How to Make Lip Balm with Cottonwood

Here we are in snowy winter. It’s cold outside, and our lips are feeling it. Have yours been chapped or sore in the past weeks? Well, we have a solution for you…simple cottonwood lip balm. Let’s learn how to make lip balm.


This is a perfect herbal lesson for this time of year, not only because our final product will be so relieving for our lips, but also because this is a perfect time to harvest cottonwood buds. These sticky, resinous, beautiful smelling buds are best harvested when they’re still slightly frozen and thus less sticky for our fingers. If you have been wondering how to make lip balm, cottonwood is an ideal choice.

Cottonwood trees (Populus spp.) are self-pruning and so it is often possible to find branches below cottonwood trees that have buds in perfect shape for harvesting.

We do recommend harvesting from down branches or fallen trees, since buds on living trees are all set to unfurl into beautiful heart-shaped cottonwood leaves.

Here in Washington we’ve had some huge winter windstorms and there are lots of tree branches down just about everywhere you look, so harvesting has been easy.

How to Make Lip Balm

The first step in making lip balm is infusing your gathered cottonwood buds in almond oil. Almond oil is lighter than olive oil and we find we like it better for making lip balm, but the process of infusing the oil is the same. When learning how to make lip balm, almond oil is a great oil to use.

Once you’ve strained your cottonwood oil, heat 1 cup of it in a double boiler (or saucepan over low heat) with 2 ounces of beeswax until the beeswax is fully melted.

Pour into lip balm tubes or tins and watch it solidify. This happens within minutes of pouring.

The almond oil is moisturizing and cottonwood is antiseptic, pain relieving and will reduce inflammation, so it this oil will work nicely to heal our winter-sore lips. When I first was learning how to make lip balm, I tried cottonwood and loved it!

The beeswax will provide a light barrier and help seal in the moisturizing oil.

Time to go out and pick some buds (before they open in the spring)!

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