Life lessons from making lip balm? Really? Yep. Bear with me a minute. The first time I made homemade lip balm, it came out perfect! But I made it all in little lip pots and hubby wanted a tube he could carry in his pocket and not have to apply it with his finger. The lip balm itself was really great stuff with Frankincense and peppermint.
Being the dutiful wife that I am – HEY! stop laughing – I got some lip balm tubes and endeavored to make some just for my dear hubby. It was great…except there were some little “patches” for lack of a better description, of grainy/gritty balm. It was just little spots of grainy/grit, the rest of the pot/tube was creamy smooth. It kind of worked to gently exfoliate your lips. Buuuut, that was not exactly the product I was going for.
So I did some research (hey, learning!) and read that when using raw shea butter, if you don’t get it up to melting temp long enough, it can get grainy/gritty. Not the whole batch mind you, just little pockets of grainy. That was my first lesson. When you make your own products, you deal with batches that don’t come out exactly as expected, even when you do everything (or think you have) according to the directions, or just like you did before. Ever had bread or a cake not turn out just right? Not bad, just not the perfection you were seeking? Yeah, it’s like that.
Moving along to the most recent batch of lip balm I made. This time, we had run completely out. It was on the “to do list” each weekend, but I just didn’t seem to get done. Hubby grabbed a tube of some generic lip balm I had just gotten from a health/benefits fair as a freebie. He handed it to me and I smeared some on. Can you say EEEEEEWWWWW?! It. was. so. nasty. I had to wipe it off immediately. Dry lips were better than that nasty crap. Needless to say, I got a new batch made that weekend. 🙂
This time, I endeavored to melt my shea butter for longer. Okay. Good move. Enter my next failure. The new batch of lip tubes I bought, whatever was cheapest I’m sure, let all my essential oils (my expensive Frankincense and my yummy, refreshing peppermint) run right out the bottom of the tube. I didn’t know it until they were all solidified and was picking them up to put caps on. Under each tube sat a little puddle of essential oils. The kitchen smelled great. But once again, not the product I was going for.
Now looking back, I’m kind of glad that my first batch turned out perfectly. Otherwise, I might have been tempted to think, oh this will never work, and give up. But these failures have taught me some things too. Even making things in small batches, it’s really hard to make a consistent, exact product! You have to admire mass manufacturing in that regard. But it’s also why they make things out of chemicals and preservatives and not natural ingredients…because it gives them control. But yuck – chemicals and preservatives. I’ll take my chances with my natural ingredient experiments, thank you.
While I’ll continue to look for the best deal on things like lip balm tubes, you also get what you pay for. A cheaper product isn’t necessarily the best deal if an entire batch of lip balm was “ruined” because of them. These successes and failures have also taught me to not be afraid to experiment. And I’ve learned that because one batch didn’t work like I wanted, I’m able to tweak it the next time, and the next time if necessary. I actually learn a lot more about formulation and chemistry that way.
Another value lesson is that because I’m working with natural ingredients and making things myself, I can afford to experiment. Ever bought and expensive beauty or food product, only to discover you just really don’t like it? But it really, really bugs you to just throw it out because it was so expensive? Because my homemade health and beauty products literally cost me pennies per “serving” to make, I’m free to throw it out and try again.
Or in today’s case, I twisted out all of those lip balms tubes, cut them off into a jar, melted it down in a double boiler, added my essential oils directly to my mixture and then refilled a new set of tubes. Presto! I’m back in business with a stock of our beloved lip balm. Don’t be afraid to take a mulligan and redo something if it’s salvageable – like my lip balm.
By the way, here’s how I make my lip balm:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup raw shea butter
1/4 cup beeswax (I use pastilles)
Peppermint essential oil (I use Doterra products)
Frankincense essential oil
Melt the shea butter in a double boiler. Add the beeswax and stir until melted. Finally, add the coconut oil and stir until melted. Take the melted mixture off the heat. I add 30 drops of peppermint oil and 10 drops of Frankincense. You can certainly adjust the peppermint to taste. Work quickly to pour the balm into tubes or pots. Or you can use a plastic pipette to fill the tubes.
This will make 20+ tubes, so you’ll have enough to share. You can cut the recipe half if you want to make less. I have learned from experience that as the balm cools, it sinks a little in the middle of the tube. But once it starts solidifying, if you try and top it off, the second “pour” will break and pop off. So, we just deal with the low center when as we twist a new balm up from the tube. 🙂
If you’re venturing in to making things for yourself – and I highly recommend it – don’t worry if things don’t come out to perfection the first time. The point is you’re trying and you’re learning. And you just might find yourself creating something even better than you could have imagined. Experiment. Create. I don’t think I can adequately describe the sense of satisfaction you receive. And if nothing else, it gives me great material at work to baffle people: “you made that yourself???” or my old favorite after describing something I made or built: “of course you did!”
Until next time, worms rock, bees rules and chickens are my Zen.
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