Every week I spend a couple of hours with my young friend Tova Rose. We explore the plant world together, making herbal remedies, reading stories and playing games.
Tova recently turned 10 and I wanted to give her something special for her birthday. I’d already given her every book I could find for kids involving herbs, including many coloring books. We’d already made salves and syrups … what to do?
Finally, with the brainstorming of friends, I was given a great idea. A lotion bar kit!
Homemade lotion bars are firm bars that can be rubbed onto the skin like lotion. They are great for dry cracked skin (like the knuckles or heels). A friend told me she specifically uses them to moisturize her cuticles and fingernail beds.
Making lotion bars is fairly easy too, a lot like salves in fact, and just involves different proportions of wax to oil. I’ve since made a handful of batches and each time I’ve used slightly different ingredients. Here’s my favorite mix so far.
The lotion bars themselves are great gifts and even the giving of a lotion bar kit makes a wonderful holiday present as well.
Homemade Lotion Bars
The following recipe makes about 7 (1-ounce) bars
What you’ll need…
- 3 ounces beeswax
- 1 1/2 ounces cocoa butter
- 1 1/2 ounces shea butter
- 3 ounces carrier oil or herbal infused oil
- molds or tins
- essential oils (optional)
Measure out the wax and butters by weight. Begin by melting the beeswax, cocoa butter and shea butter. I use a saucepan exclusively for salve making for this (I got it at the thrift store for $2!). You want to heat this on as low heat as possible. Some people even use a double boiler. Stir frequently to avoid burning the wax and butters (I use jumbo popsicle sticks to stir).
Once the wax and butters are melted, you are going to add the oil. This is measured by volume and can be any carrier oil. I personally like jojoba or grape seed oil. Both of these oils are “dry” oils, meaning they absorb into the skin readily. Rose hip seed oils is also lovely. Olive oil can be used, but it will have a more oily feeling to it.
To make this extra special, you can infuse the oil with herbs. I chose calendula for mine. If you’ve never infused an oil before, you can learn how in the Herbal Basics course on HerbMentor. You can also use an oil that hasn’t been infused with herbs.
When the oil is added to the melted materials, the wax and butters may harden a bit.
Keep stirring with the heat on low until the mixture is completely melted. Oils will go rancid more quickly when exposed to too much heat, so limit the amount of heat on the actual oils as much as possible.
When everything is melted, you can add your optional essential oils.
Lastly, pour the mixture into molds or tin containers.
Not sure whether to use a mold or a container?
The plus side of molds is that you can buy these silicone molds in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Once the lotion bars have cooled, it’s really easy to remove them from the mold. You could also try using muffin baking sheet (warning: I haven’t done this). I would grease the tins with coconut oil before pour the mixture into the baking sheet.
The tins offer more protection to the bar and could be carried in purses, etc. If using tins, make sure they have a flat side so that when the lotion bar solidifies, it can easily slip out. And if there is a curled lip at the rim, you’ll have a hard time getting it out! If you live in a hot environment, I strongly suggest using a tin for lotion bars.
When these are completely cooled, you can pop them out of the mold or tin and put them to use.
Keep these homemade lotion bars in a cool place. If they get too hot, they will melt again. If you are giving them as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient to keep them in a cool place.
These make great gifts! In the picture below, I’ve wrapped the lotion bar in a cello bag (along with a list of all the ingredients).