“Embroctions or liniments are used in massage, with the herbs in a oil or alcohol base or a mixture of the two. Absorbed quickly through the skin, they can readily relieve muscle tension, pain, and inflammation, and speed the healing of injuries.”
Kitchen Medicine: Household Remedies for Common Ailments and Domestic Emergencies by Julie Bruton-Seal
Frankincense Liniment can also be rubbed over a swollen joint or muscle. To protect clothing, put a layer of shea butter or Frankincense Salve over the sticky resin.
I have been very frustrated trying to make Frankincense Liniment over the last few months. For my first attempt in making liniment, I tried using 40% alcohol (80 proof). Unfortunately, the alcohol wasn’t strong enough to crack the resin. The resulting liniment was of poor quality and didn’t work very well. I was very disappointed but not surprised.
Most herbalists recommend using 95% alcohol (190 proof) to crack any of the tree resins. Unfortunately, in British Columbia the Ministry of Morality has banned the sale 95% alcohol. I guess the BC government sees the citizens of BC as just too reckless to have such a powerful product available for sale.
My alcohol problem was solved by a busman’s holiday to Alberta. I don’t know if the Alberta government is wise or reckless but in Alberta, 95% alcohol is available for sale. So I stocked up with three bottles of Everclear which is enough 95% alcohol to produce liniment for years of household use.
I wanted to warn anyone that wants to make Frankincense Liniment or any remedy using tree resins about this problem. Unfortunately, you will need to make a trip to Alberta or the US to get an alcohol strong enough to crack resins. I’m angry that we must incur the inconvenience and cost of driving to Alberta or the US to get Everclear for making liniment but until the BC government lifts the ban on the sale of 95% alcohol we have no other choice.
On the left is unprocessed frankincense resin tears. On the right is the resin tears after six weeks in 95% alcohol. Any remaining resin can be processed into liniment by adding more alcohol and decanting the liniment after six weeks.
“Frankincense is especially suitable for conditions where the joints and muscles are very stiff, swollen, and painful. It is also often used topically more than myrrh.”
Chinese Herbal Medicines Comparisons and Characteristics by Yang Yifan
Frankincense Liniment or Tincture
1 part wildcrafted Frankincense resin
3-4 parts 95% alcohol (190 proof) Everclear
One more point about liniments. Many liniments are made with methanol which is not safe for internal use. As I have stated before, I do not put anything on my skin that I would not consider safe to ingest. So, this liniment is made with ethanol. It can be used internally. I have no personal experience using frankincense internally but thanks to the internet there is information available about the safe, internal use of frankincense for those people interested in that use.
Have caution when working with resins. Resins are messy and sticky. Use a glass container that will only be used for that type of resin or use a container that can be thrown away after use. It will be impossible to clean the glass container after cracking the resin. The cracked resin will stick to everything it touches and once the resin dries it will produce a very hard, varnish-like coating.
Once you have acquired some 95% alcohol, this liniment is very easy to make and is just like any other tincture. Put the frankincense resin in a glass container that will only be used for this resin or can be thrown out after use. Add the 95% alcohol to the frankincense and seal the jar with a lid. Label the jar as frankincense resin. Put the percentage of alcohol, today’s date, and the decanting date. Decanting day will be in six weeks. The jar will need to be stirred every day for at least the first week. Use a stirring stick that can be thrown out after use or carefully swirl the resin tears in the alcohol.
On decanting day, carefully pour off the liquid into a glass bottle. Use a glass bottle that can be discarded or reused for more liniment because the resin cannot be cleaned out of the bottle. (Reusing a Green Pastures’ glass bottle works well.) Likely, you will still have resin tears at the bottom of the glass container. Add more 95% alcohol and repeat the process.
Frankincense Liniment can be used in a number of ways. It can be dabbed on wounds as a disinfectant with a cotton swab. The resinous quality of frankincense makes the wound waterproof and acts like a medical adhesive and normally doesn’t need dressing. If a dressing is required, add a layer of shea butter* or Frankincense Salve after the alcohol has dissipated to avoid the wound sticking to the dressing.
The liniment can also be rubbed over a swollen joint or painful muscle. It is best applied after a hot bath or a hot compress. A cotton ball or folded piece of tissue paper works well for application to a larger skin area.** To protect clothing, put a layer of shea butter or Frankincense Salve over the sticky resin after the alcohol has dissipated. The waterproof quality of the resin will allow bathing between treatments. The pain relieve from this liniment can be felt almost immediately. Ice the area as normal.
For more information about frankincense please see:
Homemade Christmas: Frankincense Oil and Frankincense Salve
*I would highly recommend shea butter. I use shea butter in a number of homemade personal care products. Shea butter is especially good as a moisturizer for mature skin.
**Cotton balls or tissue paper covered in frankincense resin makes an excellent, sweet smelling fire starter.