CBD Salve: Why You Use it and How to Make it

Matt Weeks October 16, 2020 0 comments

The best way to manage symptoms of pain and inflammation on the skin could be a salve.

Medicating with a topical ointment allows patients to get all the benefits of the cannabinoid’s pain-relieving potential while avoiding the light drowsiness. Through a salve, the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD target a single location quickly, to relax sore muscles, ease inflamed joints, and soothe problematic skin.

It’s also easy to make at home — we’ll show you how.

Unlike THC, the other active ingredient in cannabis — and the one responsible for the “high” feeling — CBD doesn’t absorb into the bloodstream. A CBD salve, therefore, is unlike a CBD or THC patch, which are designed to enter the blood system.

Instead, CBD absorbs at the level of skin’s pores and no further. There, it reacts with cannabinoid receptors beneath the skin’s outer layer, connecting directly with sensory nerve fibers. That means CBD is ideal as the active ingredient in a soothing salve.

Why CBD for a Skin Salve?

CBD salves have a range of benefits. These have shown to help manage symptoms of puffy, inflamed skin. The salves also moisturize the skin, helping problems like psoriasis and eczema.

Importantly, research points to CBD salve as an effective way to help inflammation and pain. The Arthritis Foundation recently endorsed the potential benefits of CBD to manage joint inflammation.

This holds true for traditionally consumed CBD (orally or sublingually), as well as CBD salves. According to a study published in the European Journal of Pain (2016), a CBD salve was effective in reducing both inflammation and pain.

A salve may be powerful, but it’s not only for use against chronic disorders like arthritis. All over the internet, people have testified to the benefits of CBD salves for everything, from pulled muscles to aching feet from wearing high heels. And, since it’s easy to dose, the compound can be used on localized issues without wasting.

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cbd salve with cannabis leaf and buds

Making Your own CBD Salve

Luckily, this simple DIY project takes less than ten minutes.

What you’ll need: 1 cup CBD oil, 1 ounce of beeswax, 1 cup of a carrier oil (olive oil, sunflower seed oil, shea butter etc.), a tin or other container (e.g. mason jar) to hold the finished product, two pots to make a double boiler, and some essential oils (optional). This will make approximately 10 ounces of salve.

First, you’ll want to select a high-quality CBD oil. Luckily, there are lots on the market. Look for a brand that has third-party testing to verify its accuracy. Then, decide what else is important to you. Do you want strictly CBD or do you prefer a CBD with a spectrum of other cannabinoids?

Don’t be afraid to spend money. High-quality CBD oil isn’t cheap, and the more potent the product, the more expensive it is. When it comes to salves, remember that dosage guidelines are different than for edibles. A 1,000 mg gummy bear would be more CBD than is necessary for most people. But a 1,000 mg CBD salve typically speaks to the mass in the entire jar.

The amount of CBD you’ll want to use is up to you and the severity of symptoms. But, don’t go too low. A good beginning amount is 1,000 to 3,000 mg of CBD oil.

Carrier Oils for CBD

Next, pick a carrier oil. This is an often-overlooked aspect of CBD salves. Because of how CBD seeps into the skin, it’s important to select a carrier oil that works to cross the skin barrier but won’t clog pores. While coconut oil absorbs quickly, it can block pores, so if you have sensitive skin try starting with sweet almond oil or jojoba oil.

Next comes the beeswax. Some people like to add a little shea butter to the mix. That’s fine if it’s your preference, but it is unnecessary. Beeswax ensures the CBD salve will have a consistency effective for rubbing onto skin. So, get a good quality beeswax.

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And finally, the essential oils. These are purely optional. Some people like to add oils that give their salves a nice scent, while others believe essential oils can introduce an added healing element. Commonly used oils include arnica, hops, camphor, turmeric, and peppermint.

cbd salve with hemp seeds and leaf

How to Make a CBD Salve

Put your carrier oil and beeswax into the double boiler. If you’re using two pots instead of a double boiler, fill the bottom pot with a quarter full of water and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Fit a second pot on top. The second pot is where you’ll put the beeswax and oil. Stir the mixture until the wax melts.

Once the wax melts, add the CBD oil, and stir occasionally. The mixture should simmer, but not quite boil. You don’t want to overheat the CBD.

Once the CBD is mixed in, reduce the heat. Let the mixture cool to about eighty degrees, then you can add the drops of essential oils. Stir it up more to ensure the oils are mixed throughout.

That’s it. Pour your mixture into your containers, and let them sit out overnight to harden into a salve. It’s important to give the salve time to set, so that bubbles don’t form in the container. Once that’s done, it’s ready to use.

You can test it out by placing a few dabs wherever you feel pain, inflammation, or have sensitive skin. Simply rub it in and give it a few minutes. Relief should be on its way.

Author avatar

Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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