Sorry Burt, it’s over between us!

A.K.A Home Made Lip Balm

My lip balm vs. Burt's Beeswax. I think mine's mo bettuh.
My lip balm vs. Burt’s Beeswax. I think mine’s mo bettuh.

This is my blog, created to regale you with tales of my RVing adventures. So, “what does lip balm have to do with RVing?” you ask. Everything… nothing. Depends on your point of view. For me, RVing means going to beautiful places in nature. Sometimes it’s cold and windy up in the mountains and my lips tend to get dry and chapped. Sometimes it’s hot and dry in the desert and, well, my lips tend to get dry and chapped. Either way, I’m a lip balm-aholic. I never leave home without it.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to put petrochemicals or other icky stuff on my lips and many commercial lip balms have all kinds of ingredients I can’t pronounce and would rather avoid. Many of them have menthol or peppermint that makes my lips burn. On top of that, the stuff can be pricey. A recent web search for Burt’s Beeswax Lip Balm, the stuff I’d been using, unearthed prices well over $3.00 a tube in many cases. The net weight of those little tubes (pretty much regardless of brand) is .15 oz. It would take nearly 107 tubes of the stuff to add up to a pound. If you multiply $3.00 times 107 in order to find out how much commercial lip balm costs per pound, well, its $321.00! Holy crap! Admittedly, to use 107 containers of lip balm might require something akin to a lifetime, but still, $321 a pound!?! I don’t really think of it in terms of pounds, though, but I do get a little crazy every time I need a tube of the stuff and have to fork out three bucks or more for a small fraction of an ounce.

The most basic recipe for lip balm that I found called for coconut oil and beeswax. That's all, and it made really nice lip balm. I also used Vitamin E in some of my recipes. That's shaved beeswax in the bag. I should have put the tubes in the photo with the other lip balm making tools. So sue me.
The most basic recipe for lip balm that I found called for coconut oil and beeswax. That’s all, and it made really nice lip balm. I also used Vitamin E in some of my recipes. That’s shaved beeswax in the bag. I should have put the tubes in the photo with the other lip balm making tools. So sue me.

My innately thrifty side (read cheap) inspired me to Giggle a little info on making my own lip balm. No, that’s not a typo. I like to say Giggle or Goggle instead of Google. Try it. It’s fun 🙂 What I found is that making homemade lip balm is pretty easy and inexpensive. One problem is, however, that if you don’t already have the ingredients the cost to purchase them will set you back enough to pay for 6 or 8 tubes of the commercial stuff. Once you get rolling though, the cost per tube is a small fraction of the store bought variety, and you can make it softer or firmer, moister or dryer to suit your preference.

There are all kinds of recipes you can easily find with a quick Goggle. I chose to try the simplest one I found: two parts coconut oil to one part beeswax, by volume. The Whole Foods near me sells beeswax in bulk. At $20 a pound it’s not cheap compared to other places where it can be had for as little as $7 a pound or so, but Whole Foods was convenient and I didn’t have to buy a whole pound. I bought 2 ounces for a few bucks. It was available in bulk, shaved, so I scooped up a little bit and put it into a little plastic bag. So far I’ve made about 20 tubes of lip balm and still have about half of the beeswax remaining. I also found a 14 oz. jar of virgin organic coconut oil for something like $6. There’s probably enough of the stuff in that jar to make 85 tubes of lip balm. When it comes to the tubes, I found a number of suppliers. I bought mine online. I think I paid about $8 for 25 tubes, delivered. There may be better deals and as you’d expect they are cheaper in larger quantities. You can get all kinds of tube and cap colors. You can even find ink-jet printable labels if you want to brand your lip balm. Here is a link to lip balm containers on Amazon . Here’s one to beeswax.

My first attempt at making my own lip balm was a success. I packed a tablespoon measure with beeswax shavings and put it into a pyrex measuring cup. Then I packed two tablespoons of the coconut oil and put them in with the beeswax. (Both are solid at room temp.) I placed the pyrex cup into a shallow pot with a couple inches of water in it, brought it to a boil and then waited for the ingredients to melt, stirring them occasionally. I’ve heard you can melt the stuff in the microwave on a low setting, but I thought I’d have better control with the stove top method.

