DIY Cannabis Topicals – Marijuana Lotion, Cannabis Salve Recipes & More!


What’s all the hype about marijuana lotion, anyhow?

Marijuana salve or lotion provides a different way of medicating with cannabis and experiencing the soothing and pain relieving effects of cannabis while still being able to drive a car, work, and go about activities the same way you would if you had taken an aspirin.

Cannabis creams will not make you feel “high” or intoxicated, typically. The topical medicinal benefits of cannabis have been known for thousands of years in India and China. There are a lot of benefits to this newly rediscovered way to enjoy and obtain benefits from the cannabis plant.

Even in California. we have a limited selection of cannabis lotions and cannabis spa products. This is why I love DIY! I am going to share one of my favorite tip for making cannabis salves and lotions at home:

the cannabis spa academy

The Basics – Cannabis Oils

Before you start kvetching about getting together a bag of shake and somehow turning it into an extract – check and see if your local dispensary carries RSO or Full Cannabis Extract as described in this review blog. If you can find it you are in luck! Because THIS is exactly what you need to start with when making your own marijuana pain relief lotion or salve without a lot of elbow grease or special extractions.


Full Cannabis Extract is a thick oil that has been fully decarboxylated – this sets it apart from smokable hash oils and concentrates. Full Cannabis Extract has been heated previously to change the cannabinoids into the form which is active. Cannabinoids must be heated to activate, otherwise they cannot be used by the body. The only downside to Simpson oil is that it will stain your skin green, depending on how much you use. Simpson oil is probably best for recovery and pain lotions and balms, and not everyday moisturizers.

To make a base oil with the Simpson oil:

1. Gently warm the base oil of your choice to about 200 degrees–my recommendations are base oils that are high in oleic acids and hypoallergenic such as olive, sunflower, and rice bran oil.

2. Add three grams or more of the Simpson oil to the warmed base oil and gently stir until it fully dissolves.

Keep your concentrated oil refrigerated until adding to your lotion, oil, balm or other topical product. It is decarboxylated now and should be kept cool and dark so as not to degrade further.

Quick Cannabis Lotion Ointment

In my book, I have several recipes for a strong cannabis base oil to use with topical recipes that includes flower, trim, and other concentrates like hashish – check those out if you’d like to use that instead of RSO!

You can make a really quick cannabis lotion ointment using mango seed butter and the concentrated oil base with the essential oils of your choice – try it! This can be shaken and brought to room temp or a little cooler for a shelf-stable lotion that can be squirted from a bottle or refrigerated to create a firm cannabis salve.

1/8 cup of the concentrated oil

1/2 cup mango seed butter

Melt both together gently and add your desired essential oils. Allow this to set up again in the refrigerator and keep it refrigerated for best results!

Another great recipe that is so lush and beautiful is my Cannabis Rose Butter recipe. This too is made with mango seed butter, but the cannabis is infused directly into the butter along with dried roses. It’s great for dry skin and wrinkles!

The Cannabis Spa at Home is the first book to be published about the groundbreaking topics of external cannabis preparations like marijuana massage oil recipes, lotions, bath salts, balms, poultices, ointments and so much more! The book has 75+ recipes and a complete “Quick Start” chapter that will get you started making your own cannabis massage oil, lotion, and other topical products with ingredients you have in your kitchen right now!

BUY NOW THE CANNABIS SPA AT HOME is available at these fine retailers:


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* The opinions and ideas here are solely those of the editorial staff and are not meant for legal or medical use or advice. Please consult your doctor and attorney for advice on medical cannabis.

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Sandra Hinchliffe ⋆ EIC Hempista Magazine ⋆ Author of The Cannabis Spa at Home

Sandra Hinchliffe ⋆ EIC Hempista Magazine ⋆ Author of The Cannabis Spa at Home

I'm the author of The Cannabis Spa at Home, the founder and EIC of Hempista Magazine and the SpaKind app. I like flowers, herbs, fancy salts, and hot mineral springs. Get in touch--visit the About page.
Sandra Hinchliffe ⋆ EIC Hempista Magazine ⋆ Author of The Cannabis Spa at Home

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  1. So, I have been able to try some “club” products. Um..they aren’t like mine at all? 1st, I really smell the cannabis in the stuff I make! Some people don’t like that! Any suggestions? There are so many opinions. After 4-5 batches of salve I’m still not REALLY liking what I make. Oh, it works, that’s for sure but it smells and it’s oily. I like all this oil and beeswax but if I was putting on work clothes I would not want to slather this all over. On the other hand, people always ask me about my perfume? Trial and error is expensive :)

  2. LOL…try making a lotion…mix cannabis tincture with coconut oil and emu oil…works great.

  3. No. Not Coconut. Oil. 😉

    In order for the cannabinoids to penetrate transdermally really well you need a helper like oleic acid (olive oil, rice bran oil). Coconut oil doesn’t have oleic acids.

  4. I’m talking about when you make tincture. Can’t you just boil trim/nugs in water with some coconut oil to make tincture? And then mix the solidified tincture with emu oil.

  5. Coconut oil is the vegan version of butter and it’s awesome for popcorn in my opinion… or rather POTcorn if you want to do that. But for cannabis topicals – oh no. I understand some people may enjoy the smell, that’s great! But it doesn’t have the oleic acids necessary for really good delivery topically. Emu oil does have high oleic acids, but this is an animal oil and it doesn’t deliver transdermally any better than olive oil which is bursting with oleic acids and is very shelf stable, vegan and allergy friendly.

