DIY Hot and Cold Sore Muscle Rub

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.
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!

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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

6 Responses
    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.

    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. 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.

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