The instructions that came with the tubes said to avoid temperatures over 120º, so when everything was melted I removed the pyrex jar from the pot and set it on the counter to cool a little bit. While I had a thermometer I didn’t really have enough melted lip balm in which to submerge it for a really good reading. So, I waited a minute or two then began to pour.

Making lip balm: tools of the trade
These are the essential tools for making lip balm. Actually, you can get by without the funnel. You might also want something with which to stir the ingredients as they heat, a small spoon perhaps, but you may be able to get  by without that just by swirling the mixture around in the cup. You’ll also want containers in which to put your finished lip balm. Tubes and tins are popular options.

It can be tricky to fill a little lip balm tube without spilling or knocking it over. In order to prevent the latter I rubber banded several tubes together. Some folks use little funnels to help in filling the tubes. They also make special trays to hold the tubes if you’re making a larger quantity. Apparently, making the stuff as party favors is popular. Who knew? I’d learned that the mixture would contract as it cooled and that I’d have to top off the tubes if I wanted them full once solidified. So, I filled the tubes maybe 4/5 of the way and waited a few minutes. I could see the stuff solidifying and dimpling at the top. I poured more mixture into the tubes to top them off. It doesn’t take long for the lip balm to cool down and solidify enough to say it’s done. I think 30 minutes is probably sufficient.

The quantity of ingredients I used, one tablespoon of beeswax and two tablespoons of coconut oil, made 6 tubes of lip balm. The proportions of beeswax and coconut oil I used made for a moist and creamy lip balm. It was a little soft for my tastes, especially when I kept it in my pocket and it got warm. Later, I made a several more batches with slightly greater proportions of beeswax to coconut oil in order to make firmer balms. One batch was a little too firm for me, but one seemed just right. I experimented by adding vanilla extract for flavor, a couple drops for each tube, but I’m not sure it mixed well with the other ingredients, nor did it overpower the beeswax enough to be really noticeable. Various recipes on the web suggest different kinds of scents, colorings, flavorings as well as different butters, oils and even vitamins. I put 400 IU of Vitamin E for each tube of balm into some of my recipes because it has an anti-oxidant value and may hydrate and soothe lips. I just punctured a capsule for each tube and squeezed its contents into the pyrex cup with everything else. 6 capsules for the proportions of wax and oil given above.

Used topically, both coconut oil and vitamin E oil have a small SPF factor. Vitamin E oil also has antioxidant properties and is anti-inflammatory. I’ve read that it has preservative properties but further reading indicates it does not, so that aspect of vitamin E oil seems an area on controversy. Two articles I looked at, while making opposing statements about the preservative value of vitamin E oil, agreed that in oil-based products it acts as an antioxidant that discourages rancidity that may extend shelf life. Well, if it extends shelf life why then would it not be considered a preservative? Beats me. With that in mind, realize that nothing keeps forever, so, making smaller batches may be better than making larger ones and storing the ingredients in the fridge may add longevity. I tried storing some of the finished lip balm in the fridge but after removing it a few weeks later it seemed to be much softer than when it was first refrigerated. Not sure why. Maybe it had something to do with the Vitamin E or vanilla. Maybe not. Dunno.

My own observations about the lip balms I’ve made so far are that recipes with higher proportions of coconut oil feel more moist and creamy going on, but the recipes with lower proportions of coconut oil seem to last longer on my lips. The recipes with more coconut oil have more of a tendency to become too soft when they get warm such as they do when kept in a pocket that is in close contact with one’s body.

So far, of the recipes I’ve tried I think the one prefer is 1 part beeswax to 2 parts coconut oil by weight, not volume, plus about 400 IU of vitamin E per tube. Bear in mind that I keep my lip balm in my pocket where it gets warm and makes it a little softer than it would be at room temperatures. If you’d like to start experimenting with that ratio but don’t have a scale that can accurately measure small quantities then you can try 1 tablespoon of beeswax to 3 1/4 teaspoons of coconut oil. That should be pretty close. (I weighed a tablespoon of beeswax at 7.5 grams and a tablespoon of coconut oil at 14 grams. A teaspoon is 1/3 of a tablespoon.)

The stuff I made contains nothing artificial. Some of the recipes I made seem to work just as well for me as the commercial and sometimes ickily (is too a word!) chemical laden varieties, at a small fraction of the cost. Plus, there’s the added satisfaction of “sticking it to the man” Yeah, go suck it corporate America! LOL.

Like I said… it’s over between us, Burt!

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