The past couple of years has seen a lot of research put into the uses and benefits of cannabis. As legalization continues to advance to new jurisdictions around the world, scientific evidence is being used to remove the stigma around cannabis use and discover the truth about the substance after decades of myths have guided policy.
There remains a lot of apprehension about trying cannabis products. While many people are familiar enough with cannabis itself and smoking as a means of ingestion, other products remain a mystery, including edibles and topicals.
Cannabis topicals are non-psychoactive and are a versatile way to take advantage of the benefits of cannabinoids. Coming in lotions, patches, creams, sprays, lubricants, and balms, topicals are absorbed through the skin for localized relief. Topicals can be used to:
- enhance sexual pleasure,
- treat skin irritations,
- alleviate psoriasis,
- heal burns and bacterial infections,
- keep skin youthful,
- and reduce inflammation and arthritis.
Topicals can also be made from the comfort of your home. Here is an easy how-to guide to making simple homemade cannabis topical. This recipe is a safe topical salve but can also be further mixed to make full-body lotions, face masks or lip scrubs.
- 10 grams of ground, dried cannabis
- 1 ½ cups of coconut oil
- ⅓ cup olive oil (optional)
- ⅓ cup beeswax
- 1 baking sheet
- 1 saucepan
- 1 heat resistant glass jar
- 1 cheesecloth
- A few drops of essential oils of your choice
Step 1: Decarboxylate the Cannabis
The first step to making your own topical is to decarboxylate the cannabis. This process is essentially heating the cannabis in order to ignite the THC. Put a single layer of cannabis on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 240 degrees Fahrenheit, turning often to ensure equal heat exposure.
Step 2: Cannabis and Coconut Oil Mixture
While the cannabis is in the oven, begin heating the coconut and olive oil in a pot on low heat. Stir often enough that the coconut oil does not begin to stick to the pan. Once the decarboxylated cannabis is out of the oven and cooled, begin to stir it into the oil on the stove for 20–25 minutes. Stir occasionally. This way, you can infuse coconut oil with cannabis to create an effective topical.
PRO TIP: It is important to keep the mixer on the stove on very low. Unfortunately, if the heat gets too high, there is a chance of burning cannabis and affecting the potency of the THC.
Step 3: Beeswax and Jarring
After the cannabis and coconut oil mixture has simmered for 25 minutes, strain over the cheesecloth into a heat resistant glass jar and set aside to cool.
In the same pot, melt the beeswax and essential oil of your choice. Select a mild essential oil that you enjoy, such as lavender, peppermint, or tea tree oil. As the beeswax slowly melts, add the cannabis-coconut mixture, stirring often. Once the beeswax, cannabis, and coconut oil are thoroughly mixed, you have your cannabis-infused salve. Once cooled, this salve can now be used on its own as a topical rub or can be further mixed into Aloe Vera or cocoa butter to make more of a lotion type product.
Cannabis topicals are not yet regulated in many jurisdictions where cannabis itself is legal, but regulation is on the way and it’s believed topicals will become popular products for cannabis users who want pain relief.