or make-shift double boiler – such as a glass pyrex bowl or stainless steel bowl perched on top of a saucepan with water below (if your cannabis oil is not already made)
- Mixing bowl
- Glass jars or salve tins, for storage
- Recommended: probe thermometer
Makes: Approximately 2 cups (16 ounces) of finished salve
*Notes: If you want to scale this recipe up or down: the general rule of thumb for salve is to use about 1 part of beeswax to 4 or 5 parts oil, including both coconut and olive oil. Since we use virgin coconut oil that is solid at room temperature, we can get away with lesser beeswax and the salve will still set up well. If you use a different carrier oil that is liquid at room temperature, either omit the extra 1/3 cup olive oil mentioned above, or increase the amount of beeswax pastilles to 1/2 cup.
Step 1) Decarboxylate Your Cannabis
If you haven’t done so already, the first step is to decarboxylate the cannabis you intend to use in this salve recipe. Or at least some of it, if you want to also use some raw material.
Grind or tear up the cannabis into fairly small pieces. Spread it evenly on a baking sheet, and heat it in the oven on 250°F for 25-30 minutes for THC-dominant strains. CBD requires about double the time to fully convert from CBDA to CBD, so heat hemp flower at the same temperature for 50-60 minutes instead. Or, meet in the middle at 45 minutes for balanced THC/CBD strains.
Step 2) Create & Strain Cannabis-Infused Oil
If you tuned into our “How to Make Cannabis Oil” tutorial, you will recognize these steps. The process is virtually the same, except we are going to use slightly more coconut oil here. If you’re interested in making medicated edibles, check out that article!
When making cannabis oil, it is important to not overheat it. Because we are starting with already-decarboxylated cannabis, maintaining a lower temperature will preserve the already-active THC and CBD content as well as the terpenes. Avoid heating it over 200 degrees F. 120 to 180°F is even better.
That is where a double-boiler comes in handy! Even over the lowest flame, heating oil in a pot directly on the stove is much more difficult to prevent overheating, and can create “hot spots” – destroying our precious cannabinoids.
I suggest monitoring the oil temperature with a probe thermometer if possible. Because oils have a higher boiling point (or “smoke point”) than water, the oil will not appear to be as hot as it really is! For example, the oil may be well over 212 degrees but not visibly bubble and boil like water would at the same temperature.
Steps to Make Cannabis-Infused Oil:
- Add water to the bottom pan of your double-boiler. Now add 1.5 cups of coconut oil to the top section of the double-boiler. Heat until it melts.
Step 3) Mix the Salve Ingredients
Just like the last step, we want to avoid excessively heating the cannabis oil in order to preserve cannabinoids. If you happen to be using solidified cannabis-infused coconut oil that you previously made, I highly suggest mixing everything in a double-boiler once again (since you’ll need to heat it longer and hotter to re-melt your oil).
On the other hand, if you just made your cannabis oil and it is still liquified, you can do this step straight in a pot on the stove – keeping the heat as low as possible once the cannabis coconut oil is added.
In either a pot or double-boiler, add ⅓ cup of beeswax. Heat until it is completely melted. Now turn down the heat to low. Next, stir in 1.5 cups of strained cannabis coconut oil and ⅓ cup olive oil. Now is the time to add the optional vitamin E plus a few drops of optional essential oils as well. Stir until everything looks completely combined. Once it is, quickly remove the liquid salve from the heat and transfer it into your storage containers of choice.
Step 4) Cool & Store
When it is ready, I pour the liquid salve straight into these 2 ounce glass jars, or these 4 ounce glass jars. You can also use these shallow wide aluminum salve tins. The cannabis salve will harden as it cools, and then it is ready to use!
It is best to store your finished cannabis salve in a cool dark location because light degrades cannabinoids. The amber and cobalt jars we use block UV light, which protects the salve if I leave it out.
Note: Sometimes, the surface of the salve may crack just a little bit as it cools. See the photos below. I have found that salve in our 2-ounce glass containers don’t crack, but larger volumes may. This is really only an aesthetic “issue” if you care. Personally, I don’t mind. It disappears as soon as you begin to dig in and use it!
However, some folks may not like the appearance of the cracks – particularly if the cannabis salve is going to be sold or given as a gift. To avoid settling cracks, put the cannabis salve in a mixing bowl before transferring it into a storage container. Allow it to only partially cool and solidify, whip and mix it up, and then pack into your containers.
