The increasing interest in CBD has also led to an increased use of the words balm, salve, and lotion/cream. These words are often used interchangeably, although there is a debatable difference. Balms, salves, and lotions are all types of topical application, typically of a medicine or an herbal remedy. CBD topicals are generally applied to the skin for fast acting pain relief and treatment of skin conditions. CBD can also be taken orally in the form of oil or edibles, although the effects can be different.
Though balms, salves, and lotions function nearly the same, they do have differences. Balms and salves are both made from oils and wax, but balms have a much higher ratio of wax to oil than salves. This makes balms firmer and more difficult to spread, which is good for alleviating sore muscles and aches. Salves are a little softer, but still firmer than lotions and creams. They have a higher ratio of oil to wax. Balms also tend to sit on the skin and salves absorb into the skin, which affect the skin differently. Balms and salves act as vehicles for CBD, and because they have little to no water content, they have a much longer shelf life. In contrast, creams and lotions have a significant water content and tend to have essential oils, scents, or other ingredients in addition to the CBD. They also have a shorter shelf life, but do not act as just a vehicle for CBD; they act as a lotion as well as a CBD vehicle.
Balms, salves, and lotions are ideal for quick, more focused impacts on a smaller part of the body. CBD oil, taken orally, has a full body effect, though it is slower and can have less of an impact if in lower concentrations. Although topicals are put on the skin, they can penetrate deep into the skin, alleviating joint and muscle pains.