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Base Ingredients for Salves

Written by Lance Griffin

Salves are infused ointments that promote skin healing and protection. They can be used for pain relief and overall wellness. It’s fairly easy to make your own salve. But what about base ingredients? Let’s cover the basics and you’ll be boiling up salves in no time.

Ingredients for CBD Salves

 Salves are composed of three basic ingredients:

  1. Wax
  2. Oil
  3. Medicinal/therapeutic herbs

 Wax is the primary base of the salve. Beeswax is the most common choice, but carnauba wax and candelilla wax are vegan options. Less wax yields a softer ointment, and more wax results in a firmer salve.

Oil is used as a carrier for the medicinal/therapeutic components of the salve. The top choice is coconut oil because of the high amount of fatty acids. Fatty acids carry the medicinal ingredients. The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil make it particularly well-suited for cannabidiol (CBD).[1] Olive oil is another option. Shea butter and cocoa butter are also commonly used. You can even use avocado oil. Commercial salves may combine all five (and then some). There are different preferences regarding consistency and quality.

Step three is where things get complicated because you can infuse just about anything into your oil. Assuming you plan to infuse CBD, you might grind up CBD-dominant cannabis and steep it with the oil. This allows the CBD to latch onto the fatty acid molecules in the oil. DIYers use cheesecloth to filter the plant material out of the oil. Powdered CBD isolate or hemp extract can also be used.

You’ll need a double boiler to avoid scorching your ingredients, and the temperature must be controlled. Generally, infusion of the oil and CBD happens first. Then the wax is melted, and the infused blend is added to the wax. Once mixed and cooled, you have a salve.

Bonus Ingredients

We’ve covered the basics, but many DIY salve creators and commercial manufacturers go one step further and add essential oils to their concoctions. Lavender, peppermint, tea tree, rosemary, grapefruit, wintergreen, eucalyptus, and ginger essential oils are often peppered into the final salve. Menthol, vitamin E, and chamomile are also featured in certain commercial salves.

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  1. Zgair, A., et al. Dietary fats and pharmaceutical lipid excipients increase systemic exposure to orally administered cannabis and cannabis-based medicines. American Journal of Translational Research. 2016 8(8), 3448-59.

About the author

Lance Griffin