Need a chill pill, minus the pill? Check out favorite organic full-spectrum CBD oil – NuVita! Use our affiliate code “DEANNACAT” to save 10% any time. With less than 0.3% THC, it is non-psychoactive and legal in the US. The orange label is great for anxiety, stress, inflammation, and pain – anytime. The CBG (white) has some added power against inflammation, IBS, nausea, and cancer cell growth. CBN (black) will help you sleep more soundly while also easing tension, perfect for bedtime use.
Step 5) Feel Good
Lather up! Apply a thin, even layer to the affected area. You should start to feel the results within 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the severity of your issue and strength of your salve. Repeat several times per day as needed.
Will this make me smell like weed?
Just slightly! I find our salve to have a mild cannabis odor, but nothing overpowering. The coconut aroma also stands out. If you add essential oils to your recipe, that can also help to mask the smell. I often apply salve after showering (including before going to work) and don’t think there is much of a noticeable odor after a half an hour or so. No one has ever said anything to me at least!
How long does cannabis salve last?
When stored in ideal cool and dark conditions, homemade cannabis salve should last up to a year. The potency will only slightly decrease during this time. I try to use clean hands when I dig into my salve jars, to avoid introducing any contamination that could make it potentially mold or spoil faster. You could also use a salve spoon.
Ready to make your own medicine?
I hope you found this tutorial to be useful, interesting, and informative! I also hope that it helps you soothe your trouble spots, whatever those may be. Finally, please remember to heed caution depending on your local laws, and always be careful with your cannabis products around curious kiddos or pets.
If you enjoy this article, be sure to check out:
Please feel free to ask questions, or spread the love by sharing or pinning this post! Thank you for tuning in.
What is CBD Body Butter
If you are into CBD skincare products and all other things CBD and cannabis, it makes sense that CBD body butter would pique your interest! CBD body butter is a mashup of one of the most luxurious topicals for the skin and the health benefits of CBD—without any of the high of THC.
In this post, we’re covering what CBD body butter is and why it’s good for the skin. We’ll cover the difference between body lotion and body butter (and other topicals). We will talk about the uses for and benefits of body butter generally and why there’s an added benefit to CBD in body butter.
Finally, we’ll talk about how to make your own CBD body butter using CBD isolate! It’s easier than you think to make the best DIY body butter, and we have recommendations for both CBD isolate for your own homemade CBD body butter and for store-bought body butter if you’re not into DIYing it.
What is CBD Body Butter
Body butter is an extra-thick skin moisturizer, usually found in jars or tins that are flatter and wider so you can easily access the amount you want more easily. Typically body butter gets its thick consistency from organic vegetable-based oils and butters such as nourishing coconut oil or shea butter. These ingredients are important beyond their smooth, rich consistency, though; they are a must for any body butter due to their moisturizing and hydrating properties.
For people with very dry skin or problem areas, body butters are particularly effective at rejuvenating and nourishing dry skin in patches or all over. It clings well to the skin and forms more of a barrier than lighter lotions. Body butters are very useful during the winter months and for people who work or play outside a lot.
CBD body butter is infused with some form of CBD, whether it be CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD extract, or full-spectrum CBD extract. In most cases, to create a CBD body butter that is shelf-stable, CBD isolate is the best choice.
Some CBD body butters also use CBD hemp oil that is rich in hemp terpenes and helps the skin revitalize and maintain a youthful glow. CBD is itself an antioxidant, so these kinds of CBD body butters are potentially very nourishing to the skin.
How is Body Butter Good for the Skin
There are several ways to use body butter to optimize your skin’s health.
Leave some body butter on your skin, don’t rub it in completely, to create a soothing, protective barrier.
When applying your body butter, pay special attention to problem areas such as knees, elbows, ankles, feet, and hands. These are all regions that benefit from extra attention because they tend to be prone to dryness.
To apply body butter, place a generous scoop directly on your skin and massage the body butter into the skin gently using broad, firm strokes until it is mostly absorbed but a thin layer remains.
Timing: After Shower and Overnight
Use body butter right after your shower while your skin is still saturated with moisture to lock it in. Just pat dry, leave plenty of hydration on the skin.
Use body butter anytime day or night, but apply body butter just before bed for an overnight moisture treatment that is more intensive. Remember, leave plenty on the skin to work overnight.
To treat problem areas overnight, apply body butter liberally to hands and/or feet, and put on a soft pair of cotton socks and/or gloves.
Customize Your Routine
People with dry skin, those who work outside, and those whose skin needs more protection benefit from using body butter every day. But for people with normal to oily skin, acne, or sensitive skin, every 2 to 3 days, on problem areas, or as a weekly treatment might be a better plan.
