Making Your Own Tiger Balm

Salve ingredientsAs a little girl I loved it when my parents would rub Vick’s Vapor Rub into my chest.  Eventhough my father claimed it was just a placebo, I still insisted he rub it over my congested chest.  I knew it worked, long before the advent of nicotine patches which blasted away the idea that topical medications were ineffective.

Later I graduated to Tiger Balm, especially the red version, redolent of cinnamon and resinous infused oils.  This worked not only on my chest, but also soothed sore muscles.  I also played with the oil versions of Tiger Balm and Po Sum On oil.  And while I prefer the absorption of oils for most muscle pain, there is much to be said for a salve that continuously leaks essential  oils through the skin.  The salve is also less likely to spill and easier to travel with.

The commercial Tiger Balm is made with petroleum jelly and paraffin wax to which essential oils are added.  Different formulations of Tiger Balm have the following essential oils:


Red – Extra Strength

White – Regular Strength

Liniment

Presentation

Balm

18 gram glass jar
(in carton)

Balm

18 gram glass jar
(in carton)

Oil

28 mL glass bottle
(in carton)

Composition

 

 

 

Camphor

11%

11%

9%

Cajuput Oil

7%

13%

7%

Menthol

10%

8%

10%

Clove Bud Oil

5%

1.5%

5%

Mint Oil

6%

16%

6%

Cassia Oil

5%

 0%

 0%

 

I have formulated a salve that lacks the petroleum jelly of commercial salves and can be customized with essential oils for a variety of  uses.  I use coconut oil as a base for its many healing effects and pleasant odor, hardened with beeswax.

To make your salve you will need a stainless steel pan, a wooden spoon, and some containers.  I like to use 2 oz or 4 oz tins or old body butter containers.  Determine how many ounces your containers can take, and adjust the weight of the coconut oil and beeswax accordingly, preserving the proportions.  For instance for three 2 oz containers (6 ounces) you will use 4 ounces of coconut oil and 2 ounces of beeswax.

I use a good virgin coconut oil from the health food store and organic beeswax.  While the beeswax may come in bars, it is easier to melt a shaved  or pelleted version.

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts coconut oil
  • 1 part beeswax
  • Essential oil of white camphor:  5 drops/ounce
  • Essential oil of peppermint: 5 drops/ounce
  • Essential oil of eucalyptus or lemon eucalyptus: 8 drops/ounce
  • Essential oil of cinnamon:  3 drops/ounce

Melt the beeswax and coconut oil over low heat in a stainless steel pan.  Do not burn the oil.  When melted, remove from heat, cool a bit and mix in the essential oils.  The essential oils are volatile and you don’t want to lose them.  Put the container in the refrigerator and it should harden in 15 minutes.  If too soft, remelt and add a little more beeswax.  If too hard (and keep in mind that coconut oil will liquify at 76 degrees) add a little more coconut oil.  If you remelt you may lose some of the punch of the essential oils, so you may need to add more.

Choose essential oils that are good for the condition you are treating.  For instance, if you have a child with asthma, you may elect to use an anti-inflammatory oil like German chamomile along with eucalyptus, clove, mint and camphor.  If you have arthritis that gets worse with cold, you may elect to warm it up with more cinnamon and frankincense.  If you have dry skin with an angry hot rash, you may want to add peppermint, German chamomile and calendula.  Other essential oils that can be useful include tea tree,  myrrh, rosemary and thyme.  You can also substitute infused oils like St. Johnswort, calendula, arnica or poplar bud for a third of the coconut oil.  Don’t be afraid to play with it to suit your family’s needs!

Tiger-balm-s
Tiger-balm-s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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