- Marzena Abrahamik
I discovered marijuana-infused bath products on a hazy trip to Portland in 2016. Taking advantage of my first visit to a state where recreational marijuana is legal, I greedily snapped up every THC-endowed product my arms could carry: Marijuana gummies! Pot tea! Cannabis cupcakes! Weed honey! At the (now closed) Pur Roots Dispensary in Northeast Portland, my eyes settled on the bath and beauty products enclosed in a glass case.
"This has weed in it?" I asked the shopkeeper incredulously, pointing at a package of Empower Black Label Epsom bath salts. I love both leisurely bath time and marijuana's antianxiety effects—would it really be possible to combine the two?
"It does," she replied warmly.
I dropped my voice to a whisper. "Does it go in through the vagina?"
She stared back at me blankly. "It enters through your dermis," she said.
Turning to my husband, I added furtively, "It totally goes in through the vagina."
I wasn't very scientific when I tried my first dose of marijuana-infused bath salts. I gleefully dumped the entire package into a tubful of hot water, then settled in with a glass of cheap Malbec and my one-hitter. Within ten minutes I was drunk, high, and sweating profusely into the lavender-scented water. But I couldn't tell for sure whether it was the salts that had put me in such a great mood. Maybe it was the wine, the toking, or even the Cheetos I kept dropping into the tub.
Chicago's cold and seemingly endless winter made another warm weed bath appealing, and this time, I opted to make my own marijuana bath salts. Using a recipe adapted from the blog Cannabis Cheri (cannabischeri.com), run by medical marijuana patient and food professional Cheri Sicard, I whipped up a quick batch in the kitchen.
The bath salts are relatively simple to concoct: you just mix good old-fashioned Epsom salts with any weed-infused oil. To make the weed oil itself requires a few steps, but it's easy to master. First, I baked an eighth of an ounce of marijuana flower (bud) to activate its THC, the active ingredient in pot that gets you high. Cannabis Cheri recommends baking bud at 240 degrees for two hours.
Next, I mixed the baked bud with a half cup of grapeseed oil in the top half of a double boiler (or substitute a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water). You can also use coconut, olive, or any other food-grade oils (and then use the leftover oil to make brownies). Using a double boiler prevents the weed and oil from getting too hot and cooking all the THC out. The combination of baking and double boiling fully activates all the happy cannabinoids and infuses them into the oil.
After 45 minutes, I judged the bud was sufficiently infused, and strained the weed oil through a mesh sieve (cheesecloth also works) to remove the solids. Finally, I mixed the weed oil directly into the Epsom salts. You can get creative here—I added lavender and geranium essential oils for a fancy spalike fragrance, and even grated fresh ginger directly into the Epsom salts. To top it off, I added some dried Russian sage from my yard.
- Marzena Abrahamik
To better gauge the impact of the bath salts, I scheduled two more baths: one on Saturday with plain Epsom salts, and one on Sunday with the marijuana version. I vowed not to drink any booze or smoke any pot before or during either bath.
Saturday's bath was pleasant and cozy. I forced myself to remain in the tub for at least a half hour, until my fingers developed an extrapruny look.
On Sunday, I set the exact same atmosphere: one candle burning on the edge of the bathtub, the lights off to give the room a nice, dim lagoon vibe. I dumped two cups of homemade marijuana bath salts into the tub and stepped in. I'd forgotten that Epsom salts mixed with oil make the bathtub very slippery, and nearly cracked my head open in the process. But I recovered myself and nestled into the warm water, trying to relax.
Lying back, I watched pieces of Russian sage and grated ginger swirl among the oil clouds. The water appeared herby and pleasantly witchy. (My husband, who came in after my pit bull barged in and started slurping up the water, frankly deemed it "disgusting.") I inhaled deeply. The essential oils mixed with dank indica, a family of strains known for inducing a "body high"—aka "couch lock"—gave my bathroom an earthy scent.
As the minutes ticked by, I found myself more relaxed than I'd been during the previous day's bath. I felt a bit like a luxurious Exxon mermaid, given the oil slick permeating my skin. After about 20 minutes, I caught myself thinking about Girl Scout cookies.
"Am I high?," I asked myself. I couldn't decide.
After about 35 minutes, to ensure the continutity of my scientific experiment, I dragged myself begrudgingly out of the bathtub. I toweled off, and immediately headed down to the fridge to consume three string cheese sticks.
"It's the bath's fault," I explained to my husband through a mouthful of cheese.
But although I wanted to blame the bath for my surge of the munchies, I had to acknowledge that I wasn't really stoned. I did feel almost like I was floating, however. Light, yet grounded. Buoyant. So the bath seemed to have some additional relaxation benefits.
There's no solid science regarding most marijuana skin-care products (thanks, Big Pharma), so research on marijuana topicals like bath salts, oils, and body lotions remains scant. Most of the information available on the effects of marijuana skin-care products is anecdotal, although proponents of marijuana skin care claim that it has hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and possibly antibacterial effects. Experts have suggested that cannabis-infused products may help treat skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff but are quick to acknowledge that they don't have psychoactive effects. Despite this, some weed bath products carry warnings that females could experience a slight high owing to vaginal exposure.
Cannabis-derived bath products are available in Chicago, although they're usually made with CBD (i.e., cannibidiol, the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana) rather than THC. CBD is legal in most states, and may provide many of the same benefits of THC without the high. Cloud Vapor Lounge in Logan Square offers a CBD bath soak for $21 and a CBD body wash for $30. You can also purchase fizzy CBD bath bombs at the Bucktown, Andersonville, and Boystown locations of CBD Kratom (cbdkratomshops.com), where they come in a variety of CBD doses and range from $16 to $30. CBD bath products are readily found online as well, at sites like the CBD Boutique (thecbdboutique.com).
If you have a medical marijuana card, some dispensaries in Chicago do offer THC-infused topicals. Columbia Care Illinois sells a THC body oil for $24. A staff member told me customers can also buy RSO, or "Rick Simpson oil," an extremely potent marijuana oil (named for the Canadian weed activist who devised a simple extraction method), which some patients use to make bath bombs.
If you're looking to experience marijuana's most well-known effects, however, you're much better off smoking or ingesting the stuff. Judging from my experiment, a marijuana bath won't really get you stoned, and many would consider it an unfortunate waste of perfectly good weed. Might it be the best bath of your life regardless? I certainly relaxed, though it's difficult to tell whether that was due to the weed or simply a placebo effect.
I saved enough bath salts for one more try. This time I'll bring back the cheap wine and the one-hitter, and definitely the Cheetos. That should make it even better than my last soak. v