Make Your Own Lotion Bars

Reader Contribution by Claire E
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Since my last post, I’ve worked more on my grandmothers’ Christmas presents, and I think I’ve figured out what they’re getting. Therefore, if you’re my grandmother, stop reading now. This time, I mean it.

Having always been fascinated by the many uses of herbs and essential oils, I wanted to give skincare products as gifts this year. I recently read something about hard lotion, which I had never heard of. It’s just like regular lotion, only it contains beeswax so it’s solid at room temperature. Beeswax also seals moisturizing ingredients into the skin when the lotion is applied.

I decided to make a hard lotion to moisturize feet for my grandmothers. To the simple recipe I got off a website, I added cocoa butter and a variety of oils. I’d wanted to include rosemary oil, an antimicrobial, but since we didn’t have any, I used rosemary extract instead.

I found that making the lotion was surprisingly fun. I prepared a double boiler and added my ingredients. First came the beeswax, which had arrived in miniscule pearls. When I opened the bag, the resinous sweet scent of honey wafted out.

Next I added the soft coconut oil and shea butter, which came out with no problem. The cocoa butter, however, was a different story. My first impression of it had been: porous cement. I attacked it with the teaspoon and did manage to get enough out by scraping the top off flake by flake.

I sniffed each essential oil before adding it. The power of the tea tree, the sweetness of the spearmint and the spicy peppermint blended nicely into a minty perfume. When all the ingredients were mixed, I used a dropper to transfer the liquid into square silicone molds which we’d gone to great lengths to obtain for this purpose. After the lotion set, both my mother and I tried it. The collective verdict: greasy. If we tried to walk with the stuff on our feet, we skidded all over the place.

Despite the greasiness, I thought the lotion bar was an excellent moisturizer — for a while I was using it twice a day, and it even helped my dry knuckles. It also had a lovely mint aroma. Because of this, I think it will make a good present, and I hope my grandmothers like it. If you’d like to try it too, I’ve included the recipe.

Tea Tree-Mint Hard LotionI made a few tweaks to my original recipe, in particular increasing the amount of beeswax so the lotion would be harder. This is the revised version. It makes about a half cup of lotion; the number of bars depends on the mold you use.
•         3.25 T beeswax
•         2 T shea butter
•         2 T coconut oil
•         1/2 T coconut oil
•         ¼ T jojoba oil
•         ¼ T castor oil
•         16 drops tea tree oil
•         10 drops peppermint essential oil
•         5 drops spearmint essential oil
•         3 drops rosemary essential oil (rosemary extract will do in a pinch)

Prepare a double boiler. (If you don’t have one, you can make one by filling a pot with water and placing a smaller one inside it–but you can’t let water get into the smaller pot.) Turn the stove on to Medium. Add the ingredients in the order listed, stirring occasionally with a wooden skewer. Use a dropper to transfer to molds (I especially like silicone baking molds because the bars pop right out). Immediately wash all equipment.

You can read more of Claire E.’s homesteading adventures on The Happy Homesteader blog pages.

Photo by Wendy, Claire’s mom.