Before I left for Costa Rica with dreams of surfing real waves dancing in my imagination, I made a big jar of chili oil tiger balm. I was pretty sure I’d need it, and I was right. Surfing is hard work, especially when you yank your body out of winter semi-hibernation mode and toss it into the ocean with little to no warning. I was left with many sore muscles, and this tiger balm was downright fantastic.



I’d been eyeing New Direction’s chili seed essential oil for a while, and when the price dropped so 100mL (3.3 fl oz) was less than $5 I couldn’t resist anymore. The reviews made it sound like a magical (and only mildly torturous) healer of sore muscles, so I thought a batch of chili spiked tiger balm was just the thing to start with.

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I’ve dropped the amount of peppermint a bit to make room for the chili oil, but even so this balm feels cold on the skin, not hot. It’ll still leave red tiger stripes on your skin mere minutes after application, though.

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With the addition of the chili this tiger balm amps up circulation like you wouldn’t believe. Be sparing with your application—I have found myself near tears in my bathroom seconds after over-indulging!

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In the past I’ve had some troubles with my tiger balm, in that everything needs to be melted together, but you don’t want to heat up essential oils too hot, and especially not this many eye-watering ones. This time I figured out something new, and it makes pulling everything together a cinch.

I got these awesome little 15mL jars from New Directions Aromatics.

I got these awesome little 15mL jars from New Directions Aromatics.


Chili Oil Tiger Balm

5g | 0.17oz camphor essential oil
6g | 0.21oz cajeput essential oil
5g | 0.17oz menthol essential oil or menthol crystals
2g | 0.07oz cassia essential oil
4g | 0.14oz peppermint essential oil (USA / Canada)
4g | 0.14oz chili seed essential oil

26g | 0.92oz cocoa butter (USA / Canada)
26g | 0.92oz beeswax (USA / Canada)

Combine the essential oils in a class container. I used a 1 cup (250mL) Pyrex measuring cup (mostly for the spout), but a 125mL (4oz) or 250mL (8oz) mason jar will work as well. Place that container in a very hot water bath to gently warm the essential oils while you work. I’d recommend keeping the hot water bath hot on the stove top over low heat.

Combine the cocoa butter (USA / Canada) and beeswax in a small saucepan and melt over medium low heat.

Once the cocoa butter (USA / Canada) and beeswax have melted, remove the essential oils from their hot water bath and dry the outside of the container (be careful, it’s hot!). Pour the beeswax mixture directly into the essential oils, swirling and stirring to combine. You will likely have to pop the glass container back into the hot water bath to ensure everything melts together as the mixture sets up very quickly.

At this point you can either quickly decant the melted mixture into smaller glass jars (15mL (0.5oz) or 30mL (1oz) are both good sizes). If you aren’t planning on sharing, you can just leave the mixture to cool in your mason jar, and keep it in there. If you want to do that, I’d recommend using a 125mL/4oz mason jar. Due to the high essential oil concentration of this recipe, I don’t recommend using metal or plastic containers as the essential oils can eat away at those materials. The exact jars I used have been discontinued.

Looking for information on essential oil substitutions? Read this.

Wondering about essential oil concentrations? Read this.

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