  6. So what do you suggest? Just mixing trim/nugs in water and olive oil? Do I need some form of alcohol for extraction?

  7. Olive oil is a fat and will extract everything from the flowers quite nicely like butter or any other oil. :) I like to decarb for topicals. Not every topical formula is decarbed at the dispensaries – some people do prefer fresh, and I’ve even heard of people using cannabis roots. I get the best pain relief when it’s decarbed, so that’s how I do it. :) Flowers in olive oil gently heated to around 300 degrees for 15 minutes, then allow that to sit and cool overnight and you will have a nice base to add to off-the-shelf lotions – or even use it straight and rub into sore joints, etc.

    There is a quick start chapter at the beginning of my new book (coming soon!) that will get anyone up and running quickly with simple balms right out of the cupboard. (shameless plug I hope you don’t mind 😉 )

  8. I bought some Indicreme and some Doc Green’s Healing Cream. Have you tried them? Let’s see how they work. Have you published any books yet?

  9. I have tried Doc Green’s and I liked it a lot when I first started getting into topicals a few years ago. They were one of the first topical companies. It’s a silky lotion that is totally non-greasy. I haven’t tried Indicreme, let us know what that’s like! I find that I use a lot more cannabis in my homemade lotions and balms than the formulas at the dispensaries do. I also have extreme pain levels. When I have purchased a lotion at the dispensary I have almost always added some extra Rick Simpson oil to it.

    The thing to remember about shelf stable lotions is that they contain water, and anything that is shelf stable and contains water ALSO contains a preservative. Doesn’t matter how “organic” it sounds on a label, if they don’t put preservatives in a lotion it will explode with dangerous microbes.

    This presents a real problem for people with health conditions like autoimmune or other conditions where the doctors have advised against preservatives. When I make my homemade lotions, I refrigerate them and use them quickly so that no preservative is required.

    Modern convenience necessitates these preservatives. It’s a personal choice between you and your doctor. I also make my own shampoo and soap now – everyday stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with cannabis. Shampoos and soaps off the shelf also contain these preservatives.

    I am going to have an announcement about the upcoming book in a couple of weeks! It’s all top-secret right now though. ;-D This will be my first time publishing.

  10. Indicreme works well I guess…but I have nothing to compare it to. Doc
    Green’s Cream is arriving on Monday. Indicreme is very expensive. $30
    for almost 2oz…then there’s $45/20z of the Xtreme Indicreme. Xtreme gives you a very mild body high. I’m
    thinking of making my own lotion. Indicreme consists of aloe vera and
    emu oil as the major base and a little coconut oil. I also make my own soap from human fat. HAHA Fight Club! Can you mail me some of your homemade balms and lotions please?

  11. lol love Fight Club! 😉

    I just find emu oil unnecessary and expensive. At least they have the right idea when it comes to using high oleic acid fats for topicals. BUT Emu oil is not going to work for vegans. And I am wondering if it may set off sensitivity in people with egg or feather allergies? Dispensaries calling themselves centers of wellness need to really watch these topicals and label them correctly for allergens. Like shea butter – a known allergen for those with latex allergies.

  12. You seem like you know your stuff. So you recommend Doc Greens? I hope it works better than Indicreme. Indicreme’s way too expensive and I’m not exactly sure if it’s worth it. When you prepare cannabis oil or tincture, how dry does the trim have to be? Can it be fresh off the plant?

  13. I wish I could tell you something about using fresh cannabis as opposed to dried in making a topical! I don’t grow and the dispensaries only sell the dried plant material and hashish. I typically do not use dried trim for topicals – i like the $10 hashish and keif grams and one of those is plenty for 8-16 oz of lotion, depending on the pain relief you need. Rick Simpson oil is my first choice for heavily medicated pain balms. Someone needs to nominate Mr. Simpson for the Nobel prize. I am totally serious. I am a huge advocate of his whole extract oil formulation and many people have found a great deal of relief using his oil formulation.

  14. I am totally making my own Rick Simpson oil after I grow. I am also getting into the hemp industry. I will call my company U.S. Hemp. We will bigger than U.S. Steel. First I need to find a way to blackmail congress into issuing me a hemp farming license. That’s the biggest hurdle. I’m going to be a hemp farmer and I’m going to change the world with my magic plant. My hemp fibers will become super-strong construction materials for schools and housing, and hemp also makes excellent liners for cars. I will power my company with hemp fuel!! With my seeds, I will feed the poor and malnourished with highly nutritious foods like hemp-seed oil, hemp milk, hemp pasta, hemp cereal, the list goes on. Also I will clothe everyone with high quality hemp clothes which will keep them warm and will last for years. My sustainable, eco-friendly vision will change the world….

  15. So don’t use coconut oil to extract cannabinoids for the topical, use olive oil, CHECK! But for those who do enjoy CCnut Oil as their moisturizer… couldn’t we do the cannabinoid extraction process with the live oil as you suggest and then add the concentrate of that like you say (1 tbls to > the coconut oil as a moisturizer?… so plan on warming 3grams of dry ice keif to one cup of olive oil at 300 degrees for 15 minutes to activate it for topicaluse. then I will add 1 tbls. to about a cup and a half of coconut oil. I plan on using this as a pain cream for massage. what do you think? think it sounds like a plan that’ll do the trick? Thanks for ant help & the thread!

  16. I thought concentrated cannabis products are created with extreme cold, not heat. What product are you talking about that is created using heat? Thanks

  17. I’ve been looking for a recipe of a cream for wrinkles and scars ( I have quite a bad one on my neck).Any ideas out there ?

  18. How did I miss this question? I think the cannabis rose recipes in my book are really nice for beauty diy, try those out.

  19. Pingback: Topical Cannabis Treatments – the daily puff

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