How to Make Evergreen-Scented Homemade Lip Balm

Our cabin is on the edge of the wilderness, nestled in an evergreen forest. In the spring and summer, the forest floor is covered in native medicinal plants and just outside my door there is an abundance of Arnica, uva-ursi, wild roses, and red root.

But the warm weather is long gone in these woods and winter time provides a stark contrast to the diversity of summer. The forest floor is now covered in snow. The woods are quiet. Shrubs like elder and chokecherry poke out from the snow, sometimes dripping in icicles or with a carefully balanced layer of snow on their branches.

It would be easy for me to whine and complain about the scarcity of plants during these frigid months (…in truth, I sometimes do). So instead, I try to mimic the plants and their slumber. Now is the time to slow down. This time of year also gives me the opportunity to revel in the gifts of the one medicinal plant group that continues to shine: evergreens.

Aptly named, evergreen trees retain their green needles throughout our winter. In my forest we have an abundance of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Both of these trees offer many gifts. Their wood keeps us warm through the winter and many trees from this property were used to build the cabin that we call home. Evergreen trees can also be used as medicine. When the tree is wounded, it exudes a thick resinous pitch which makes an antimicrobial and pain-relieving salve that is also reputably good for drawing out splinters.

Close up of a douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) branch with cones

In this recipe we are going to be using the green needles. High in vitamin C, they make a delicious fresh tea (I am partial to Douglas-fir tea) that is also a great stimulating expectorant for congested mucus in the lungs.

They also simply smell wonderful. Because of holiday wreaths or Christmas trees, you may equate the resinous balsam smell of conifers with the season. For me, it’s simply the smell of home and the forest that has surrounded me for the past decade. The festive homemade lip balm in today’s recipe is attempting to bottle up that heady scent so that you can slather your lips in it any time of year.

You can use practically any evergreen needles for this recipe, with a few cautions. While most evergreen needles are safe to use, the needles from the yew tree (Taxus spp.) are not. Be sure to know the identity of your needles to make sure they are safe. If you would like to use the needles from your Christmas tree or holiday wreath, check with your supplier to make sure the trees or boughs weren’t sprayed with any strange chemicals.

Evergreen Homemade Lip Balm

Nourish your lips with this festive holiday homemade lip balm. It will protect your lips from the harsh elements of winter while smelling like the rich and resinous boughs of an evergreen tree. For the carrier oil you can use jojoba oil, almond oil, grape seed oil, or apricot kernel oil.

What you’ll need…

  • 4 ounces carrier oil (measured by volume)
  • 1/2 cup chopped evergreen needles
  • 30 grams shea butter (roughly 1 ounce)
  • 45 grams beeswax (roughly 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 40 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)

    1. Place the carrier oil and evergreen needles into a double boiler (or a pot with a metal bowl sitting on top of it).
    2. Heat the ingredients until they are fairly warm to the touch. Turn off heat and let stand. Every couple of hours, re-heat the oil, and then let stand. Continue this for 24-48 hours. When the oil is finished it should smell like the the evergreen needles you are using.

    1. Strain off the evergreen needles from the oil using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Compost the needles.

    1. Place the shea butter and beeswax into a double boiler and melt until completely liquified. Add 3 ounces (by volume) of the evergreen infused oil. (If you don’t have enough infused oil then add more carrier oil.) Heat slowly until the butter and wax melts again completely. Remove from heat. Add the optional peppermint essential oil and stir.

    1. Immediately place the mixture into something with a spout (such as a glass measuring pan) and carefully pour the mixture into lip balm tubes or small glass jars.
    2. Let stand to cool.

  1. Label and enjoy.

These make a great gift! This recipe makes approximately 3/4 cup, which filled approximately 32 lip balm tubes.

Now we’d love to hear from you.

Are you planning on making your holiday gifts this year?

Have any other fun ideas for using evergreen needles?

Let us know in the comments below.

65 comments
  1. Wow! Thank you, Rosalee, for a super fun recipe and so unusual. I love the thought of pine needle tea also!!!