Body Lotion vs Body Cream vs Body Butter
Body lotions, body creams, body butters, and related topical products all keep your skin hydrated, healthy, and soft with natural ingredients—yet they are very different. It’s important to realize that different skin types demand different products because there are so many options on the market.
Light vs Heavy
Lotion, specifically CBD lotion, has a non-greasy feel and is lighter than body butter, so it absorbs into the skin quickly. It’s a great option for those with not so dry skin because lotion is actually an emulsion blend of water and oils, not just fats. When you really need moisture that’s a little lighter, especially on the hands where extreme dryness isn’t an issue or the face, lotion is often best.
Lotion is non-sticky and often more hydrating initially because its water content is higher. (This is one reason butter users benefit from timing their application soon after a shower.) Lotion’s water content is higher, so it carries less fatty matter and spreads more readily. It can be used anytime and doesn’t clog pores, making it non-comedogenic.
However, with that heavier, slightly more balm-like feeling, body butter has a more substantial texture than lotion. It doesn’t add that initial boost of moisture from water content; instead, it forms a protective barrier and seals in what is already there. Body butter is ideal for people with dry skin generally, who live in arid, desert weather, who work outside, or who are fed up with dry patches on the hands, feet, elbows, knees, and legs.
Raw vs Refined Ingredients
For more intensive moisturizing or rougher skin, use body butter. This is also true for general body skin, but not sensitive areas like the face. That’s because unlike facial creams, body butters contain raw, less refined ingredients that are more basic. Due to these factors along with less water content and spreadability, applying body butters to sensitive facial skin can cause discoloration or acne.
Pores: Potential for Clogging
Along these lines, body butter typically contains shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil or other vegetable-based oils. It’s more effective at rescuing problem skin because it’s thicker than lotion, but this also means it has the potential to clog pores.
The Bottom Line: Body Butter vs Body Lotion
The difference between body butter and lotion is mainly that there is more fat content from oils in body butter, giving body butter a thicker consistency than body lotion and greater suitability for very dry skin. Therefore, the right choice really depends on your goals and your skin type.
Uses For and Benefits of Body Butter
Best-suited to dry skin, natural, organic body butters are richer and thicker than body lotions and creams. They protect the skin with high amounts of natural butters from cocoa, shea, or mango butters or natural oils such as almond, coconut, grape seed, hemp seed, or jojoba to protect your skin.
Yes, these make great all over body moisturizers, but these body butters are for a lot more than just slathering on your skin when you want it to feel softer:
Remove makeup. A tiny bit of body butter on a cotton pad, like other oily makeup removers, works to dissolve the day’s makeup right away. It even removes waterproof mascara—just don’t get body butter in your eye and use only a small amount. Wash your face when you’re done with a facial cleanser.
Nourish your hair. Natural body butter can replenish stressed, dry hair. Just rub it into dry hair and then wash hair as normal.
Problem patches. Body butters rehydrate and protect dry patches on ankles, elbows, knees, and heels. Apply liberally and cover with soft cotton cloth to boost your benefits.
Tired spots. Spots like your lips or neckline may benefit from body butter, especially CBD body butter that’s loaded with antioxidants.
Scars and stretch marks. Use body butters to reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks with fatty acids and vitamins.
Hands and feet. If you work outside, a rich body butter soothes dry palms and cracked knuckles and restores dry cuticles. Turn an ordinary day into a spa day and pamper your feet with body butter and a foot rub.
Soothe legs after hair removal. However you do it—shaving, waxing, or laser—it probably hurts and annoys your skin. Soothe and hydrate your skin all day with body butter.
Some of the benefits of using body butter include:
Moisture. Natural body butters keep the skin moisturized with natural ingredients such as emollients from nut and seed oils. Most lotions contain water, but body butter does not. Once applied to the skin, it lasts longer than any lotion and any extracts or scents in it last longer, too.
Nutrition. All body butters benefit the body with their essential omega 3 fats which help calm inflammation and moisturize. For example, shea butter is common in body butters and has been used for years to improve the skin. It contains vitamins A, E, and F and is known for hydrating the skin, nourishing it, and reducing inflammation. Shea butter is also rich in various acids (linolenic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic) that nourish and protect the skin and boost natural collagen production.
Protection. Body butters lock in moistures, forming a protective barrier over the skin that reduces the skin’s exposures to free radicals in the hot sun, dry air, and cold winter weather.
