Fresh Family Meals Made for Everyday Life

DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub

Recipe At-A-Glance
Home Remedy40 minutes
If your muscles are feeling a little tight post-workout, or you are otherwise dealing with some mild aches, this DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub is here to help!
DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub in a labeled round metal tin. In the background are red pepper flakes and bottles of essential oils.

Share this post:

I’ve reached that age where it seems like every few weeks, I have some sort of new ache or pain. My body just isn’t quite as resilient as it used to be. I used to be able to sleep almost anywhere, but now it seems like a 15-minute nap on the couch makes me ache for three days!

My arsenal for when my body is feeling cranky? Hot baths, a hot water bottle, and this sore muscle rub! I made this a few months back for the first time, and the subtle heating-and-cooling power of it (combined with some gentle massaging) really seems to help most minor aches fade away.

DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub spread on a woman's forearm. The tin of balm and bottles of essential oils are in the background.

If you’ve never made a medicinal salve before, the process is really a breeze—nothing to be intimidated by here! It’s basically only two steps: (1) infuse the oil with the medicinal herbs and (2) turn the oil into a balm by melting in beeswax.

Here, we’re infusing the oil with a classic pain management herb, cayenne. Cayenne brings heat to the skin and helps to alleviate aches and pains. Of course, any medicinal product using cayenne should be used with caution—it’s spicy! So avoid getting it near your eyes or other…ahem…delicate areas. Always make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after making and using this sore muscle rub.

Glass bowl set over a saucepan. The bowl is filled with oil and red pepper flakes.

The cayenne, plus the addition of clove and cinnamon essential oils, are the “hot” part of the name of this muscle rub. For the cold part, we use eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils. I also added lavender essential oil because lavender is a good all-around herb for what ails ya, including aches and pains.

Ingredients for DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub arranged on a grey counter - oil, essential oils, red pepper flakes, and essential oils.

If you live in a location where CBD oil is legal, the power of this salve greatly increases by adding a hefty dose of CBD oil to the mixture before cooling. In my area, it’s a lot more affordable to make my own CBD salves instead of buying them!

DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub being poured into a round metal tin.

The recipe below makes a single two ounce tin’s worth of the salve, but this recipe easily multiplies if you want to mix this up for gifts. Enjoy!


DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub in a labeled round metal tin. In the background are red pepper flakes and bottles of essential oils.

DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub

Yield: 2 ounces
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

If your muscles are feeling a little tight post-workout, or you are otherwise dealing with some mild aches, this DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub is here to help!


  • 1/4 cup sweet almond oil or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne (red pepper) flakes
  • 1 tablespoons beeswax pellets
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 drops cinnamon essential oil
  • 5 drops clove essential oil
  • Screw-top metal tin or small jar (2 ounces)
  • Labels (print them here)


  1. Heat the oil in a double boiler over low heat. Add in the red pepper flakes and continue to heat over very low heat for 30 minutes—or until the oil turns slightly red tinted and smells spicy.
  2. Drain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Discard the red pepper flakes, and return the oil to the double-boiler.
  3. Add in the beeswax pellets and heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add in the essential oils, and then transfer to glass jars or tins and immediately cover. Let cool completely and label. Store in a cool dark place.
  4. To use: Rub into sore muscles liberally. Because of the cayenne, you’ll want to avoid using it on delicate areas or near eyes and make sure to wash your hands well after use.


  • To make a less effective, but still useful, rub that won’t burn your eyes, just leave out the cayenne. The essential oils on their own in a salve will go a long way towards helping!
  • This makes for a medium-thick salve (think: the consistency of a stick of lip balm). You can always test the consistency of a homemade salve by placing one tablespoon of the hot salve on a plate in the freezer for a minute until firm. Check for consistency. If too goopy, add in a bit more beeswax; if too solid, more oil.
  • There is no preservative in this salve, so store it in a cool dark spot, where it will keep for at least three months. To extend the shelf life to up to a year, add in 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil.
  • To boost the pain-relieving properties, you can add 100mg of CBD oil to the final salve (when you add the essential oils).


Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

21 Responses
  1. Di

    Hi….I loved this recipe and though I had no cinnamon or clove oils, I added a cinnamon stick and some cloves to the cayenne oil. My two testers said they get some relief from arthritis and hip pain, but didn’t really feel the heat. To be fair, I did a 60/40 of cayenne oil and arnica infused oil.
    I’ve just now made a stronger cayenne oil…again with cloves and this time some ginger. I’d still like to incorporate some arnica infused oil, but I’m wondering if adding some magnesium oil and also some camphor oil might be ok.I’d have to play with the amounts I suppose, but I don’t want to lose the hot cold integrity of the salve.
    Am I wanting too much in it…can these things actually be combined. I’ve done some research but I can’t find anything that is truly helpful. Both my testers have hip problems and lower back pain perfect testers I thought. I have used it myself across my lower back after a day in the garden and found it soothing.
    One of my testers is 90, the other 65 and I am 70. I’m not sure if that makes a difference but thought I’d throw it in there. I’d be grateful for your opinion.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Di! We haven’t tried it with those ingredients, so we aren’t sure what the amounts would be or what it might do to the hot/cold integrity. If you give it a try, please let us know how it turns out!

  2. Aly

    Made it and it smelled delicious. However, I didn’t have eucalyptus on hand and tried tea tree (didn’t work) and I didn’t feel the heating sensation either. Tips on using a double boiler would be very helpful as I don’t think I infused the red pepper flakes properly but I let them infused for more than 30 minutes. Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Aly! The primary thing you need to know about using a double boiler is to keep the water in the bottom pot or pan at a simmer. You want to use slow and low, gentle heat to melt or infuse ingredients in a double boiler.

      Some folks have a dedicated piece of kitchen equipment for this task, but you can easily make your own. Use a pot or saucepan filled with about an inch of water on the bottom, with a glass or metal heat-proof bowl on top. Or you can even use a skillet with a paper towel in the bottom and an inch of hot water, then place a metal heat-proof bowl on the paper towel. If you’re a visual learner, here’s a double boiler video that will help!

  3. Joi Espelund

    I have used Cayenne to make a pain-relieving salve before. Though fairly effective the red color stained my skin and clothes. Right now I have a bunch of hot peppers – some green, some red – so think I’ll try your recipe with a less colorful pepper. Love this recipe, so am anxious to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your info and experience.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Rybkah! We haven’t tried it ourselves, but we don’t see why it wouldn’t work. It won’t be nearly as potent, but it won’t do any harm. Let us know how it turns out for you if you give it a go!

  4. Joe

    Is it better to use cayenne essential oil instead of flakes? What would be the difference and the main reason to select the one over the other?

  5. Jan

    Hi, could I use chopped up birds eye peppers 🌶 instead? We’ve got a shrub full of them! I can’t wait to try your recipe! Thankyou :))

    1. Cassie Johnston

      I’ve only used cayenne here, but I think you would get a similar effect from any chile. I would recommend checking in with a trained herbalist though to be sure before using it on your skin.

    1. Julie Grice

      I’m sorry, we don’t know exactly what to do for oily skin. We do have a few face masks you could look into, though, if you think that might help.

    1. Cassie Johnston

      You can, although you probably won’t be able to filter it out, so the final product will be gritty/grainy with cayenne pepper.

Meet Cassie
Meet Your Host

Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

Learn More About Me →

Skip to Recipe
Close up of the finished cake on a cake stand with orange glaze and sugared cranberries on top.

No-Stress Holiday Cooking, Simplified!

Tips, recipes and time-saving secrets to magical holiday meals