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Make a cannabis salve

How to Make a Cannabis Salve At Home: My Simple & Effective Recipe

Today I will share my home recipe that I use when making a cannabis salve. I have fine-tuned this recipe over a few years and find that this is the most effective and easy to make for most people 🙂
Hayley Smith
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Why are Cannabis Salves So Effective?

Have you ever pondered why using a cannabis salve on a sore muscle feels akin to a mini spa session? The answer lies in the cannabis-infused oils and shea butter, which work together with your body’s endocannabinoid system. This interaction allows the salve to target inflammation and pain right where you need it.

Homemade cannabis salve

The Science Behind Cannabis Salve

Diving a little deeper, our skin’s scientific makeup holds the key to the potency of cannabis salves. Our skin is home to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a vast network that regulates everything from cell growth to survival. When you apply a cannabis salve, the cannabinoids in the salve interact with this system, causing cell death, slowing down cell growth, and reducing inflammation. It’s like a targeted missile system for pain and inflammation, delivering relief exactly where you need it.

However, the scientific exploration extends further. The carrier oils used in cannabis salves, like coconut and olive oil, also play a crucial role. They not only deliver the cannabinoids to your skin but also carry their own skin benefits.

THC vs CBD Salves

All cannabis salves are not manufactured with the same efficacy. The two main types are THC and CBD salves and while they both interact with the endocannabinoid system, they do so in different ways.

THC salves bind directly to the ECS receptors, providing relief from pain and reducing inflammation. CBD salves, on the other hand, work by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the skin, muscles, and nerves, offering a more indirect approach. This is also why I find that THC salves with a high dose of CBD, are the most effective.

What implications does this have for you?

Comprehending the distinct benefits of THC and CBD salves enables you to tailor your homemade salve to cater to your specific requirements, be it pain alleviation, skin wellness, or tranquility.

Choosing the Right Ingredients for Your Cannabis Salve

Essential oils

Forming a cannabis salve that caters to your needs is akin to creating a masterpiece – it is primarily about selecting the appropriate ingredients. From carrier oils to waxes and essential oils, each ingredient has a role to play in enhancing the salve’s effectiveness and providing additional benefits.

Flower: CBD and THC

Before you start making your own salve, you need to decide weather you want a THC, CBD or blended salve.

For THC, you want to look at THCa flower which can be purchased online from reputable vendors (see my list here). CBD flower is also easy to buy online from my list of good CBD flower websites.

What you need to think about is that you will need a fairly large amount and flower can be quite expensive. So check if the brand you are buying from has an option of small buds, mixed buds, budget flower or other version of cheaper flower. Since you will make a salve, the bud structure and smokable effects are less important.

Carrier Oils: Coconut, Olive & Other Alternatives

Carrier oils are the unsung heroes of cannabis salves. They not only deliver the cannabinoids to your skin but also extract and retain the beneficial compounds from the cannabis, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the salve. Some popular choices for carrier oils include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Almond oil
  • Argan oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Sunflower oil

These oils, including cannabis oil, have skin-friendly properties and are known to absorb well into the skin, making them excellent choices for cannabis salves.

Alternatives like MCT oil and cocoa butter offer additional skin benefits and can be used to customize your cannabis salve to your liking.

Waxes: Beeswax, Soy Wax & Other Alternatives

Think of waxes in a cannabis salve as the binding ingredient, the one that holds everything together. They add thickness to the salve, preventing it from melting and ensuring a smooth application. Beeswax, in particular, is a popular choice due to its healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Looking for a vegan alternative? Candelilla and soy wax have got you covered! They can replace beeswax in your recipe, offering a different consistency while still delivering the desired effects. Simply use a double boiler to melt them and mix with other ingredients.

Adding Essential Oils for Enhanced Benefits

Essential oils are like the cherry on top of a perfect sundae – they enhance the therapeutic properties of your cannabis salve and provide additional benefits. For instance, lavender essential oil adds calming and soothing properties to the salve, boosting pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects. Other oils, like tea tree oil, calendula oil, and vitamin e oil, can boost skin health, making your salve a multi-purpose powerhouse.

Just remember, when adding essential oils to your salve, the rule of thumb is to maintain a ratio of 1 part essential oil to 4 or 5 parts oil.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Cannabis Salve at Home

Having explored the reasons and components, let’s delve into the creation process. Making your own cannabis salve at home might seem daunting, but don’t worry, it’s simpler than you think. Follow these steps to create a salve that suits your needs and preferences.


  • THCa flower – 7-grams
  • CBD flower – 7-grams
  • Candelilla wax – .5 cup
  • Almond oil – 1 cup
  • Cocoa butter – 1 cup
  • Tea tree oil – 3-5 drops


  • Grinder (for cannabis flowers)
  • Baking sheet
  • Double boiler or a heat-safe bowl over a pot of simmering water
  • Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
  • Container for storing the salve (like a glass jar)

1. Decarboxylation: Preparing Your Cannabis

Decarboxylated cannabis flower

The first step in making cannabis salve is decarboxylation. This fancy term simply means heating your cannabis to activate its cannabinoids. It’s like waking up the cannabis, getting it ready to deliver all its benefits.