Experience. People love using body butters and report smooth, supple, silky, soft skin after using them. Some body butters can relieve dry, cracked skin and promote balanced, healthy skin even among people with psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions.
Value. With body butter, a little goes a long way, even if you have really dry skin. This is why it can ease up the pressure on your budget. And if you’re trying to administer CBD via a topical, it’s an awesome thick alternative that doesn’t get wasted.
Why CBD in Body Butter
The difference between body butter and things like lotion, explained above, is the reason you use them. Plus, if you know you want a CBD topical, your specific use for it may shape the right choice. But specifically, CBD lends itself naturally to body butter for a few reasons.
Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the Cannabis sativa or hemp plant’s active compounds. As a powerful antioxidant, it protects from free radical damage and calms irritated skin. The reason you usually consume CBD suspended in oil is because, like other cannabinoids, it is lipid-soluble, not water-soluble. As a result, cannabinoids like CBD must cling to lipid molecules to be delivered into the body.
When you use a CBD topical, a thicker topical that lasts long enough to soak into the skin works best for this reason—you’re giving the skin a chance to absorb the CBD. Body butter is a high fat substance, so it can both hold high levels of CBD and cling to the skin longer to deliver it.
The skin has its own endocannabinoid system, and like the ECS in the body itself, the skin’s ECS helps keep the skin balanced and healthy. CBD topicals can help support wellness and produce healthy skin by promoting stasis. Generally, some kind of imbalance is the root cause of most skin problems.
By avoiding the GI system and sticking to external use, applying CBD topicals may result in more constant plasma levels, allowing patients to more effectively manage inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, topical CBD products may also be used to treat acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Serving size, source, and quality control how effective topical CBD is, however, just like with other forms of CBD.
CBD topicals serve a unique purpose. Because topical CBD does not reach the bloodstream like other forms of hemp extract, these products are mostly used to treat muscle spasms, chronic pain, and tension. In other words, you’re just spot treating the cannabinoid receptors local to a particularly painful place on your body with a topical anti-inflammatory instead of treating your entire system.
[Disclaimer: The US Food and Drug Administration FDA has only recently begun to regulate this area. Before beginning to use a new product, check with your doctor, dermatologist, or another healthcare provider first.]
How to Make Your Own CBD Body Butter using CBD Isolate and Your Favorite Body Butter
Ready to take the plunge and DIY this? CBD isolate is pure CBD in the form of crystalline powder, and it’s really easy to mix into a recipe, just like sugar or flour.
It’s cooling off outside, so dry, cracked hands are coming, especially with this level of hand washing in our future. And let’s face it, tension headaches, period cramps, and sore muscles are never ending! Here’s how to make CBD body butter:
Time: 45 to 60 minutes
- 1 cup total organic raw butter, solid, chopped, your choice: (shea butter or cocoa butter)
- 1 cup total vegetable-based oils, soft or melted, your choice: (coconut oil, almond oil, hemp oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil—we like a coconut oil and almond oil blend the best)
- 6 tablespoons magnesium oil , depending on how strong you want it
- Multiple drops of lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, clary sage, tea tree oil, bergamot, or whatever essential oils you prefer (start with 15 to 30, go slow)
Optional additional organic ingredients
- goat’s milk
- mica powder for color
Makes just over 2 cups.
Melt butter(s) and any solid oil(s) over a double boiler. Do not heat liquid oils.
While still hot and totally liquid, stir in CBD isolate until dissolved.
Add in liquid oils, magnesium oil, and essential oils of your choosing.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes or until it is close to a butter thickness.
Whip the mixture with an electric whisk, hand-held mixer, or stand mixer for 1 to 2 minutes until a ﬂuffy body butter results. Move the final product to an airtight container, and store for 2 to 3 months out of direct sunlight.
Use only high-quality essential oils without synthetic ingredients to avoid adverse reactions. Never use essential oils in or on your ears or eyes.
Avoid adding alpha-hydroxy acid, retinoids, and artificial fragrances to CBD body butter because they can irritate your skin.
We recommend Extract Labs CBD isolate for use in this recipe. It’s an award-winning way to add CBD to your routine anyway, but this CBD Isolate is also lab-tested, CO2-extracted source of American-grown, hemp-derived CBD. It’s simple to use, and once you get started, you’ll love spoiling yourself with this stuff!
Can you use CBD oils in CBD body butter? Yes, but it can impact the shelf life and texture. It works much more smoothly with CBD isolate, in our experience.
Best CBD Body Butter
If You Don’t Want to DIY, we recommend Endoca Hemp Whipped CBD Body Butter instead.