Growing up in the desert, I became an early user and somewhat addicted to lip protection. I always had a tube of the stuff in my pocket.
One day, I realized that commercial lip balm was made of nasty petrochemicals and started looking for alternatives. There were a lot of pricey boutique brands and I tried a few, and then I found a product made by Chapstick, which was made with several exotic butters, like shea and aloe. These moisturized my lips while protecting them from the drying effects of wind and sun.
But, alas, all good things come to an end, and Chapstick stopped making them. The last ones are now available, but very pricey, up to $10 a tube.
So I decided I'd try to make my own.
Step 1: Gather the ingredients
As a beekeeper, I have plenty of beeswax, which I figured would make a nice base. I thought I'd start with a simple recipe, so I got some shea butter and coconut oil that was sitting on the counter in the kitchen. Both of these are solid at room temperature, so I thought they would make a nice combination, along with the beeswax base, so as to not melt too quickly in my pocket.
Step 2: The fancy filler thingee
If I had thought ahead, I would have saved my spent tubes, washed them out, and used them. Instead, I found a handy little kit here. This kit has 24 tubes ready for filling, plus a holder and a little spatula, which I didn't need to use for this project. In all, the whole kit cost less than two of the nearly extinct tubes of Chapstick Naturals.
Step 3: Melt everything together
Before you start melting things, you'll want to make sure to load up the filler thingee. Once the mixture gets hot, it'll start to cool off quickly, and you'll want to make sure you have the filler ready to receive the glorious concoction.
Start by melting the beeswax. I used a makeshift double boiler consisting of a small pan of boiling water and a 1/2 cup metal measuring cup.
If you've never worked with beeswax, you'll want to know about the properties of this wonderful substance. Think of wax, and then think of honey. And then think of how that wax would be if it were as sticky and messy as honey is. And then think of the last time you spilled honey, except imagine if that honey wanted to stay where it landed. I hope you're getting the picture.
You'll want to make sure that you keep the beeswax where you want it, and not let it get all over your stove and counters. If you get messy at this point, you'll be spending more time cleaning up than you spent making your lip balm.
It's really not that bad, just be careful.
I ended up with about a third of a cup of beeswax, and so I added another third of a cup of shea butter and a third of a cup of coconut oil.
All that goes into a small pan over low heat until it's mixed, just a couple minutes.
Step 4: Pour into the tubes
Once everything is mixed, gently pour it into the tubes. Be careful; the mixture is pretty hot by now.
Let it cool while you clean up your mess.
Step 5: Take them apart and enjoy!
Once they're cool, just break them from the filler thingee and put a cap on each one.
You'll notice that there's a little dimple in the center of each tube. This is caused by the fact that warm wax is less dense than cool wax. Candlemakers are familiar with this phenomenon, seeing the dimple form and the top cave in a bit. Not to worry, though; the first time you apply the concoction to your lips, you'll never see the dimple again!
Step 6: Lessons learned and future plans
This is about the most simple natural recipe I could think of. Next time, I might add some mint, or other natural flavors depending on what sounds good. It would probably be best to add essential oils so everything mixes well.
This is a total of one cup of mixture, and it made 18 tubes. That's several years of personal use, so I'm sure I'll be giving some away. I would probably have been better off just making a smaller amount and experimenting a little bit.
Can you think of other additives that might be fun?