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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Be Awesome at Making Lotion Bars

For those who might not know, I am completely addicted to lotion.  I carry some with me constantly. I have to have a bottle by my bed, and I have it strategically stationed around my house as well.  Any time I wash my hands, I have to immediately put on lotion.

A while back I pinned this tutorial for making lotion bars.  It sounds like a great idea: a harder form of lotion that melts at skin temperature just enough to coat your hands, but stays on better than regular lotion and isn't greasy or weird feeling.  You know that feeling when your hands get all squeaky?


Umm, me neither.  Who has squeaky hands?  That's weird.

Anyway, recently we went to a local craft fair, and some of the vendors were selling lotion bars, so I tried them out.  They seemed to work well, and I'm always down for more lotion.  Plus, I thought they would make nice gifts, so I decided to make some.

Step 1:  Assemble your Ingredients.

I decided to buy this DIY kit from MadeOn Skin Care Products.  It comes with everything you need to make the lotion bars, plus one of their own lotion bars and stuff to make a few lip balms, which sounded fun.

I was so excited when my package came that I literally did a happy dance.  I couldn't wait to try it out.

I decided to use a silicone star mold that I got at the dollar store a while ago, and ended up using some silicone muffin cups, too.

Beeswax is of course made by bees, but when you buy it, it doesn't come in a hive, which is the unit I was prepared for.  Instead, it comes in these tiny pellets that do not taste as good as they look.

They do smell great though.  They smell like honey, and I liked it so much I didn't add any other scent to the bars!

I actually had to Google "What is shea butter?" because Brian was convinced that a shea was a kind of animal that had very rich milk.

It is not.

It is a tree.  In Africa.

It also has a consistency pretty much identical to Crisco, and is just about as impossible to handle.  By the time I was finished getting it in the bowl, my hands, counter, utensils, and floor were smeared with it.

(Two days after I made this, I realized that the directions said to freeze the package first to make the shea butter easier to use.  Well played, directions.  Well played.)

Coconut oil was the one ingredient I was actually familiar with.  It's basically a solid oil that melts at exactly skin temperature.

It's not quite as sticky, but since it melts when you touch it, it is difficult to hold onto.  Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure my counters were gilded in lotion bar by the end of this.

You can also use essential oils to scent the bars, but like I said, I liked the scent of the beeswax so much, I didn't use any.

Step 2:  Open Packages.

The best way to do this is to take a small, sharp knife and slice haphazardly at the packaging until it just works.  Ignore the voice in your head telling you this is not a safe way to do it.  You've got this.

Step 3:  Get a Bandaid.

I managed to stop the bleeding before I contaminated my supplies, which was really the main thing.

Step 4:  Combine Ingredients.

You will need pretty much equal parts of the main three ingredients: beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil.  The directions say to use a double boiler, which of course I don't have.  I really need one.

In the past, I have used different methods to substitute for a double boiler.  They all worked better than the one I used this time.

The flames are not supposed to be that color.

I decided to use a small Pyrex bowl that I would float in a pot of water.  The pot was too small, so I just had to drop the bowl in there, which caused hot water to fly out in all directions, especially the direction of my leg.

If you're keeping count, that's two injuries so far.  While trying to make lotion.  For my skin.

Step 5:  Stir Until Ingredients are Melted.

This was a problem.  I couldn't stir it without pushing down on the bowl, which made water come up over the rim.  I tried holding the bowl with tongs, but there wasn't enough room.  Eventually, I had to put the whole thing in the sink and, using tongs and hot pads, pull the bowl out of there.  Water got in it.  I ignored it.

At this point, I had a half-melted mixture.

I decided to put it in the microwave to melt the rest.  I did it for thirty seconds at a time.  Once or twice it "roiled" like there was some living creature in it, which was kind of creepy, but it actually did work.  After a few minutes, it was all melted.

Step 6:  Pour into Molds.

What they leave out of the directions at this point is, RUN LIKE THE WIND!  THE CLOCK IS TICKING!

This stuff does not stay liquid for long, and everything goes downhill once it starts solidifying again.

I used a measuring cup to pour it in the molds.