  2. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I had in mind to make lip balms as Christmas gifts! Was searching for inspiration for a scent/ingredients! Not sure if I can get a batch of needles here in Europe..Can I substitute with EO? What would be the ratio if I add EO`s?

    • You could use EOs for this but how much you use would depend on the specific EO as well as your preferences. It would take some playing around with.

  3. I would think that the peppermint would give it more of a peppermint smell rather than a pine/fir/spruce scent.

    • The aromatics of the evergreen needles comes through in the infused oil. If you want a purely evergreen scent you can omit the peppermint.

  4. What a fun recipe to try out anytime you want to be refreshed ! Gotta try the tea too . How long would you steep the tea for ? Thanks Rosalee !!

    • Anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on desired taste.

  5. Just so I don’t use the wrong needles, which kind would be best to use for this?

    • sorry-I re read the article. I have a concolor fir tree this year-would that work?

      • Yep!

  6. Just boil theneedles for tea or is there a special wzy to prepare the tea. Also, what about cedar bough tea? Any thoughts?

    • If you boil or simmer the needles it will have a stronger medicinal taste and may act as a stimulating expectorant, which unless you have a lot of mucous congestion, may result in you feeling dried out. I like to simply infuse the needles with hot water. Some herbalists prefer cool water in an overnight infusion.

      I’m not familiar with cedar bough tea.

  7. Thank you very much for this great recipe. I also made once last winter my own lip balm, around 20 pcs. It was only coconut oil, beeswax and lemon grass essential oil plus a few drops of vit E. So I am happy I have already some experience, this time I can try it again with the pine needles. I used to drink pine tea some years ago. Just boiled the needles in a pot of water and then drunk it. Not sure now if I would do it again :) I red it in some book when I was much younger. It was book about red Indians, it was said there, that red Indians drink this tea, it is full of vit c and lots of other vitamins and minerals.
    Thanks again for your inspiration.

  8. Hi,
    Is there a specific amount of pine needles to use?

    • The recipe calls for a 1/2 cup. Basically you want enough so that the oil barely covers the needles.

  9. I love this idea! I wonder if there are any issues with using ash juniper as we do not have pine or fir trees here? I would think that it would be best to use the female needles (especially this time of year) since so many of us are highly allergic to the pollen from the males? I’d love your thoughts. Thank you!

    • I’m not familiar with ash juniper but assume that it could be used similarly.

  10. I would love to make this. I am allergic to beeswax, is there something else I could use?

  11. Thank you for this amazing recipe! Happy Yuletide

  12. I love love love this recipe and am planning to use Torrey Pines…Much Gratitude for your sharing! <3

  13. Thank you for this great recipe! I have been collecting recipes that use pine as the mais ingredient – my house is also surrounded by these rather modest-looking but really generous trees :) I can’t wait to make this lip balm and, yes, it will be part of my homemade gifts!

  14. Rosalee, Always love your recipes and formulas, and that you so generously share them with us! ! My friend gave me some of her infused evergreen oils! This is a perfect project to use them! Thank you, dear heart!

    • Lovely to hear from you Frances! Enjoy your lip balm!

  15. I just heard about Starbuck’s new Juniper latte, and it uses a juniper syrup. Wondering if a syrup from pine needles would be easy to make to flavor coffee or anything? Def gonna try this lip balm recipe- thanks for your fabulous knowledge!

    • I’ve never used a pine syrup to flavor coffee but I’m sure it would work. Let us know if you try it.

  16. Can I make this with Redwood?

    • I’ve never done that but I don’t see why not. Enjoy!

  17. What would be the difference between using sap and using pine needle oil?

    • I’m guessing the sap would probably result in a stickier feel to the lip balm.

  18. Are there any evergreens that should be avoided? We have a lot of Sitka spruce where I live.

    • Yes, Kelly, you’ll want to avoid the Yew tree (Taxus spp.) and any treated trees, such as Christmas trees commercially purchased that could have been sprayed with chemicals for whatever reason.

