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 homemadecalendula 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.
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.
Homemade cannabis salve recipe
Our cannabis salve recipe starts with cannabis coconut oil. You can purchase an infused coconut oil product or use our homemade cannabis coconut oil recipe to make one yourself. We’ve adapted our cannabis salve recipe from this recipe posted on Homestead and Chill.
Cannabis salve ingredients and supplies:
- 1 cups infused cannabis coconut oil (recipe here)
- ½ cup coconut oil (if you have 1 ½ cups of cannabis coconut oil, you can omit the ½ cup of regular coconut oil and use the full 1 ½ cups for this)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup beeswax (or for a vegan option use shea or cocoa butter)
- 4-5 drops your favorite essential oil
- Dark, airtight container for storage
Homemade cannabis salve instructions:
Our recipe assumes you already have cannabis coconut oil on hand. If you don’t, you will need to either purchase some or use our homemade cannabis coconut oil recipe. Keep in mind that making this infused oil is a process that will take a decent amount of time. Be sure to account for the time it’ll take if you plan to make the infused oil and salve on the same day.
Additionally, we have kept this recipe at 1 ½ cups of coconut oil as the original recipe we sourced from used that amount. However, our cannabis coconut oil recipe makes one cup. That’s why we suggest adding one cup of infused oil and ½ cup of regular coconut oil. If you have more infused oil than that, you can feel free to add 1 ½ cups of infused cannabis coconut oil.
If you’re making the cannabis coconut oil for this recipe, feel free to double our cannabis coconut oil recipe. That way you’ll have extra coconut oil to use for foods rather than using it all up for homemade cannabis salve.
- Step one: Add beeswax or vegan option to saucepan
Bring to medium heat and stir frequently until it has completely melted. Now bring the temperature to low to avoid scalding.
- Step two: Reheat the cannabis coconut oil
Place one cup of the infused oil along with ½ cup of regular coconut oil into the saucepan. If you have 1 ½ cups of infused oil, feel free to add the full amount to the saucepan. Stir in with the beeswax on low heat until fully melted. Be sure to stir regularly to keep it smooth and mixed well.
- Step three: Drop in your favorite essential oil
You can add as much as you want to the mix, but 4-5 drops should be enough to create a strong and pleasant smell. This won’t necessarily cover the scent of cannabis, but it will add a pleasant layer to the scent of your product. We love to use rosemary essential oil for this recipe. Stir the essential oil into the mixture until well-combined.
- Step four: Transfer to storage
Once everything is well-combined, you can carefully transfer the mixture into a container. A tin or glass storage jar will work well, so long as it seals properly and keeps light out. It’s best to opt for a container that is not transparent to protect against light. If you store in a cool, dark place, it should be okay for a long time regardless.
The salve will cool off and harden. Then it will be ready for use! It should last for up to a year if it is stored properly.