Mother Earth Living

How to Make Your Own Lotion, Lip Balm and Salve

Making your own lotion, lip balm and salve is fun and rewarding—and easier than you might think.
By Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols
October 2011 Web
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The Urban Farm Handbook is a comprehensive guide for city-dwellers on how to manage a busy, urban family life with home-grown foods, shared community efforts, and easy yet healthful practices. Authors Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols use stories, charts, grocery lists, recipes, and calendars to inform and instruct.
Photo Courtesy Skipstone
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The following is an excerpt from "The Urban Farm Handbook" by Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols (Skipstone, 2011). The excerpt is from Chapter 17: Soaps and Other Sundries. 

Lotions, Salves, and Balms 

Making your own lotions and salves is fun and rewarding. They make thoughtful gifts and can be infused with flowers or healing herbs from your own garden.

Either make your own infused oils (see above) or purchase essential oils to add at the end of the mixing process. They are all lovely: Citrus and mint scents are uplifting, whereas lavender and geranium are calming. My favorite plants for infusing are chamomile, comfrey, and calendula, with their soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. At the height of the gardening and canning season, I soothe my hands with chamomile and comfrey lotion and apply peppermint lotion to cool my hot, aching feet.

While it is possible to mix your lotion with a regular blender or food processor, an immersion blender makes it a cinch. I use a recycled quart yogurt container for both mixing and storing, eliminating a lot of clean-up work.

Making lotion is essentially the same process as making mayonnaise: suspending tiny particles of oil in water. The beeswax or emulsifying wax helps stabilize the mixture and prevent separation. You can use any kind of oil, or combine various types. Distilled water will give you the longest shelf life; plain filtered or tap water work too, but your cream or lotion will develop surface mold sooner. Keeping it refrigerated also helps extend shelf life.

Basic Lotion Recipe 

Here’s a basic formula for a nice, thick lotion. The choice of individual ingredients is up to you, but stick with these ratios and you’ll get good results. This makes great handmade gifts when poured into half-pint jelly jars. Decorate them with raffia and flowers or sprigs of greenery from your garden.

Equipment 

A double boiler of some kind (this can consist of a large glass measuring cup sitting in a water bath, or a smaller saucepan that fits into a larger one)
Scale
Immersion blender
3 ounces solid oil (coconut oil, cocoa butter, or shea butter)
6 ounces liquid oil (olive oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, including infused oils)
1 1/2 ounce beeswax, shaved or grated, or emulsifying wax pellets, or a combination of the two*
8 ounces distilled water
essential oil (optional)

1. Combine solid oil, liquid oil, and beeswax in top of double boiler. Over medium heat, stir until oils and wax are melted and thoroughly blended.

2. Remove top saucepan or cup, and let cool to body temperature, stirring occasionally to keep oil and wax mixture smooth.

3. When oils have cooled, warm distilled water to body temperature. Pour water into a tall container, and, with immersion blender set to Low, slowly add oil to water in a thin stream. After a few minutes of mixing, a cream will begin to form. Initially it will look like milk curdling, but a little more mixing will produce a nice, smooth lotion.

4. Add essential oil, if using, a few drops at a time until it’s scented as much as you like. Feel free to divide lotion into a few bowls and scent each one differently.

*Substituting emulsifying wax for some of the beeswax helps make the lotion more stable.

Salves and Lip Balms 

Salves and lip balms are even simpler than lotions and creams, because you don’t add water. Simply melt wax and liquid oils together in a water bath, add essential oil if you like, and pour the mixture into a convenient container—recycled breath mint tins work perfectly.

Adjust the hardness of your salve to suit you:
› 4 parts oil to 1 part wax = medium soft (my favorite consistency)
› 3 parts oil to 1 part wax = medium hard
› 2 parts oil to 1 part wax = very hard

Salves make wonderful additions to your medicine chest. Menthol and eucalyptus (the active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub) are great for breaking through foggy congestion, while plantain makes a soothing balm for bug bites and rashes.

For lip balm, recycle your lip balm tubes, and choose good-tasting oils or extracts like peppermint or vanilla. To recycle lip balm tubes, simply wash empty tubes in warm, soapy water and let dry completely, then pour the melted salve solution in. Mixture will harden as it cools.


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Post a comment below.

 

Amir
11/9/2013 9:31:35 PM
Thank you for your recipe but what i want to ask you the oil Phase is more than water Phase so how you can add Oil to water? it must be add water to OIL griffin calculator's Hope get your reply..

Amir
11/9/2013 9:12:34 PM
Thank you for your recipe but what i want to ask you the oil Phase is more than water Phase so how you can add Oil to water? it must be add water to OIL griffin calculator's Hope get your reply..

