Imagine stepping into a tub full of steaming hot water, sinking in to maximize your relaxation. As you soak, you start to feel euphoric, full of bliss, and...high. But is that actually possible?
In Colorado, where pot is legal and we clearly care about self-care (Colorado ranks in the top-ten in Google searches for that term over the past five years), it is. Maybe you’ve seen bath products while shopping for flower or edibles at the dispensary and wondered whether indulging was worth your time and money. Maybe you're just finding out about them now.
Either way, we’re here to guide you through our three favorite local cannabis-infused bath items and how to properly use them.
How does it work?
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, maintaining a barrier between the cells that comprise you and the outside world. But that barrier isn’t an impenetrable force field — it’s more like a series of overlapping fences, or layers, that substances can penetrate. Beneath those layers of skin, your circulatory system, the body’s ultimate cannabinoid delivery mechanism, flows constantly.
If you’ve used a topical patch or enjoyed infused massage oil, then you’re already familiar with the sensations of a cannabath, which are typically described as more of a “body high” than intensely psychoactive. These cannabath products magnify the already-relaxing effects of soaking in a hot bath by adding cannabis essential oil to the bath in one form or another.
When cannabis essential oil touches your skin, you’ll absorb some of it through a passive diffusion process that scientists call “percutaneous absorption.” It’s not the most efficient method of delivering substances or chemicals into your bloodstream, but if the oil on your skin is sufficiently concentrated and your skin is in a ready state of absorption, the THC and CBD in the oil will make their way into your bloodstream.
“In developing a cannabis product, one of the main challenges is to stabilize the cannabinoids in the product while also making the cannabinoids available to the body during consumption, whether that is a topical or an edible,” explains Jay Dennison, director of science for infused-product brand Dixie. Unlike with edibles, “in a topical product, such as a bath soak, the main obstacle is absorption and bioavailability, not stability. To increase absorption, we include essential oils to act as carriers of the cannabinoids.”
This is why hot water is so important during your bath, as it relaxes the pores in your skin, which in turn helps your body soak up more of the active ingredients. Still, be careful to dip your toes in slowly! Make sure you’re familiar with how a cannabath makes you feel and how it affects your body before you bring a joint or microbrew into the mix while soaking.
For beginners: Coda Signature Symphony Cannabis Infused Bath Bombs
15 milligrams THC and 15 milligrams CBD per bath bomb (three per package)
We paid: $30 before taxes
The Coda Symphony bath bombs come in three different mixes of fragrances and essential oils, all of which include cannabis: Calm (cedarwood, lavender, sweet marjoram and benzoin), Balance (rose geranium, patchouli and lavender), and Uplift (grapefruit, bergamot, sweet marjoram, black pepper and rosemary). The bombs themselves are comparable to products you’d find at a high-end bath store, turning the water silky-smooth and delicious-smelling.
“There’s great attention to detail that goes into all Coda Signature products, and we pride ourselves on the commitment to producing an astounding product to deliver a wondrous experience every time,” says Tamar Rascon, Coda Signature manager of topicals. The bombs are made from sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), citric acid and blends of essential oils, including extracted cannabis oil; they also include real flower petals.
The controlled dosage and ease of use make these a perfect entry-level bath product, as the 15 milligrams of THC and CBD per bath bomb is a good jumping-off point for newbie canna-bathers looking for a new self-care experience.
For a super-simple soak: Mary Jane’s Medicinals Heavenly Hash Bath
80 milligrams THC and 30 milligrams CBD per bag
We paid: $16.20 before taxes
This hash bath comes in a tea bag that’s quite potent and very low-fuss — you drop it in the tub and let the infusion work its magic. The bag is a cloth sachet containing Dead Sea salts, cannabis essential oil and herbs. As the sachet soaks in the tub, the salts dissolve, and the herbs and oils infuse your bath. The longer you leave it in the water, the stronger the effects will be. The first time will be the most intense, but you can dry out the bag and reuse it for further use.
Bathers who have plant, pollen or seasonal allergies or asthma are advised to be careful using the Heavenly Hash Bath, as there have been some allergic reactions that resemble an asthma attack. (I have both seasonal allergies and asthma, and I’ve used the Heavenly Hash Bath multiple times with no ill effects.)
“We say side effects include tingling, mild euphoria and a sense that world peace is possible — it’s that good!” explains Mary Jane’s owner Dahlia Mertens. “The Heavenly Hash Bath will promote relaxation, relieve stress and hypertension, soothe aching muscles and joints, relieve cramps and promote sleep.”
For bath (and weed) enthusiasts: Dixie Synergy Soak
100 milligrams THC and 100 milligrams CBD per container
We paid: $24 before taxes
Some bath enthusiasts like to customize their soak to suit their needs — and their moods. For those canna-bathers, the Dixie Synergy Soak is the best local option available. The soak includes Epsom salts, sea salts, bentonite clay and cannabis essential oil; it comes in a 100-milligram jar, and you can use the cap as a guide to figure out how much soak is enough for you.
“One loosely packed capful is about 15 grams, which will deliver 5 milligrams of THC and 5 milligrams of CBD,” adds Dennison. A heaping capful is about 20 grams, which delivers about 7 milligrams of THC and 7 milligrams of CBD.
“We only use CO2-extracted oil, which is one of the cleanest and greenest extraction methods on the market today, and we triple-lab-test all our products to ensure accurate dosing and reliable results,” Dennison says.
Their work has paid off: This product is wonderfully flexible and forgiving. You can add additional salts, throw in a bath bomb or mix in other essential oils, and it will all blend in smoothly with the Synergy Soak. And it’s the cannabath product with the highest levels of THC/CBD available (getting a lot of high for your buck, if we may), if that’s important to you.
How to draw the perfect cannabath
Hot water will help release the active ingredients while encouraging your skin to absorb the good stuff. Make it as hot as you can stand; it’s a lot easier to cool down a too-hot bath than to heat up a lukewarm tub of water.
Soak for some time
The longer you’re in the tub, the more time your body will have to enjoy the experience — and the better you’ll feel when you get out. Try to aim for at least thirty minutes, but closer to a full hour is even better.
Add some extras
Bath culture is kind of a thing now, and if you’re going to be in the tub for a good amount of time, you may as well fancy up that water. Add more epsom or sea salts for sore muscles, essential oils (lavender and tea tree are always good in a bath) for aromatherapy, bath bombs and so on to customize the experience to your liking.
If you’ve never taken a cannabath before, you might be surprised by the intoxicating effects; you’ll likely feel euphoric and floaty in the tub, but if you overdo things, getting out might be a struggle. Start with small doses of your bath products at first — especially if you’re also consuming in the tub — so you have a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Many of these products contain salts in addition to cannabis. If you add more salt to the bath, you can wind up dehydrated faster than you’d imagine. Make sure you have some drinking water (not just beer, because that will ultimately make you more dehydrated) nearby to guzzle while in the tub and after you get out.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.