Homemade Tiger Oil AKA Tiger Balm

Need pain relief in a hurry? Try this pain relief oil to help soothe those tired, achy muscles and joints.

Stooping over to weed the garden. Cleaning out the chicken coop. Planting, harvesting, canning. All these things can lead to muscle pain. Severe muscle pain. When you pull a muscle or overwork it, you want relief.

Tiger pain oil

I love Tiger Balm liniment and always have. It has a cool, refreshing “zing” to it, and it has always helped with minor aches and pains or headaches of all sorts.

The $6 price tag for a tiny jar was never a big issue, as a little bit goes a long way. It’s smooth, creamy and easy to apply. It works where it hurts, basically.

I often wondered if I could make it myself. And, lo and behold, I have something that I feel works just as well, and is easy to whip up an entire batch!

Muscle soreness, stiffness, and pain due to over-activity may all be soothed with this oil. Its only natural herbal ingredients are easily found or grown.

arnica flowers

What is Tiger Balm?

Tiger balm is a topical cream that has been used topically for more than 150 years (so its makers claim) to relieve pain and discomfort. You can use tiger balm for taking care of everything from insect bites to arthritis pain and muscle aches.

Available as a salve or ointment, you can find this stiff in most well-stocked drugstores or online, or even better, make your own DIY tiger balm with the recipe we will share below!

What Ingredients are in Authentic Tiger Balm?

While the exact recipe for tiger balm is a closely guarded secret, we do know that there are four ingredients are what give it its unique (and potent!) smell and pain-relieving properties.

It contains a blend of camphor oil, menthol crystals, cajuput oil and clove oils along with other ingredients.

Camphor oil is the main active ingredient in tiger balm and works by numbing the skin, which is why it is often used to relieve pain from muscle aches, arthritis and even headaches.

Cajuput oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, while menthol crystals create a cooling sensation when applied topically, making it ideal for soothing insect bites or minor burns.

Finally, clove oil contains eugenol, a natural pain reliever.

All of these ingredients work together to create a wonderfully soothing balm that is both effective and mostly natural.

Homemade Tiger Balm Recipe

This essential oil blend smells amazing, and they all have pain relieving properties. When combined with carrier oils, they create a rub that reduces inflammation and may help in reducing pain.

Jojoba oil is used in this recipe as it may have anti-inflammatory properties. Emu oil is also well known for anti-inflammatory properties, and is often used for many skin conditions.

Ingredients needed:

  • 1/2 ounce emu oil
  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 5 drops Clove Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • 10 drops camphor oil
  • 5 grams dried arnica

Put it all together:

  1. Add the arnica and olive oil to an oven safe bowl and place in a 200 °F (93 °C) oven for 2 hours to infuse.
  2. Strain the herbs and toss, saving the oil.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before proceeding to the next step.
  4. Add all the oils in a small bottle and shake together gently to combine.

How to Use Your Tiger Balm

Tiger balm can be applied liberally to the affected area as needed for pain relief. For muscle aches, applying before bed and then covering with a warm towel or heating pad will help you get some restful sleep.

For arthritis pain, apply in the morning and evening to help reduce inflammation and ease pain throughout the day. And, for headaches, apply to temples and back of neck.

When using any new product on your skin, it is always best to do a patch test first to make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. Sometimes, serious irritation can occur, even when using totally natural ingredients!

Simply apply a small amount to a patch of unaffected skin and wait 24 hours to see if there is any bad reaction. If there is, discontinue use and wash the area with soap and water. If there is no reaction, you should be good to go!

Storing Your Homemade Tiger Balm

Store your mix in a glass jar or other glass container, preferably, but plastic is okay too though it will not keep quite as long.

Do try to store it out of direct sunlight. Will be good for up to 3 months, but toss if you notice any signs of mold or other spoilage.

What types of pain do you deal with on a regular basis? Will you try this pain relief oil for treating pain?

pain relief oil pin

33 thoughts on “Homemade Tiger Oil AKA Tiger Balm”

  1. Amy @Home & Farm Sense

    I need to try this – we have a son who gets terrible leg pains when its cold. I also happen to have all these ingredients on hand. Thanks for figuring out the recipe…:)

    Happy New Year!!

    1. You could substitute castor oil for the emu. It’s supposed to help with pain and helps penetrate the skin better. HTH

  2. Have you tried substituting Copaiba or Idaho Balsam Fir for the Lavender? I have to avoid lavender products but this recipe sounds great!!

  3. This will come in handy for good friend who has joint pain in damp/cold weather.. Thanks for sharing. Someone mentioned emu oil recently. Will have to hie off to the health food store asap and get busy making some. thanks again.

  4. I am just going to have to buy some beeswax and carrier oils! So many of these wonderful homemade salves, creams, etc., call for beeswax. I’m slowly stocking up on Essentials Oils finally and need all the supplies! Definately gonna try this!

  5. this is so awesome, I buy this all the time and being able to make my own def is something I would love to do. Gonna have to do this as a summer project.

    1. Heather Harris

      no, the idea that your hands can transfer germs into the mixture, or air may get into the mixture. In the case of roller balls, you still get a bit of dead skin on the ball, and that may go into the bottle as well. Gross to think about, I know, but it’s reality.

  6. Hi, this sounds great, but i dont have emu oil or arnica, can i use dandilion instead of arnica? What should i use instead of emu oil?

    1. you can use dandelion oil for both if you would like. The emu oil is just amazing by itself for relieving minor pain. But the dandelion oil will be just fine, too

  7. Had to check this out because we’ve used Tiger Balm often enough. Absolutely love the idea of using my dandelion oil! Can hardly wait for Spring to make more. Thank you!

  8. Darlene O’Neil

    Can you use trauma oil instead of the arnica oil . I hate making infused oils. I wish I could buy them already uncut. But I have trams oil and calendula oil. Can I use either one of those for the arnica oil?

    1. Trauma oil has arnica, calendula and St. John’s wort infused in it. Trauma oil stains clothing so it may not be ideal for all situations.

  9. It says that this formulation uses jojoba oil as well as cajeput, menthol crystals, and camphor oil. I see the camphor essential oil but nowhere else in the entire post.
    Also where do you source arnica?

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