Living on the fifth floor of a walkup has its perks. For example, nice legs, a cool view of the Freedom Tower, and NOT having to smell the full force of ground level Chinatown. But when I have to carry heavy things like laundry up that mountain, I am left with sore shoulders for days on end.
Pain creams don’t run cheap, and I don’t even think they last that long, so I did some research and came up with my own DIY broad spectrum pain balm. And it's way simple to make.
Essential oils give this recipe its power--I use a variety of oils, but feel free to skip over any you don’t have. Some of the more common ones to keep around, like cinnamon and peppermint, are just the ticket to that familiar, soothing hot and cold "burn" feeling.
I wanted a bit of a greasy feel, to allow the carrier base to provide staying power for the oils, so I combined thick castor oil with skin-penetrating grape seed oil. But the best part about this DIY is that it's done in one pot for minimal clean-up.
The most important thing is not to overheat the essential oils; this prevents them from vaporizing on contact with the hot grape seed and caster oils.
Using one container to store and melt the project makes it super easy to snatch the container out of the water bath at the perfect moment.
To start, set up a clean work area and gather all of your tools and supplies.
- grape seed oil
- castor oil
- essential oils (EOs, as I like to call them)
I used the following EOs: cinnamon cassia, cinnamon bark, clove, ginger, cedarwood, rosemary, thyme, frankincense, tea tree, camphor, eucalyptus, and tea tree.
- small glass Mason jar
- small metal whisk
- crock-pot (or a regular pot over VERY low heat)
- bartender’s jigger
Pour a few inches of boiling water into a crock-pot and cover for a few minutes while you round up the ol’ EO collection.
Next, measure 3/4 oz. of grape seed oil, 1/4 oz. castor oil, and 1/2 oz. beeswax in a clean glass jar.
Place in a shallow hot water bath and cover for three minutes or so.
In the meantime, don’t be like me and have to rush to open each bottle: open all of your EO bottles and sit the caps in front of them. This will allow you to quickly dispense each one into the warm balm base once it has melted.
Uncover the slow cooker and stir the base.
When the wax pellets begin to look smaller, you can take the jar out of the water bath. The residual heat will melt the beeswax the rest of the way.
Then just dispense the EOs into the warm base, stir, and allow to cool.
I used the following recipe, but you can change this any way you want. The basic premise is to have large amounts of hot oils and cool oils suspended in the base, with frankincense thrown in for extra power. Cinnamon, ginger, chili, nutmeg, thyme, rosemary, clove, cajeput, and oregano are all "hot" oils. Camphor, eucalyptus, peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen, and lemongrass are all "cool" oils. Cinnamon and pepperment are the strongest hot and cold EOs, respectively.
- 20 drops peppermint
- 10 drops ginger
- 10 drops cinnamon cassia
- 5 drops cinnamon bark
- 5 drops thyme
- 3 drops rosemary
- 7 drops clove
- 15 drops frankincense
- 5 drops camphor
- 7 drops eucalyptus
- 10 drops tea tree
Altering this recipe comes in handy for any allergies or sensitivities. Also, keep in mind this will be a potent mixture, so it's not recommended for use near any open wounds, mucous membranes, or eyes. Always wash hands before and after dipping into the jar, and keep out of reach of pets and kiddos.
Rub this blend (thoroughly) onto sore muscles, PMS belly, tired feet, bruises, or anything that needs a spicy and cooling blast of energy.
Do you use over the counter pain relief creams or ointments? How do my fellow DIY enthusiasts deal with aches and pains?
Photos by Darnell Scott