Make It Miniseries: Lip Balm

For many years, I was a loyal customer of Burt’s Bees for their lip balm – I thought it was simply the best ever.  Now I make my own lip balm.  A few days ago I found a Burt’s Bees grapefruit flavored lip balm in the bottom of my purse while I was rummaging for a pen.  Just for old times’ sake, I opened it (it still smelled good) and put some on.  I was surprised at how waxy it felt, compared to what I’m used to feeling…and then I felt just a little bit smug.  As in, “Burt’s got nothin’ on me!” – but truth be told, lip balm is not like making a soufflé or anything that complicated.  Tons of lip balm recipes abound on the internet, but I’m going to share mine with you and you too can say, “Burt’s got nothin’ on me.”

I have a secret weapon when it comes to lip balm making: it’s my trusty Wilton candy melter.  I bought it years ago at an after Christmas sale for $5, thinking to myself that I’d make chocolates for Valentine’s Day.  Oh, the lies we tell ourselves – am I right?

I can't even begin to tell you how perfectly perfect it is for making lip balms.  I slammed out 150 of them in about 1.5 hours without breaking a sweat - and while they were melting (it took about 15 minutes for a batch of 50 to melt) I worked on other projects. Pouring them was SO EASY. The pot has these tiny spouts on each side (great, because I'm a lefty and I hate to be persecuted for it) and I poured them into the tubes with about ten or so tubes rubber banded together. The spouts are small and pointed so pouring can be extremely precise.

The melting pot sits inside the melter so that the sides are kept warm, and there's a non-stick coating so that no balm sticks to the sides - it all flows out and you can pour every last drop of that balm.  (Note: some of the newer models have silicone pots, which are also wonderful because the balm rolls right out, just like the non-stick surface pots.  Some of them come with lids so you can let it sit and cool off, remove it from the melter, pop on the lid, and store it for later.)  You can make lip balm with a double boiler, but tiny batches like the one in this post will begin to solidify before you get it all poured, and a lot of it will stick to the sides of the container….it’s not the best way to do it.

Now, some of you are not likely to be interested in making 50 lip balms.  For some of you, making 10 to 12 would be about right.  So I’m going to adapt the recipe for a smaller batch.  You can pour the lip balm in tubes, or little tins or jars for mineral makeup (Amazon, Etsy, and eBay all sell empty containers like this.)  Or you can recycle little containers, especially if you are making them for yourself and family – just scrub them out thoroughly and make sure they’re completely dry before putting lip balm in them.

The biggest advantage to making your own balms is that you have control over the ingredients.  Allergic to coconut oil?  Leave it out and increase the liquid oil by half the amount of the coconut oil.  Allergic to cocoa butter – or hate the smell?  Use mango butter instead.  Use flavor oils or food grade essential oils, it’s your choice!

You’ll need a scale that weighs in grams, a couple of craft sticks or popsicle sticks to stir the lip balm, and a dozen or so containers.  The twist up tubes only hold about 6 grams each, but round tins or tiny jars can hold 8 to 15 grams.

Lip Balm Recipe – makes about 80 grams, or 2.67 oz., or a dozen or so lip balms

15 g Beeswax

23 g Olive Oil – or any liquid oil such as sunflower, sweet almond, jojoba, or argan

15 g Coconut Oil

24 g Cocoa Butter OR Mango Butter

One of the following flavors:

2 to 3 grams Flavor Oil – use oil based candy or lip balm flavors

1 gram lemongrass EO (food grade)

10 to 12 drops peppermint EO (food grade)

2 grams lavender EO (food grade)

Instructions:

  1. Place the candy melter pot on your scale and weigh all the ingredients directly into the pot, using the tare button to zero out the scale before adding each ingredient.

  2. Put the pot into the base and turn on the melter.  See how that pot sits inside the base of the melter?  That’s what makes this design work so well for lip balms: other containers will begin to cool off quickly on the sides, but this design keeps the sides warm.

  3. While the ingredients are heating, take a few lip balm tubes and bundle them together with a rubber band. (This makes it easier to pour and you can set them down all bundled together, instead of trying to balance one little tube at a time.)

  4. When all ingredients are completely liquid, pick up a bundle of tubes and start pouring.  (You can also put them in a disposable cup to hold them for pouring, but I like the rubber band bundles because I can get closer to the tubes for pouring.)

  5. When all the tubes are filled the balm will shrink a bit, leaving little “sink holes” on the tops.  They are perfectly good to use, but you can make a pretty rounded top by letting them sit for a bit to cool and begin to solidify.  Add a little more balm, slowly adding drops at a time, and the drops will form a rounded top.

  6. Let the finished lip balms cool off completely before putting on the caps to prevent any condensation from forming inside the lids.  This is important because you don’t want water sitting on top of the lip balm.

If you end up with more lip balm than containers, no problem.  Let the balm cool down in the melter, and when it becomes solid, pop it out and store it in a ziplock bag.  It will keep for months, in fact it will stay good for as long as the shortest expiration date on your ingredients.  When you’re ready to pour more balm, take it out of the bag, put it in the melter, turn it on, and soon you’ll be ready to pour those lip balms.