How to Make Cannabis Salve with CBD or THC

Matt Weeks October 16, 2020 3 comments

Have you tried a cannabis salve to manage topical conditions and joint pain?

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 or THC 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.

Importantly, a salve will not absorb into the bloodstream. So, whether you choose a CBD-rich strain or one with high THC, there is no threat of becoming “high.”

Cannabinoids will absorb into the skin with the help of a carrier oil. There, it interacts with cannabinoid receptors beneath the skin’s outer layer.

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Why Choose 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 or THC Salve

Luckily, the is a simple DIY project that is very easy to complete with items that you have at home.

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If you don’t want to infuse your own cannabis oil, you’ll need to purchase a good quality one. And you will also need to increase the amount of beeswax in the recipe to about 2/3 a cup. Select a high-quality CBD oil. Look for a brand that has third-party testing, like KOAL by RxLeaf.

It’s true that high-quality CBD oil isn’t cheap, and the more potent the product, the more expensive it is. But, when it comes to salves, the relief you get will be in the quality of the bud or oil you put in. And remember that dosage guidelines are different than for edibles. For example, a 1,000 mg gummy bear would be more CBD than is necessary for most people. But a 1,000 mg CBD salve speaks to the mass in the entire jar, not each application.

Which Carrier Oil Should I Pick for CBD Salve?

Next, pick a carrier oil. This is an often-overlooked aspect of cannabis salves. Cannabinoids can’t cross the skin barrier without a fat to carry them over. And it’s also important to select a carrier oil that won’t clog pores. Virgin coconut oil is the top choice as it is solid at room temperature. Alternatively, if you have more sensitive skin, try sweet almond oil or jojoba oil. If going with the latter, be sure to increase the beeswax to about 2/3 cup so that your salve properly sets.

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 definitely not required. Beeswax ensures the CBD salve will have a consistency effective for rubbing onto skin. So, get a good quality beeswax.

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.

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cbd salve with hemp seeds and leaf

Recipe for Cannabis Salve: CBD or THC

Adapted From: Homestead and Chill

For this recipe we will use virgin coconut oil because it is solid at room temperature. Adding the beeswax will set it all into a nice salve.


1.5 Cups Virgin Coconut Oil
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Beeswax Pastilles (vegan option: soy wax)
10g cannabis ground cannabis flower (you can choose CBD rich or high THC)
1 tbsp Vitamin E (optional)
Essential Oil of your choice (optional)
Cheese Cloth
Double Boiler
Glass jar or salve tins

This recipe yields approximately 2 cups of salve.

FIRST: Infuse the Coconut Oil

  1. Use a double boiler or a sauce pot with a small amount of water and a metal bowl over it. Add the 1.5 cups of coconut oil and 10g of ground cannabis flower to the bowl. Heat at 150F for 60 minutes.
  2. Strain the infused coconut oil through a cheese cloth. You’ll have to squeeze it gently at the end, so it is a good idea to have kitchen gloves on hand as the oil will be hot.
  3. Set the strained oil aside and you can toss the flower remnants. You’ll want to move quickly here so that the coconut oil doesn’t start to set. If it sets, you’ll have to reheat at a higher temperature and that could cause some of the cannabinoids to degrade.

SECOND: Prepare the Salve Ingredients

  1. Add beeswax pastilles and olive oil to the double boiler (or pot/bowl rig). Heat on low and stir constantly until all is mixed well and smooth.
  2. This is the time to add essential oil (1 or 2 drops) or Vitamin E.
  3. Combine the infused coconut oil with the melted beeswax/olive oil mixture.
  4. Quickly pour into the glass jar or salve tin.

Let these sit overnight to solidify. Once that’s done, it’s ready to use.

You can test out your new cannabis salve by placing a few dabs wherever you feel pain, inflammation, or have sensitive or inflamed 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."


  1. Sharon Barrow

    SALVE RECIPE. I only have CBD oil. How many dropperfuls would be required if we can substitute it for the “flower”?

    • Jennifer Grant

      Prepared CBD oil will be in the range of 1g = 1mL. You can add 10mL of CBD oil to the full recipe. You’ll need to then reduce the olive oil to 1/4 cup.

  2. Shelly Krueger

    Can you use CBD distillate or Mixed RSO oil in this recipe? Thanks Shelly Krueger