Cannabis-infused lotions, salves, sprays, and other skin care products — known as topicals — are used for their non-intoxicating effects to help with localized pain and swelling, plus skin issues like psoriasis and eczema.
Commercial topicals will likely become legal in Canada sometime in 2019, but they aren’t completely off-limits to consumers. It just means you need to gather your cannabis and a few ingredients, hit the kitchen, and make your own. It may require a bit more effort, but by the time you’re finished you’ll have a natural product with no hidden ingredients. You’ll also be able to control the levels of CBD and THC in your balm, cream, or salve.
The crucial ingredient to make cannabis-infused topicals is, naturally, cannabis. The most versatile way to get cannabinoids into your topical products is going to be by infusing an oil of your choice.
You can buy cannabis oils legally from most authorized Canadian retailers. They’ll likely have more cannabinoids in them, but will cost a bit more.
If, on the other hand, you wanted to infuse your own oil, you could do that too. That way you’ll get to control which strain, THC/CBD balances, and terpenes are in there — you can do that too. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes on the internet to make infused oils (often called cannaoil), but in a pinch, you can do the following.
How to decarboxylate cannabis
Decarboxylation is the first step to maximize the potency of cannabis edibles or topicals. “Decarbing” is the process of using heat to activate the cannabinoids within the raw plant. This can be done in the oven at home.
- Decarboxylate your cannabis by grinding it, spreading it out on a baking sheet, and putting it in the oven at 225 F (110 C) for 30-45 minutes.
- Let the decarbed cannabis cool, and then mix it with an oil of your choice. For topicals, a good choice is coconut oil because it’s mild and very versatile when it comes to your skin. A good ratio is for each cup of ground cannabis, use about 1 cup of oil.
- Put the weed/oil mixture into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, giving it a stir every so often. It’s going to smell a little bit.
- Strain through some cheesecloth into an air-tight container, like a mason jar, and store in the fridge.
With that base, most of the hard part is over. We’ll use this cannaoil as the base for three common topicals: a lip balm, a facemask, and a pain relief cream. The following recipes have been adapted and tested by the author.
Cannabis-infused turmeric face mask
- 1 tbsp whole-milk yogurt
- 1 tsp powdered turmeric
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp cannabis-infused oil
Mix together in a small bowl, and put it all over your face. Turmeric leaves annoying yellow stains, so make sure to wear some old clothing. After 45 minutes to an hour, wash it off — a shower and several applications of soap will probably be required to make sure there’s no yellow residue — and you’re all set. (For those with facial hair: this also works well if you have time to do it after shaving.)
Cannabis-infused peppermint lip balm
- 2 tbsp infused coconut oil
- 2 tbsp shea butter
- 2-4 tbsp beeswax (less if you want a creamier lip balm, more for a firmer balm.)
- Peppermint essential oils (use as much as needed to balance out the smell of the cannaoil)
Melt the oil, shea butter, and beeswax together, stirring gently, in a double boiler set-up. Once everything is melted, start adding peppermint essential oils until you’re happy with the smell. Pour into small jars or empty lip balm containers.
- 1/3 cup infused coconut oil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 oz beeswax
Essential oils (for pain relief, peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary oils are recommended, among others; use what you have, or what smells you prefer.)
Very similar to the lip balm, mix in a double boiler set up, adding your preferred essential oils near the end. Let it cool in an airtight container. The final result will be a bit thick at room temperature, but will melt nicely when you rub it on your skin. You can also rub this on your temples and on the back of your neck to help treat headaches and migraines.
And as always with medicinal uses of cannabis, your mileage and experience may vary — but there’s no harm in testing it out to see what works for you.
Information provided in the article is based on user reported information and does not represent recommendations of healthcare professionals. The content is for general use and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always speak with a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health, new medical treatments or products you would like to try. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.