Amir
11/9/2013 9:12:31 PM
Thank you for your recipe but what i want to ask you the oil Phase is more than water Phase so how you can add Oil to water? it must be add water to OIL griffin calculator's Hope get your reply..

NAZ
10/18/2013 1:48:51 AM
Thanks Kelli!!! As an Aromatherapist with a little experience of making some natural body care products - I totally AGREE with everything that you have said (NEED to use a preservative if using water in a recipe! etc!) :O):o):o) It's very rewarding making your own natural products but like you have said initially it is often a case of trial and error! Good Luck everyone and have FUN ;O)X x

Kelli
10/16/2013 5:20:55 PM
Just some advice and/or formulating tips: Since this recipe has water you will need to use a broad spectrum preservative. Essential oils, no matter which ones or whatever amount, are not preservatives and you will end up putting a biology experiment all over your skin. Beeswax is not an emulsifier. It is a wax. It will not produce a stable emulsion on its own. You can use the beeswax/borax combination but getting the amounts right is very tricky. Make your first batch small. 8 oz or approx. 226 grams. You can find a conversion calculator on Ingredients to Die For at the top right of the page where it says Calculators. Then click Ingredients (Formula)Percentage Calculator. They also have a Formulary section and you can get some basic ideas from there. Just change the oils/butters to what you like. I would recommend E-Wax NF or Polawax NF for beginners. They both produce very stable emulsions. The general rule of thumb is to add up all of the ingredients in your "oil phase" and then use 25% of that for the emulsifier. So if you add all your oils and butters and thickeners and the total is 20% then divide by 4 (or 25% of 20) and you get 5% E-Wax NF. You can use whatever butters and oils you like. If you use more butters, especially hard butters, your final end product will be much thicker like a cream. More Oils than butter and you will have more of a lotion consistency. I hope this helps anyone who would like to make their own products and are just beginning. I have been formulating for almost 4 years and it is trial and error at first. Again if there is one thing I cannot stress enough is.......use a broad spectrum preservative for any product you make that contains water. Even an all oil (anhydrous) product should have a preservative if it will come in contact with water. (example: sugar scrub in the shower) Good Luck!!

Kelli
10/16/2013 5:16:39 PM
Just some advice and/or formulating tips: Since this recipe has water you will need to use a broad spectrum preservative. Essential oils, no matter which ones or whatever amount, are not preservatives and you will end up putting a biology experiment all over your skin. Beeswax is not an emulsifier. It is a wax. It will not produce a stable emulsion on its own. You can use the beeswax/borax combination but getting the amounts right is very tricky. Make your first batch small. 8 oz or approx. 226 grams. You can find a conversion calculator on Ingredients to Die For at the top right of the page where it says Calculators. Then click Ingredients (Formula)Percentage Calculator. They also have a Formulary section and you can get some basic ideas from there. Just change the oils/butters to what you like. I would recommend E-Wax NF or Polawax NF for beginners. They both produce very stable emulsions. The general rule of thumb is to add up all of the ingredients in your "oil phase" and then use 25% of that for the emulsifier. So if you add all your oils and butters and thickeners and the total is 20% then divide by 4 (or 25% of 20) and you get 5% E-Wax NF. You can use whatever butters and oils you like. If you use more butters, especially hard butters, your final end product will be much thicker like a cream. More Oils than butter and you will have more of a lotion consistency. I hope this helps anyone who would like to make their own products and are just beginning. I have been formulating for almost 4 years and it is trial and error at first. Again if there is one thing I cannot stress enough is.......use a broad spectrum preservative for any product you make that contains water. Even an all oil (anhydrous) product should have a preservative if it will come in contact with water. (example: sugar scrub in the shower) Good Luck!!

Jennifer Monk
4/5/2013 3:07:46 AM
Basic lotion recipe!

Jessica Tobin
1/26/2013 7:24:12 PM
With these measurements of each ingredient in ounces, how much does the final product yield? Is this recipe suitable for lotion bottles with pump tops or is it more like a body butter that has to be in a jar? Can you mix different oils together in the same category as long as you stick to the proportions? For example, can I mix sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, grape seed oil, and vitamin E oil for the liquids and shea butter, mango butter, and coconut oil for the solids?

babette
1/26/2013 7:23:32 PM
With these measurements of each ingredient in ounces, how much does the final product yield? Is this recipe suitable for lotion bottles with pump tops or is it more like a body butter that has to be in a jar? Can you mix different oils together in the same category as long as you stick to the proportions? For example, can I mix sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, grape seed oil, and vitamin E oil for the liquids and shea butter, mango butter, and coconut oil for the solids?








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