Cannabis usually touches our lips on the business end of a joint, bong, or pipe, but what about in a home-made batch of lip balm? Cannabis topicals like lip balm are applied directly to the skin (or lips) in order to soothe a variety of ailments, and can be an effective treatment for conditions like psoriasis or eczema. A cannabis lip balm can be an effective way to soothe dry or cracked lips, and is quite easy to make on your own.
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What are cannabis topicals and what will (and won’t) they do?
If you’ve been in the beauty aisle at your local pharmacy you’ve probably noticed that there is no shortage of topical solutions made with cannabis. These range from creams and salves to gel lubricants and beyond. All are meant to be applied directly to the skin, where they provide localized relief.
Cannabis topicals can activate the cannabinoid receptors in the skin, but are not able to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream, so their effect is limited – and they won’t get you high.
But what can they do? Topicals can soothe skin conditions largely due to the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids, and even if there is no mountain of evidence of their efficacy, there are many cannabis users whose anecdotal evidence speaks volumes about the benefits of topicals.
Tips and common mistakes with cannabis topicals
- When making your own batch of cannabis lip balm, you’re going to want to make sure not to add any ingredients – like essential oils – that you are allergic to, or which you would not want to place directly on your lips. Some of these essential oils could be great for a cannabis hand lotion, but like elsewhere in life, not everything that you place your hands on should go in your mouth as well.
- In general, any form of medicine, beauty product, or clothing that is meant to be applied externally should probably not be ingested or inserted into bodily orifices.
- Finally, and maybe this is obvious, but don’t try and smoke, vape, or dab your cannabis lip balm. Topical solutions are meant to be applied externally, not pulled into the lungs.
Don’t forget to decarboxylate
Decarboxylation is an essential step in making cannabis edibles in that it converts THCA to THC, allowing it to get you high when you eat it. And while you won’t (we hope) be eating your cannabis lip balm to get high, you’re still going to want to decarboxylate in order to make sure that the cannabinoids are firing at full blast.
How do you decarboxylate cannabis? Simply heat up some weed for 30-45 minutes at around 220-245°F (105-120°C). Just be careful and check every 10 minutes or so to make sure that the herb isn’t burning or too close to the coils in the oven.
How to make cannabis coconut oil
Most cannabis lip balms (and cannabis salves) use cannabis-infused coconut oil as a central component in the base.
Luckily, making cannabis-infused coconut oil is quite easy.
You can skip this step if you already have infused coconut oil.
- Take a double boiler and place 1.5 cups of coconut oil in the top section and pour water into the bottom.
- Place the decarboxylated cannabis in the top section with the oil, stir the two together and heat on low — 130-150°F (55-65°C) — for about three hours. In a slow cooker or saucepan, combine both the weed and the oil and cook at the same low for around three hours.
- Turn off the heat and strain the oil through a cheesecloth after it has cooled enough to handle. One crucial tip: after the oil has drained through, make sure to give the cheesecloth a few more squeezes – there should still be a lot left in there.
How to make cannabis lip balm
Making your own cannabis lip balm is probably a lot easier than you may think and doesn’t require any sophisticated equipment.
This recipe from Wake + Bake is about as easy as can be, and is also very simple to customize with your own additions.
- Place a double boiler on the stove on medium-high heat, and melt the cannabis-infused coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, and avocado oil together in the top of the boiler.
- Take a couple of drops of the mix and let it cool in the fridge until firm. If it’s not firm enough add more beeswax. You can also add a bit more avocado oil to make a shinier lip balm.
- Add in any essential oils that you like.
- Pour the mix into lip balm tubes or small tins.