  19. Do you think Italian Stone Pines would work as this is the species I have growing.

    • Yes, Melinda. Have fun!

  20. Haha, my turn to ask about my trees.

    1. I have mugo pine and white spruce & also blue spruce. Do any of these work?

    2. I know that when a spruce tree gets dry (think Christmas tree), it smells like cat urine…no kidding! Would I have to be concerned with the balm doing this as well?

    Thanks for the cool recipe. We made spruce bud sugar a few years ago. That was interesting.

    • You can use practically any evergreen needles for this recipe, with a few cautions. While most evergreen needles are safe to use, the needles from the yew tree (Taxus spp.) are not. Be sure to know the identity of your needles to make sure they are safe. If you would like to use the needles from your Christmas tree or holiday wreath, check with your supplier to make sure the trees or boughs weren’t sprayed with any strange chemicals.

      I have never heard of the cat urine smell! LOL I would probably dry the needles first and take a sniff. My guess is it is the bark that smells, not the needles. I wouldn’t take any chances, though!

  21. will be trying this recipe. .thank you so much for sharing this..
    I have a question a bit off topic…in the pictures you have the coolest pan with pour area.. Can I ask where you got it at? What brand? this is so neat..I want one..Is it stainless steel?
    Thank you..

    • I don’t know where Rosalee got her cool pan, but I got mine online at a “deal a day” type site called Woot. Mine is good quality stainless steel and has the same pour spout. WE LOVE IT!!!

    • I got it from Mountain Rose Herbs, they have two sizes and this one is the smallest. I LOVE it!

  22. Blessings and wellness to you and your family this holiday season..

    Hope to hear from you about the above question I posted..
    This will be the correct email address to respond too. .thank you so much..

  23. I’m looking forward to trying this. Four years ago I discovered making my own tea from Evergreen tea when I was out of all my loose tea. It just so happens I used one drop of peppermint essential oil in my preparation. It was delicious. I felt like I had a hot cup of Christmas in my hands.

    I’d like to know where to purchase empty lip balm tubes. Would you mind sharing this with us? Where did you buy yours?

    Thank you for everything you are doing!
    Dorothy

    • Hi Dorothy! You can buy lip balm tubes or tins at Mountain Rose Herbs. Have fun!

  24. Rosalee,
    I’m from South Africa, can the variant of our local pine tree’s also been used for the tea?
    If I can use it, how do you prepare your tea? Do you only use the fresh green needles or can you use it dry?

    Thank you

    Dirk De Beer

    • Avoid the yew tree (Taxus spp.) and any trees sprayed with chemicals.

      The fresh needles are high in vitamin C and are also a great stimulating expectorant for congested mucus in the lungs. It is a flexible tea. I’d start with a teaspoon of fresh needles per cup of water and 5 minutes of steep time. If you want a deeper flavor or more expectoration, you can increase the amount of fresh needles (up to a tablespoon) and the steep time (up to 20 minutes). Enjoy!

  25. Where do you get the lip balm tubes?

    • You may purchase lip balm tubes and tins at Mountain Rose Herbs. Enjoy!

  26. love all your recipes & can’t wait to try this one! a question for you & john… i like to cut & paste certain parts of the recipes and your comments into a Word file to print out & keep with my recipe card. Learning Herbs won’t allow this… the bkgrd comes out black obscuring the text. would you consider making the ability to do this possible? thanks!

  27. Rosalie, thank you so much for sharing this and other wonderful recipes! I grew up in the Northwest and now live in a deserty area, so miss the fir/pine/spruce so very much. I miss the scented air–Doug fir where I lived and Cedar where I played on lakes near the coast. I’m thrilled to be able to make a pine or fir infused oil from the trees in my back yard. Do you sense much difference from the scent of the different trees? I’m trying to decide whether to make some of each, or try a combination. Also, I make a nice lotion, and I’m assuming the pine infused carrier oil will work just fine (the recipe uses the same kinds of carrier oils as you suggested). Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • I am the experimenting type, so I highly encourage you to try a small batch of each evergreen you have and test them out. Enjoy!

