You’ve probably heard about how therapeutic cannabis is and how it can treat any ailment from muscle pains to glaucoma. But do you know that you don’t need to rely on dispensaries and local medical cannabis shops to purchase medical cannabis products? You can follow our cannabis salve recipe and make your cannabis treatments at home.
What is a cannabis salve?
A salve is a term for a healing solution, a product used to give temporary relief to a variety of ailments. A cannabis salve is made primarily from cannabis plus other therapeutic ingredients. Salves can be in the form of balms, thick creams, and ointments.
The composition of a homemade cannabis salve depends on what you want the salve to be. If you want to use your homemade salve to relieve muscle pain and headaches then you would need a cannabis strain that can naturally deal with pain. If you need relief from stress, anxiety, or fatigue then a strain that can help with these conditions would be the best choice.
Aside from weed, there are a few important components of a therapeutic salve. Natural oils are needed to bind with the natural cannabinoids in weed to make your salve effective. You can select from a variety of natural oils like olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, and many more.
We prefer coconut oil from all other oils because it’s rich in saturated fat. This kind of fat effectively binds with cannabinoids. Also, coconut oil is very moisturizing and this can help lock in moisture in the skin to avoid dryness. Coconut oil also has anti-microbial, anti-acne, and anti-pruritic properties.
An additional ingredient in most effective cannabis salves is olive oil. This is another carrier oil that moisturizes well and helps improve cannabinoid absorption and improves skin smoothness. Just like coconut oil, olive oil can treat acne and will hydrate skin better.
Some salves available in the market contain special ingredients that improve their effectiveness. A popular add-on is a beeswax. It is nutritious, easy to use, and will enhance the consistency of the final product.
With all these amazing ingredients, how do you add cannabis? Do you grind it and sprinkle it in oil? The best way to do this is to make cannabis oil from weed first before you mix it with the other components.
Decarbing your weed
Decarboxylation is an important process that involves heating cannabis for a particular time and a specific low temperature to change raw cannabinoids to their potent form. From raw, inactive forms THCA and CBDA, these are transformed to THC and CBD when weed is decarbed.
When dried weed is smoked or vaped, decarboxylation naturally happens as weed is directly exposed to very high burning temperatures. But when you make cannabis products like oils, concentrates, and edibles, you are working with raw weed and before you use weed, it has to pass decarboxylation first.
The best way to decarb weed before it is used to make oils is to heat a batch in a conventional oven. Take a few ounces of weed, scatter these on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper, and place in an oven and bake at 230 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Check the baking weed often, use a silicone spatula to move the weed around to allow even decarbing.
Why decarboxylation is important in medical cannabis
Because you are transforming raw cannabinoids into their active forms, you are enhancing their medical or therapeutic qualities as well. The medical effects of decarbed weed are documented in many medical journals.
Decarbed weed has great anti-inflammatory properties. It can help relieve pain especially muscle spasms and is rich in antioxidants that benefit the body. When CBD and THC work together, the effects are amazing. THC is very effective for pain, especially chronic pain while CBD can deal with all kinds of medical conditions like arthritis, seizures, and anxiety.
Lately, some studies reveal that CBDA and THCA also have good therapeutic properties. THCA is seen as a cannabinoid that can help with cancer, arthritis, inflammation, and muscle pains. CBDA can deal with inflammation and tumors.
Aside from CBD and THC, there are more compounds in cannabis that can create individual or interactive therapeutic benefits. Some of these components are flavonoids, terpenes, and phytocannabinoids. When making salves, it does not matter if you’re using CBD or THC-rich weed because you’ll be applying this topically anyway.
So in this simple cannabis salve recipe, we will be using decarbed and raw cannabis to create a more therapeutic form of salve.
Easy to follow cannabis salve recipe
Things you need
- About 10 grams of decarbed weed – this should be ground or cut into small pieces.
- About 5 grams of raw cannabis – this should be dried and cured well
- 1 and a half cups of coconut oil
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1/3 cup of beeswax – if you can’t find beeswax, substitute organic soy wax, cocoa butter or shea butter
- Essential oils (optional) – choose from lavender oil, peppermint, tea tree oil, lemon oil, rosemary oil, and eucalyptus oil
- Vitamin E (optional) – a teaspoon of vitamin E to add more antioxidants and to improve moisture
You need the following equipment
- Double-broiler – if you don’t have one, you may use a Pyrex bowl or a stainless bowl placed on top of a saucepan with hot water.
- Mixing bowls
- A cooking thermometer
- Glass jars or tins to keep the final product.
This recipe will make 2 cups of salve. With two cups, you can make a dozen or more salves in small tins. But if you want to make less, use 5 parts of oil to a part of beeswax.
