Making lipbalm: one way to avoid doing schoolwork

Cappings from honey box ready to be melted into wax for lip balm

Cappings from honey box ready to be melted into wax for lip balm

A box of honey has been spun and the cappings have been melted into a sunny yellow disc. With the school year looming, I am desperate to spend these last few days enjoying summer projects before the first steps into the school building erase these ten glorious weeks of summer.

Or maybe I am just stalling on getting into school planning.

Lip balm is on the agenda. A new batch of beeswax and a recent delivery of Shea butter, lip balm tubes, and new essential oil fragrances have me raring to go.  I ordered my stuff from

Lip balm mise en scene

Lip balm mise en scene

Two years ago, the last time I did this, I forgot to write down what I did. I’m not making that mistake again.

Here’s what I used:

2 oz. beeswax
4 oz. Shea butter
 5 oz. almond carrier oil 
 5 drops Vitamin E 
20 drops essential oil

In a double boiler, melt all the ingredients except the essential oil. Once it is melted, add the essential oil. For this batch I used 8 drops of spearmint and 12 drops of rosemary.
Quickly, before the mixture cools and begins to solidify, use a plastic pipette to fill lip balm tubes. I have a holder that accommodates 50 lip balm tubes. I can’t imagine trying to fill those little tubes without it!

The purple thingy holds 50 lip balm tubes in place.  Plastic pipettes enable me to fill them without making a globby mess.

The purple thingy holds 50 lip balm tubes in place. Plastic pipettes enable me to fill them without making a globby mess.

Once the mixture has cooled, put the caps on. Label the tubes before making the next batch!

This  first batch filled 50 lip balm tubes with a little left over.

The next batch filled 10 larger tubes. I used 4 drops lemongrass, 12 drops lavender, and 4 drops patchouli. Also a pipette of honey.

A note about fragrance:  fragrances are blended according to top notes, middle notes, and base notes.  Like a musical chord.  Top notes come on strong and evaporate quickly.  (Like sopranos.) Middle notes emerge next and last longer. (A shout-out to altos.)  Base notes anchor the chord.  (Yeah, guys!)  There is music and chemistry in blending fragrances.

Fragrance charts are really helpful with this.

The great thing about the lip balm is that it isn’t just for lips. It’s a great treat for tired teacher feet. I bought some larger push up tubes for rolling the stuff on my feet at night.  The lavender is a great fragrance for going to sleep but, before adding the fragrance, I poured two tubes unscented so Mr. BeeMan could treat his icky feet without smelling like a girl!
It’s also great on cuticles, rough elbows, and to smooth eyebrows.  (Mr. BeeMan doesn’t care about his cuticles, but–hmmm–I could attack his eyebrows.)

After the balm is made, labels are needed.  Once upon a time, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find labels the right size for the tubes.  One can buy cute lip balm labels but they are expensive.  I just wanted something I could pick up at Office Depot and print from the computer.  A friendly Office Depot worker suggested that I buy 8 x 11″ labels and cut to size.  That way I could be a creative as I wanted with the labels.  Well, duh, what a great idea.

Of course, my labels are creatively cut into squares.

I spend some computer time tweaking the labels. Then I print, cut, and have a lovely meditative time sticking the labels onto the tubes.  That’s when John points out an editing error.  You got it…after the labels are on the tubes. 

Free tube of lip balm (either size) to the first person to point out the editing error.  John doesn't count--he already got his.

Free tube of lip balm (either size) to the first person to point out the editing error. John doesn’t count–he already got his.

Lastly, shrink-wrap!

Lastly, shrink wrap!

Lastly, shrink wrap!

There are a few reasons why I put on shrink-wrap.

Tip: hold tube in place with a pencil eraser.  The tube won't blow across the kitchen and you won't burn your finger.

Tip: hold tube in place with a pencil eraser. The tube won’t blow across the kitchen and you won’t burn your finger.

  • It’s fun to watch the hairdryer shrink the wrapper to the tube.
  • It keeps the lip balm from gooping up the label, which is just paper.
  • I know which tubes are unopened!  This is kind of important when gifting.
  • It makes the product look official, instead of something I concocted in the kitchen (which I did).

Now that I’ve warmed up to school with the honey harvest-lip balm making activities in math, chemistry, music, art, and writing, I should get to work on my French I planning.  Oh no, that is going to involve new technology.  A rant will probably be posted soon!



Lip balm

Lip balm ingredients

Making lip balm is one project I’ve been wanting to do with our beeswax.   It is relatively easy and foolproof.  The success of a lip balm has more to do with preference than with messing up a recipe.  (This reminds me of a time when I made chocolate truffles as Christmas gifts.  The raspberry truffle would not set, so it didn’t work as a rolled truffle, but it was great as a topping on ice cream!)  So, hard or soft, the ingredients in lip balm will still keep the chapped lips away.

There are many recipes out there for lip balm but most have three basic ingredients: a wax, a butter, and an oil.  Fragrance is optional, but fragrance comes in an oil anyway.  I had the beeswax.  I ordered two butters online from natural cocoa butter and processed shea butter.  I bought almond oil and apricot kernel oil at the health food section of the grocery store.  I also bought (from believe it or not 100 lip balm tubes, shrink wrappers, and a cool (but necessary!) holder for filling the tubes.

I chose a formula calling for 1 part wax, 2 parts butter, and 1 part oil.  To make 8 oz. of lip balm (which filled 80 tubes), I used the following:

2 oz. beeswax (weighed on a kitchen scale)

4 oz. cocoa butter or shea butter (also weighed on a kitchen scale)

3 tablespoons of oil (apricot kernel oil with the cocoa butter, peppermint infused almond oil with the shea butter)

Lip balm tubes ready for filling

In a double boiler, I melted the wax (broken into little bits), then added the butter in small pieces.  When that was all melted, I stirred in the oil.  Working fairly quickly, I poured the liquid into a pyrex measuring cup with a spout, wiped out the double boiler with a paper towel, and then poured the liquid into individual lip balm tubes.

As the liquid cooled it solidified in the measuring cup, so I microwaved the cup 10 seconds at a time just to melt it again for quick pour.  Some people do the entire process with the microwave, but there are enough warnings about microwave explosions to keep me cautious!

Lip balm tubes being filled

From there it was a simple matter of capping the tubes, slapping on a label, and blow-drying the shrink wrap onto the tube.  Ok, to be perfectly honest, the label project took longer than making the lip  balm.  After handwriting labels for the first batch and finding it to be both tedious and aesthetically displeasing,  I resorted to the computer.  Using some Avery address labels and the Avery design and print website, I came up with my little label design. But it took me ALL evening.  At least it’s done and saved for future projects.
And the shrink wrap?  It was kind of fun using the blow-dryer and seeing the sleeves shrink and wrap the tubes, but the dryer also blows the little tubes all the way across the room.  It was a little tricky holding each tube without frying my fingers.

The labels

 So…I have two flavors.  The first (with the icky handwritten labels) is “Cocoa” because it was made with cocoa butter and smells chocolatey.  The second one is called “Maybe Mint” because the peppermint infused oil was not as pepperminty as I would have hoped and you can maybe tell that there is mint in it.  The shea butter is unscented so there really is no discernible fragrance.  Both balms are firm like Chapstick.  The advantage is that they have a long staying power and won’t make John look like he’s wearing lipgloss.  I think I would prefer a slightly softer version that glides a little easier.  Next batch I will use more oil.  Julie is going to remain faithful to her Vaseline, so I’m not too concerned with her opinion. : )  I would, however, appreciate comments and opinions from the rest of you once you’ve tried it.