Close your eyes for a moment and imagine: you’re in a dark and desolate place with no help around for miles, and you’re in pain. Excruciating pain. The feeling is so intense that you can feel it reverberating up and down your body. You’re even afraid to breathe.
Some of you reading this article may already be in this kind of physical pain. Now imagine relief flooding your body, as you feel each and every nerve ending relax, all the while a sense of euphoria and gratitude overcoming you.
Cannabis’s healing properties come in many forms. As a healer and pain reliever, its reputation truly precedes it, especially thanks to all the research and scientific attention it has gotten in the last few decades.
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Cannabis as a Pain Neutralising Agent
For many sufferers of acute pain, cannabis has become the pain reliever of choice – a preference that often supersedes expensive prescription painkillers. So how is it possible that a plant can relieve pain more effectively than even some of the most well-researched, patented drugs on the market?
The active compounds in cannabis plants are, in a way, a natural fit for our brain receptors – think of the two connecting harmoniously like a plug going into a power socket. It is due to how our grey matter reacts with cannabis compounds, that even the most lethal lab-manufactured chemical concoctions are often not as effective at combating pain as the green herb.
Cannabis topical lotions and particularly salves have become very popular in recent times – many regular cannabis users have, in fact, found clever ways to make their own salve at home. If you have the right materials and understand the steps involved, it may actually be easier than you think.
DIY marijuana salve serves as an incredible pain reliever, especially when massaged deeply into the skin. In fact, you can start to feel the effects in as little as 20 minutes. However, if you want faster pain relief, a deeper massage, followed by a 10-minute break and a hot soak in the bath tub for about 20 minutes, should do the trick.
Unbeknownst to some regular cannabis users may be the fact that salves have been part of an apothecary’s arsenal dating back to several hundred years – an ancient, tried-and-true and time-tested remedy for pain.
In modern terms, a salve may be described as a medical ointment with healing and soothing properties, when massaged onto the skin. Cannabis salves can provide long-term relief from not only topical wounds, but also skin irritation as well as internal pain and inflammation.
Here’s how you can easily make cannabis salve at home:
Steps to Making Marijuana Salve at Home
The recipe below will require a crock pot or Magic Butter Machine. If you prefer using a crock pot, make sure that it has a thermometer, because we’ll need to program it to 160°F. Generally, crock pots have a low/med/hi setting – the low setting typically corresponds to 160°F. We don’t need a higher setting to cook our ingredients.
Magic Butter recommends that when you’re cooking a single batch, you need at least 2 cups of oil in the machine. That’s exactly the amount you’re going to need for the crock pot as well.
To prepare a nice and strong cannabis salve, 2 cups of hash oil along with an ounce of flower is ideal. Once straining is complete, you’ll most likely be left with 12-14 ounces of finished herb in liquid form. However, this may be too much, especially since you’re about to make your very first attempt at making salve. Cut the finished herb in half – so that we are now working with a half batch, so to speak.
For reference, a cup of oil should have 28 grams of herb, which should yield roughly 5-7 ounces of liquid.
We feel that a crock pot is ideally suited to the task because it does not have a fixed ‘minimum recommended volume’ for hash oil. When using a Magic Butter Machine, you may end up making too much – which is why we recommend working with a half batch first to really make it worth your while. Involving just 4 steps, the entire process can take up to 5 hours.
On the subject of oils and butters, there are different ones you can use. Coconut and avocado oil are both great choices, although you can also use almond oil, which is particularly good for the skin. For a more luxurious touch, you can always mix a little bit of shea or cocoa butter; although, you can get creative and use two different oils for each cup.
The recipe we’ll be discussing is entirely oil-based – the finished product will likely last you up to a year if stored at room temperature.
It’s important to consider the kind of bud you’re going to use. A high-THC flower, for instance, will yield a potent formula, helping you find quick relief from pain and inflammation. For more pronounced pain relieving effects, you can add essential oils such as arnica oil.
In our personal experience, high-quality flowers are always best for making salves, as opposed to just leaves or trim.
Now, on to the ingredients:
Ingredients for ‘Full Batch’
- Cannabis flower – 28 grams/1 ounce
- Your choice of oil (we highly recommend coconut in at least one of the cups) – 2 cups
- Sunflower to allow for better bonding between cannabinoids and oil – 2 teaspoons
- Arnica oil if you’re making a plain blend – ½ ounce
- Beeswax pellets – 2 teaspoons (with almond or olive oil, double the amount shown here)
- Your favourite essential oil (lavender is good for starters) – 30 drops
- Natural cheesecloth (non-bleached) – at least a few yards
- One open-mouth mason jar – 24 ounce
- Small 1-ounce glass jars for storage
- Latex cleaning gloves, rubber spatula, glass bowl and slotted spoon
How to Make Your Cannabis Salve
The first step is to decarboxylate your flower:
- Using a cookie sheet that has foil lining, spread out your flower evenly
- Use another foil sheet to cover your flower
- Set toaster oven to 260°F for an hour
- Your flower should yield a light golden brown hue as opposed to getting burnt or over-toasted – it’s always a good idea to check your oven after half an hour just to be safe
The second step involves cooking your oil:
- Pre-melt 2 cups of your oil in a microwave – pour the ‘decarbed’ cannabis into your machine
- Stir the 2 teaspoons of sunflower until it’s blended
- Let your oil and decarbed flower cook for at least 3 hours – every hour or so, give it a gently stir
Now it’s time to strain your oil:
- After 3 hours, take the lid off and let it cool off for 10 minutes
- While allowing your oil to cool, use the cheesecloth to secure the top of the mason jar using a rubber band
- Spoon out the flower material from the oil and pour it over the cheesecloth into the jar; take off the rubber band and squeeze the jar with the cheesecloth; do this at least twice or thrice so that the flower is squeezed out properly, being careful because the material is going to be quite hot
- The oil from which the flower was extracted should be poured into another piece of cheesecloth
- Fold it over thrice onto the mason jar – if you still see small green remnants, pour it through another strainer
- Now pour all the strained oil into your mixing bowl
- Add the pre-melted beeswax and essential oils into the warm oil – stir thoroughly but gently
- Have the storage glass jars handy to pour the new oil mixture
- The beeswax quantity may need to be adjusted according to the oils you use – for example, oils like shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil solidify at room temperature, so you won’t need much beeswax – too much can make your salve more waxy than desired, making it difficult to absorb
Here’s how you’re going to finalise your product:
- Place the storage glass jars in a fridge for about 1.5 hours or 40 minutes if you’re using a freezer. This helps to set the oil more evenly while it’s cooling. Not only that but it will help the overall cooling process, if you’ve used 2 types of oils as both will have their own solidifying temperatures.
- Once your oil has cooled off properly, leave your salve in room temperature for at least an hour before putting the lids on your storage jars.
It’s always important to label your jars so that people in your home know that it contains cannabis meant for topical use only.
Bid Farewell to Pain
There you have it – an easy-to-follow recipe for making a basic, all-natural cannabis salve. Use it for inflammation, pains, strains and sprains, or as a soothing balm on bumps, scratches, itchy skin and even chapped lips.