Shouldn't have taken the picture.  Valuable seconds wasted.
The more you use, the faster the stuff in the bowl will get solid.  I should have done my lip balms first, but I saved them for last.

Step 7:  Make Lip Balm.

You have to add about 1/2 Tablespoon extra coconut oil to make the lip balm, and by that point, my mixture was pretty much solid again, so I had to stick it back in the microwave.

That's when I heard the explosion.

Step 8:  Clean Out Microwave

"How to Be Awesome at Moisturizing your Microwave"
It was everywhere.  Just everywhere.

It took Brian at least thirty minutes to clean it up, partly because my paper towels are very difficult to use right now, but that's a different story.

Step 9:  Finish Making Lip Balm

I would not be cowed.  I took what was left in the dish and started to fill the lip balm containers with the pipette that came in my kit.

The problem was, it started to solidify in the pipette.

So I had to microwave the pipette to get it back to liquid again.

Over.  And over.  And over.

It took more time to make those three and a half lip balms than it did to make sixteen lotion bars, but I didn't care.  I started it, and I was going to finish it.

Eventually, I did end up with my finished product.

Step 10:  Remove from Molds

I let them sit a while to cool, and then I popped them out of their molds.  That's when I realized my other mistake.

Remember the water that got in the bowl?

It didn't just go away.  It was there in the mixture, and since water and oil don't mix, it was at the bottom of the molds.  When I popped them out, water poured out onto the counter.  It left weird little shapes in the bottoms of the big bars, but I didn't care by this point.  I was finished.

They're moon lotion bars.
The star ones turned out pretty enough to give as gifts.  The big ones I'll keep for myself.

They do work though.  They work really well.  And now that I know a little better what to do, I'm pretty sure I could make them again with a much lower injury count.

As long as I get a double boiler first.


  1. I want to admit to you that I laughed so much reading this that Jonathan asked me twice what I'm looking at. IN MY DEFENSE, I know exactly how you feel. When we got married, a friend gave me a gift basket that included a one-inch-think circle of loofah with lime soap in it. It was AWESOME for exfoliating, and I've been on the lookout for another one for years. I finally decided I could buy a loofah, cut it into pieces, and then pour melted soap in it.... but I don't have a double boiler, either, and the process went something like what you've described here. I didn't cut myself, but i did end up with burns. The things work, but because of the way the soap did, well, they don't work as well as I want them to.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one! Haha yeah, double boilers are apparently awesome. I wouldn't know, but it seems like they would be!

  2. My double boiler substitute:
    I use a pan on the stove top. One end is on the eye of the stove (I have a ceramic top), and the other end has all my ingredients in a glass container. The heat from the eye keeps the water warm without burning all your expensive crap. This recipe rocks, btw! I'm making insect repellant lotion bars for my Etsy this week!!

    Also, I've read this post more than necessary because it brightens my day when I have shea butter and coconut oil up to my elbows :)

    1. Yeah, see, that sounds like a much more logical solution to the not-having-a-double-boiler problem than my "microwave it until it explodes" solution!

      Glad you like the recipe and glad the post makes you smile! What's your etsy site and I'll check out your stuff! :o)


    Thanks for your support!!

  4. You have a way with writing and made me laugh more than once. :) Just wanted to tell you that a lot of people who make lotions and other personal care products (including me) do not have "real" double boilers. Just put a couple inches of water in a sauce pan, set a glass bowl with the ingredients you want to melt in it on top of the sauce pan and then turn the heat on. As the water under the bowl heats up it will melt your beeswax, etc. Test the fit of your bowl on the pan before you start just in case ;) I do this all the time when I make all the stuff I sell in my Etsy shop (SimplyBeeInspired). Good luck!

  5. I love that your headline is "How to be Awesome at Making Lotion Bars," and it was basically a fail post. Too funny! Candid is so refreshing when everyone out there is trying to fool us into thinking they do lists of flawless projects. :) Thank you!

  6. 3 Researches REVEAL Why Coconut Oil Kills Waist Fat.

    The meaning of this is that you literally kill fat by consuming coconut fats (including coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 researches from big medical journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world around!