      • Thank you so much, Karin! I’ve printed the recipe and will try it also! I’ve already started the lip balm, and the oil smells wonderful! Rosalie asked, if I remember right, about other things we’ve made with pine needles. This may not count, but I’ve made pine needle pillows using a heavy upholstery type of fabric (for comfort so the needles wont poke you), I cut it to be similar to a neck pillow, long and narrow–maybe 14 inches long, and 4 inches high. You fill the pillow with needles and sew it closed. You can move, “punch” or knead the pillow a tad to bring a rush of pine scent that is calming and restful while trying to sleep. I read about these in some old books that referred to some of the niceties the old settlers made for themselves in our country and Canada. I think they tended to make small square ones to put on their beds, but I did like the shape of mine.

    • Here’s a Google search for Yew tree Taxus spp (I chose “images”):
      https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrVk.OKOghcz0wADUwPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTB0NjZjZzZhBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=yew+tree+taxus+spp.&type=ANYS_A0GW4_ext_bsf&hspart=Lkry&hsimp=yhs-SF01&param1=ij7zzSxCeE_ZFQBL52KUQ7WaR0LBpmqEelLLfsTgjj5n1JN6tper26Vs1oR3uUIGECDSPgUfZ5Zp78AzRKvXnnLEyXqnaYEz1kjixQKJeonE2UrkoMsbnzbH-an5dEYk5CbN1vF-5vU-VS9_w5v5VeEjRmFeBtd8HtCgTDz1iVMq_oT2iffyRsb9c7Y2zphjYNkq6YVrRx_ycLLspW7G327mVg%2C%2C&ei=UTF-8&fr=yhs-Lkry-SF01

  28. Do you think dried peppermint would work if one were avoiding EO use?

    • You can omit the peppermint EO easily.

      If you are the experimenting type, like I am, I’d try it as a separate oil infusion and combined the two infused oils until you like the scent. Let us know how it turns out, Lori!

  29. I am so excited about making and sharing this recipe…thank you so very much. Would you share your recipe for making the tree sap salve y ou mentioned at the beginning..I would really like to make that a well and know I can trust y our recipes! Thanks again, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • It’s been awhile since I’ve made resin salve but it’s basically something like 1 cup of oil, 1 oz (by weight) of beeswax, and 2 oz (or so) of pine resin. You melt those together, pour into pots/tins. Hope that points you in the right direction, I’m sorry I don’t have a formal recipe written up at this time. I used to have an old video showing the process but I can’t find it.

  30. Rosalee, you are just too awesome!

  31. what would be a carrier oil?

    • In the recipe, Rosalee says:
      For the carrier oil you can use jojoba oil, almond oil, grape seed oil, or apricot kernel oil.

  32. Shouldn’t we be using less plastic in out lives, for the planet? Doesn’t the plastic leach into the balm? I like the recipe but not the packaging. I will be using a small tin. Do you have any reservations about tins?

    • Hello – I use a variety of containers for different people. Some folks really prefer the “standard” plastic lip balm tube. For other salves, I love round screw-top tins! The slide tins are often used for lip balm. The challenge is it can leak out of those pretty easily if it gets too warm and starts to melt. I also like tiny glass screw-top containers. The lids are usually plastic, but the product only touches the glass.

      Mountain Rose Herbs carries some of these containers.

      You can also try Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Google searches.

      I am curious about the newer versions of cardboard/paperboard lip balm tubes! I tried older versions a few years back and it was a dismal affair. I read in Instagram that people are liking these now, so I am curious again!

      Best wishes!

  33. Thank you…I missed that in the recipe

  34. Rosalie – I am excited to try this lip balm and will be using small tins to hold it as our world has way more plastic than it needs already! Would you consider adding this as an option to your page? Thanks for all you do to teach us about amazing herbs!

  35. Is it possible to warm the oils and needles in a slow cooker for 24-48 hours instead of on the stove?

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