1. Decarb your weed first
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. While waiting for your oven, grind the weed into very small pieces. Take the cannabis and spread it over a baking tray lined with a piece of a baking sheet or parchment paper. When you’re set and the oven is ready, place the baking trays in.
Let your weed bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Use a spatula to turn the weed bits so you’ll get even results. After 30 minutes, remove the tray from the oven and set this aside on your counter.
2. Make your cannabis oil
Prepare the double-broiler by adding water at the bottom part. Place 1.5 cups of coco oil to the upper section of the broiler. Let this heat until the coconut oil melts to a transparent liquid.
Add the decarbed weed to the oil while it’s still in the broiler. This is the time to add the raw cannabis. This has to be ground to the size of the decarbed cannabis bits.
Heat the oil in the cannabis in low heat for 60 minutes. Use a spatula and stir this mixture occasionally.
Use a probe thermometer to accurately check the temperature of the mixture. You must cook the oil to a temperature below 200 degrees Fahrenheit so you must do all you can to maintain this temperature.
After 60 minutes, use a cheesecloth or a fine strainer to strain the oil. Place the strainer or cheesecloth on top of a glass bowl. Pour the mixture in and let the pure oil move through the material. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth together and squeeze all the extra oil from the plant material.
Place the newly strained oil aside and let it cool. This is your pure THC or CBD oil
3. Add the salve oils and other ingredients
Still using the double-broiler (you may also use a small pot), place the beeswax on the top section and heat it until this has melted completely. Reduce the heat to low and add 1 ½ cups of the cannabis oil mix and about 1/3 cup of olive oil.
This is the best time to add the essential oils and vitamin E. Use a spatula to stir everything. You must ensure that all the ingredients have been mixed completely. Remove the mixture from heat and set this aside to cool.
4. Store your homemade salves
Cool the mixture down in a few minutes but don’t let it harden in the pot or bowl. Transfer these to your preferred storage containers. We recommend shallow tins or shallow dark jars to keep the finished product.
5. Cover and keep
When you’re satisfied with the content of each container, cover and keep in a safe and dark location. Light can significantly reduce the power of cannabinoids and therefore it’s best to keep your salves in a dark area.
It’s also best to label your salve even if you don’t plan to sell them. Use mini stickers; write the date when you prepared the salve and the ingredients. We recommend writing the type of strain you used to help you identify which salve works best.
For example, write Northern Lights salve, the date prepared, other ingredients you used, and other important information.
Your cannabis salve is ready!
Some important points
As you can see, making salves is a very straightforward thing to do. However, we recommend that you consider these tips:
- Use a handy cooking thermometer to carefully monitor temperatures. Never overheat your oil because it will only destroy CBD and THC and other cannabinoid compounds. More than 200 degrees Fahrenheit is unacceptable.
- Oil has a higher smoke point or boiling point than water so monitor the temperature using a probe thermometer.
- Use only clean, sterile tin containers or amber or blue-colored jars to store your homemade salve. These types of storage equipment can help prevent light from destroying the therapeutic components of the salve.
- After your salve has cooled, you will notice that some may crack while some stay solid. Although this is not important as you will dig into the salve eventually, it still best to create the most aesthetically, Instagram-worthy salve.
To avoid the cracking issue, put the salve in a mixing bowl before you transfer this in small tins. Let the salve partially cool in the mixing bowl and solidify very slightly. When you notice this, whip it up just before packing and storing it in small containers.
- There is a distinct but delightful mild weed smell but not too strong that it overpowers other ingredients. Aside from the weed smell, you will also smell coconut oil which usually smells like freshly-baked macaroons. If you don’t want the slight weed smell, you can mask it with essential oils. There are many types of essential oils available. You can even match the smell of your salve with the smell of your shampoo, lotion or soap
- Keep your homemade salves in the best cool and dark containers. When properly stored these can last for a year. But expect a slight decrease in potency as THC and CBD as well as other cannabinoids can decrease in time. This means that if you notice a reduction of pain in just five minutes, an old salve can treat pain in 10 minutes.
- Use a salve spoon. This will avoid contamination which can lead to molds and mildew. If you want to use your hands to dig in, be sure to wash your hands and dry them before you scoop a small amount of salve.
- Adding a few drops of essential oils will not just mask the weed smell but will also provide healing aromatherapy properties.
- Never leave the salve anywhere where there are children and pets. They may think that this is food because of the smell and eat it.
- Make more cannabis salves using different strains of weed. Experiment on what strain works with a particular ailment. Just remember to use the salve soon but if you plan to keep it longer, preserve it by sealing the tin can or storage jar.
Now that you know how to make cannabis salves using a simple cannabis salve recipe, it’s time to make your own at home. We recommend using organic cannabis or weed you grow at home to ensure the safety and effectiveness of your homemade salve. Good luck and have fun following this easy recipe.