DIY warming muscle rub with cayenne pepper


One of my favourite salves to date, this simple muscle rub uses the analgesic properties of cayenne pepper to ease sore muscles, insect bites, achy joints and even nerve pain. It’s quick and simple to make, warm and soothing to apply, and has a lovely, unique colour.

Here’s my recipe.


  • 160 ml cayenne pepper infused olive oil
  • 20 grams of beeswax
  • 9 drops of eucalyptus oil (this is optional based on age – please see safety note for more details)
  • Tin cans for storage

This recipe is sufficient for 6 x 30 grams (or 1 oz) tins or 3 x 60 gram (or 2 oz) tins.


This recipe is sufficient for 9 x 1oz tins (or similar). Alternatively, you can make whatever quantity you like using a ratio of 8 parts oil to 1 part beeswax.


  1. To infuse oil, add cayenne pepper to a jar and top with oil. I usally use roughly five times more oil than pepper. Secure the jar with an airtight lid.
  2. For the sun infused method, place in the sun for two to six weeks, stirring once or twice a day or as often as you remember. Or for the heat method, place in a pan of boiling water to create a bain-marie (you could also use a double-boiler if you want to be fancy!) However, if you do use the heat method, be sure not to let the oil get too hot. Cayenne pepper can be quite sensitive to heat so it’s best not to let it simmer for too long. Instead alternate between heating for 15 minutes and letting stand with the heat off for 15 minutes. Then stir and repeat until the oil has taken on the colour and roma you’re looking for.
  3. Once it’s ready (it should be a beautiful deep red/brown colour), strain off the cayenne pepper using cheesecloth or similar fabric and store the oil in a clean jar.
  4. Now it’s time to add the beeswax. Simply add the required amount to the jar and return to the bain marie until the beeswax has melted.
  5. Add drops of eucalyptus oil if you’ve decided to use it
  6. Test consistency by taking a spoonful of the mixture and placing in the freezer. If it’s too hard for your liking, add more oil. If it’s too soft, add more beeswax. And repeat.
  7. Pour out into your tins and allow to set.

Voila you have your very own homemade muscle rub!

A note on the safety of Eucalyptus oil and children

While the recipe above has been created using a dilution of <0.25%, many experts believe that eucalyptus oil should be avoided completely in children under ten years of age. So make sure you do your research and if you do decide to use eucalyptus essential oil, keep it to a minimum and never apply to a child’s face or nose.

Medicinal properties

Both cayenne pepper and eucalyptus have been used as medicine for hundreds of years and have been shown to have analgesic properties.

Cayenne pepper: Long used by native Americans in food and medicine, capsaicam (the ingredient that makes cayenne pepper spicy) is now popular in ointments and creams across the US and Europe to relieve pain from arthritis and shingles. Research shows capsaicam works by first stimulating, then decreasing the amount pain signals in the body. As such it has been shown to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, joint or muscle pain from fibromyalgia or other causes, nerve pain from shingles and other painful skin conditions, pain after surgery (such as a mastectomy or an amputation), pain from nerve damage in the feet or legs from diabetes, and lower back pain.

Eucalyptus oil: Long used in Aboriginal Australia to treat wounds and fungal infections, recent research suggests eucalyptus oil also has a analgesic effect, with a study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation concluding that “Eucalyptamint, produced significant physiologic responses that may be beneficial for pain relief and/or useful to athletes as a passive form of warm-up.”

Where to find ingredients

If you’re in the US or Canada, you can find all the supplies you need including tins from Mountain Rose Herbs. For the rest of us, there are plenty of great suppliers to be found at Etsy and Amazon.

What’s your home remedy for sore muscles and joints? We would love to heard about it in the comments section below.



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