  1. Preheat your oven to 240°F (115°C).
  2. Grind the THCa and CBD flowers coarsely.
  3. Spread the ground flowers on a baking sheet in a thin layer.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes. This process activates THC and CBD in the flowers.

2. Creating Cannabis-Infused Oil

Adding decarbed cannabis to the salve

Following this, we’ll focus on formulating the cannabis-infused oil. This involves combining your decarboxylated cannabis with a carrier oil and gently heating the mixture to extract the cannabinoids. The best temperature for this process is between 180-245°F, which ensures a gentle extraction of cannabinoids without damaging the valuable compounds.

After simmering for 2-3 hours, strain the oil through a sieve lined with cheesecloth to separate the oil from the plant matter. And there you have it – your very own cannabis-infused oil!

  1. Mix 1 cup of almond oil with the decarboxylated cannabis in a double boiler.
  2. Heat the mixture on low heat (180-245°F) for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Avoid boiling!
  3. After infusion, strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a bowl, removing plant material.

3. Mixing and Storing Your Cannabis Salve

The final step is mixing the cannabis-infused oil with wax and essential oils of your choice to create an oil mixture. This involves melting the wax, mixing it with the oil, and stirring in the essential oils until you have a smooth blend. The trick is to heat the mixture between 180-245°F, allowing all the ingredients to blend well without damaging the essential oils.

Upon preparing the salve, it’s imperative to store it appropriately to preserve its strength. Keep it in a cool, dark spot, away from direct sunlight and moisture. Storing it in the fridge can help it stay potent for even longer.

The icing on the cake? With proper storage, your homemade cannabis salve can retain its potency for up to 24 months!

  1. 1 part infused almond oil
  2. Heat until everything is melted and mixed well.
  3. 1 part cocoa butter
  4. 0.5 part Candelilla wax (adjust for desired thickness)
  5. Remove the mixture from heat.
  6. Once slightly cooled but still liquid, add a few drops of tea tree oil (be cautious with the amount as it can be strong).

Customizing Your Cannabis Salve: Tips & Tricks

Make a cannabis salve

The allure of crafting your cannabis salve lies in personalization to meet your unique needs and preferences. This includes adjusting its potency, consistency, and adding additional ingredients for enhanced benefits.

Adjusting Potency and Consistency

When it comes to potency, several factors come into play, including the type of cannabis used, the amount of cannabis-infused oil in the recipe, and the duration of oil infusion. Grasping these factors will allow you to tweak the potency of your salve according to your requirements. Remember, it’s always best to start with a lower strength and gradually increase it until you find what works best for you.

The consistency of the salve, on the other hand, can be adjusted by altering the ratio of carrier oil to wax. More carrier oil will result in a softer salve that melts quickly on the skin, while less will create a firmer, thicker salve. So, whether you prefer a light, smooth salve or a rich, creamy one, you have the power to create it using aloe vera gel as a base!

How to Use Cannabis Salve Effectively

So, you’ve successfully created your cannabis salve – what’s next? Knowing how to utilize it effectively is key to maximizing the benefits of your salve. This includes proper application and safety precautions to ensure optimal results.

Application Tips

When applying cannabis salve, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the affected area first.
  2. Apply a dime-sized amount of salve.
  3. Gently massage it into your skin.
  4. The salve works best when applied to specific areas that are hurting or swollen, targeting the pain and inflammation right at its source.

Remember, the right amount for one application can vary for everyone. It’s best to start with a small amount, like a few drops, and add more if needed. And the best part? You can apply it up to four times a day!

Safety and Precautions

Even though cannabis salve is generally safe and non-intoxicating, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects and safety precautions. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid applying the salve on open wounds or in your eyes.
  • Perform a patch test to check for any allergic reactions before applying it to a larger area.
  • If you notice any adverse reactions such as itching, redness, or difficulty breathing, stop using the salve and consult a healthcare professional.

As is the case with any new product, it is advisable to start with a slower pace, keep an eye on your body’s responses, and modify the usage accordingly.


From understanding the science behind cannabis salves to creating your own at home, this journey has revealed the power of cannabis in a whole new light. Whether you’re seeking relief from muscle pain, skin irritation, or simply looking for a natural way to take care of your skin, cannabis salves offer a versatile and customizable solution. Remember, the key is to start slow, experiment with different ingredients, and adjust the potency to suit your needs. Happy crafting!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best oil for cannabis salve?

For maximum shelf life and optimal results, jojoba, olive or coconut oil are the best oils to use when creating a cannabis salve. Adding Vitamin E at around 0.5% of the weight of the recipe can also help extend the product’s shelf-life.

How do you make CBD pain salve?

Melt beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter together, cool it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes until it starts to solidify, add vitamin E oil and CBD, then transfer to a jar with a lid. Voila! You’ve got your own homemade CBD pain salve.

Can I add essential oils to cannabis salve?

Yes, you can add essential oils to cannabis salve by melting the wax and carrier oil in a double boiler before gradually adding the CBD oil and essential oils, stirring until well combined.

How do you make topical salve?

To make a topical salve, simply combine oil with wax or butter to achieve a semi-solid mixture. Beeswax is the most commonly used ingredient for this purpose.

How long does homemade cannabis salve last?

Stored properly, homemade cannabis salve can last up to two years.

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