Sunday, October 3, 2010

Experiments in the workshop: An anhydrous whipped butter for my aching back.

You may remember the post from a few days ago when I made a whipped butter for my best friend's horribly mangled foot...well, now it's my turn! My lower back has not been nice to me for almost two weeks. (I fell down a flight of stairs on a ferry two years ago, leaving me with a bump on what we'll call my very lower back, and now I have trouble sitting for long periods of time. I had three days in a row of sitting in our very uncomfortable office chairs, and I spent four days in bed just letting my back rest!) I thought I'd use what I learned in making the products for Wanda to make something for me.

My priority for Wanda's cream was to avoid ingredients that don't play well with broken skin: For my product, this isn't an issue, so I can use what I want. I didn't have a lot of time to stand in the workshop, so a whipped butter would be the best choice.

I started off with aloe butter as the base for the properties it offers, and I wanted to use the calendula, arnica, and comfrey oils as well. I made up a blend of essential oils - 1% peppermint, 1% spearmint, 0.5% cinnamon, 0.5% clove bud - and used that at 2% for their circulatory properties. I decided to throw in some cetyl esters to stiffen it up a bit and add some slip and glide because I wanted it to be easy for my husband to rub into my back, although you could use cetyl alcohol in its place or leave it out entirely. (I wasn't worried about the essential oil blend being bothersome because both Raymond and I could get up to wash our hands afterwards.) I've added Vitamin E because some of these oils have shortish shelf lives, and I'm hoping to use it for a week or two and then put it away until I need it again (which, we hope, won't be any time in the near future).

50% aloe butter
10% cetyl esters or cetyl alcohol
10% calendula oil
15% arnica oil
10% comfrey oil
2% IPM
2% essential oil blend
1% Vitamin E

Weigh out the calendula oil, arnica oil, comfrey oil, IPM, and cetyl esters and heat until just melted. Add to the aloe butter and mix well. The temperature shouldn't be over 50˚C, so you can add your essential oil and Vitamin E and whip until fluffy and lovely.

What do I think about this? It feels really nice on my back, although I would like a little more tingle. I'm always wary using essential oils at higher than 0.5% or 1%, so I won't increase them, but it would be nice to have a little more. Raymond reported he had to use our d-Limonene hand cleanser to get the fragrance off his hands, but he didn't find it unpleasant or overpowering as a smell.

I think adding some cyclomethicone or dimethicone would increase the slip and glide, which is a good thing in a massage butter, and perhaps another slippery oil in place of some of the aloe butter would help it spread a little better if you wanted more play time with this, but I'm really pleased with it. It's light and fluffy, it feels nice on my skin, and I'm hoping it is helping my poor sore back heal!

Join me tomorrow for...


Naomi said...

I hope your back feels better... what about menthol? And, what about making it into a balm in a lotion tube so that you can rub it on without having to touch it (though, a back massage by a husband is always so nice). You may have inflamation that's causing your back pain. When I tweaked out my back, the best thing I used was an ice pack.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Naomi. It's getting better slowly. I'm sure it's inflammation - when I take anti-inflammatories, it feels better - and that's causing the muscle spasms!

I could have made a lotion bar with the essential oils and menthol - I have a ton of deodorant containers around - but I admit I've gone a little off menthol since the encounter with the bottle of so-called good tasting Buckley's syrup last week. It was so menthol-y, I couldn't breathe for at least 10 seconds, and then I was gasping as it felt like my windpipe had closed!

Laura said...

Ouch - I hope you start feeling some long-term relief soon!

Do you think that adding emu oil might help give a little more tingle without using menthol?

Celine Blacow said...

Susan - have you tried Kombo butter out yet? I hear it's really supposed to help with aches and pain when used as a massage butter (could use it in this recipe, just sub out another butter)... might be useful for your back?!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Laura! I've never used emu oil so I'm not sure what it would do for me, but I'm willing to try anything! I don't think I know of a place that carries it near me in Canada, though.

My husband commented that he liked using it, that it felt nice and whippy and easy to spread on my back!

Sierra Snow Soaps said...

I hope you are feeling better by now...I have read that the oil from emu helps to soak into the skin deeper. When I make a pain cream I use it. I had to tell my daughter they squeezed it out of thier feathers, she wasn't going for killing a cute bird for it's oil.
Michelle in NV

Laura said...

Hi Susan. Emu oil has transdermal properties and there are several patents in the works relating to using it as a carrier for antifungals, local anesthetics, etc. A dear friend of mine embroiders for several hours a day (when she's not hand-carving tiny pieces of wax for silver casting) and I'm working on a balm for her to help decrease muscle fatigue. I'm hoping the addition of emu oil will help the essential oils to be a little more effective. "Whippy" is exactly the texture I'm hoping to get on her product too. :)

p said...

Sorry to hear about your back, Susan. :( I wonder if a higher % of those wonderful infused oils would be helpful for your pain? When I have knee or back pain, I use a balm made of oils and butters I infused with comfrey and calendula. It's really easy - just heat and hold the oils & butters and herbs at 45-50 C for several hours, the longer the better, then strain through cheesecloth, and proceed as usual (I added beeswax to make a balm). If I'd had arnica flowers, I would have used them too. Do you ever infuse oils like this yourself?

Pier said...

Hi Susan
I made your foot cream for really damaged feet and I succeed. I also try it and it seems very good feeling. I also have a recipe with only Essential oils and 1 carrier oil. It is also very good. Since 2 weeks I rub my feet with and feeling better. I you are interest I can give you the recipe. Let me know.
I read a lot of your posts about everything and learning more and more every day. Thanks to you again and again.
My question is : As I couldn't get this famous IPM from Formulator, what if I let it out completely and maybe replacing it by adding 2% of acetyl alcohol or nothing else.