Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Largely Local Lip Balm

We're rather interested in anything we can make for ourselves these days.  And the more local the better!  If you're not aware, we're participating in The Dark Days Challenge, a group of bloggers writing about the challenges of eating local food through the winter.  If you follow us on Facebook, we're sharing links for everything from making dog biscuits to Christmas decorations to bath and beauty products!  It's interesting to contemplate just how self-sufficient we could be - supplying most of the ingredients ourselves!

We're working on bringing a little boy goat here shortly, so that we will have our three little goatlings pregnant for the spring and will be milking by April.  We hope to provide ourselves with milk, cheese and butter, and to add to our farm income by making and selling goat milk soap and creams!  I use goat milk soaps now, which are fantastic for my somewhat sensitive, dry skin.  Selling milk and milk products is way out of our means, involving regulations galore and investment in a commercial grade kitchen and equipment. In the quiet days of winter, I'd like to get started on trying some products.  Stay tuned for an easy entry into soapmaking!  I remembered a great little recipe for lip balm in one of my favorite magazines, The Herb Quarterly,  in the Summer 2010 issue.  The recipe is by Janice Cox, whose excellent book Natural Beauty At Home I've owned for a while.  With cold weather here to stay, lip balm is something we'll be using regularly!

The basic recipe in the magazine calls for 1 tsp. coconut oil, 1 tsp almond oil and 1/2 tsp. grated beeswax.  You simply microwave the ingredients on low for in short bursts for a total of one to two minutes, mix well and pour into little jars or tubes.  Little pots and tubes are easy to access at craft stores, or online at eBay and the many websites for DIY soap/body product makers.  I tried a batch of this last week using local canola oil, and it is quite nice, but light.  I didn't even think to take pictures, just got motivated one afternoon to make it after I ran across some beautiful, local beeswax from Hive on the Hill at a craft market!  I think I was a little light on the beeswax, got to pack it a bit after grating.  We've got coconut oil here, which we've been experimenting with for cooking and baking because of its health benefits.

I decided on trying a batch with Manitoba Harvest hemp oil, which we use regularly in our smoothies because of it's high level of essential fatty acids; it's local, organic and has some great skin benefits (I'm using a lotion from Manitoba's Hemp Lady right now)!  Because hemp oil has a very low boiling point, I melted the coconut oil and beeswax first, in ten second increments, stirring between blasts, until it was liquid, than added the hemp oil for another twenty seconds.  Total microwaving was about sixty seconds!  I stirred well, than poured into little waiting pots.  I like this balm much better: it's richer and more emollient.  Because of the hemp, it is a lovely green shade, but that doesn't show up on the lips.  It does smell and taste a wee bit 'grassy', but I don't mind that!  Now, I'm wondering what local product could replace the coconut oil, but that's a tough one!  Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, which makes it great for balms, and it has it's own skin benefits.  Maybe a vegetable shortening, although everything in the stores has soy or cottonseed or something not even slightly local.  More research is definitely required!  I've also been thinking about natural colors: I've read about dehydrating beets and carrots and grinding them to powders to add color.  I'm wondering if that would make the balm more prone to spoiling, again more research is required.  I've also got some strawberry 'leather' here that I made this summer but it does have the seeds in it; it might give flavor and color but again, might spoil!  But, I've got all winter to work on it!  Have you ever made your own balms or lotions?  I'd love to hear about it - please leave a comment!


  1. What a fantastic new venture. Goat's milk in skin products is one of my favourites. My sensitive skin gets even worse in the winter cold and too dry inside conditions so I'm forever looking for products to help it. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  2. Hmm, after considering different options, how about hydrogenated canola? You need a hard oil. It's difficult to source that locally. That was the best I could come up with...