Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back to basics: Balms - a new recipe idea

We've turned our whipped butters and lotion bars into balms by using specific essential oils and using specific oils and butters (click here and here). Let's take a look at creating balms that are really softer versions of lotion bars that we'll store in jars or tins. (Because there's no water in this balm, you can use those adorable little tins you keep wanting to use from your local supplier!)

I found that I like a balm with the consistency of Vaseline or Vicks, something I can scoop out of a container that will melt on contact with my skin. I find about 20% beeswax gives me that consistency. I like to use about 20% to 30% butter for this recipe as well - it gives it a certain stiffness without being a lotion bar. The rest of the ingredients should be oil soluble liquids.

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils.

BASIC BALM RECIPE
20% beeswax or soy wax
25% shea or mango butter
54% liquid oil
1% fragrance or essential oil

Weigh the wax, butter, and oil in a heatproof container and put into a double boiler. Melt until the solids are liquid. Remove and let cool to 45˚C before adding your fragrance or essential oil. Pour into your container or let sit in the Pyrex jug until cooled, then spoon into your container. Rejoice.

If you want to use cocoa butter, you'll want to reduce the beeswax to about 15% and up the liquid oil amount by 5%. If you want to use oils with a 6 months or less shelf life, add up to 1% Vitamin E.

Although I really like the basic balm recipe, you know I can't help doing a little experimenting. So I added some cetyl alcohol to see if it would stiffen up my balm and add some creaminess. It did, and it felt very nice on my skin, very glidy. You could do this with stearic acid as well - it'll be a little stiffer with some creaminess, but it'll be a little less glidy on your skin.

MODIFIED BALM RECIPE WITH CETYL ALCOHOL
20% beeswax
25% shea butter
49% oil
5% cetyl alcohol
1% fragrance oil

As with the whipped butter and lotion bar recipes, if you choose drier oils and butters, you'll have a drier feeling product. You can add esters - like IPM at 2% - to reduce the greasy feeling you get from this product. But let's be honest here - it's an oil based product, so you're not going to make the greasy feeling go away.

As we know, a balm is a product intended to be rubbed into the skin to help treat a specific condition. So let's take a look at a few specific conditions tomorrow and tweak this recipe further!

7 comments:

Susie said...

Your blog is amazing, I've been reading it and I feel like I've done the equivalent of chemistry A level. But in a good way ;-)

Szilvi said...

Awesome recipes, thank you Susan for your generosity!!!:))
I am using this one to make an eczema balm for my children, not for sale, just for us. It is amazing how easily and cheaply we can make cosmetics far superior to that of the much more expensive ones sold at stores.

Nancy Newsom said...

Hi Susan, Thank you for your wonderful and informative blog! I make shea butter balms and find that they sometimes get grainy on me a few weeks after making. I think this may have to do with how quickly it cools (faster being better). Any thoughts on this?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nancy! I've addressed your question in today's Weekend Wonderings. The short answer is that you need to temper your butters before using them and cool the products quickly.

shahn said...

Hi
Can I use cetyl alcohol/esters or btms in place of the beewax for the salve recipe?

Sara said...

I used this basic balm recipe today and the results were fantastic! Thank you so much. Your blog is an amazing resource. I

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sara! Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm so glad you like the recipe!