March 12, 2013

Homemade chapstick

My chapstick of choice is regular Burt's Bees. We've been running low these last couple months, and the last two stores I looked in did not have it in stock. I'm sure I can find it someplace, or just order it online, but the experience of having to find the time to go into a shop only to be frustrated in my desire to engage in consumer activity is annoying. Wouldn't it be great if I could just make my own chapstick in my kitchen whenever I needed it? How hard could it be?

Being possessed of an approach to life favoring the purchase of ingredients or raw materials over finished products, plus my newfound desire to free myself from consumer enslavement to the tyrannical chapstick corporations prodded me to do some research on home made chapstick. Turns out it is possibly the easiest personal care product to make at home. Plus you can proactively adjust the formulation to suit, instead of serially buying unsatisfying commercial products to try to find one that mostly fits your desires.

The first order guideline for a simple chapstick formulation is 25% wax, 75% oil, plus extras like scents, colors, etc. After reading the ingredients on a tube of Burt's Bees, I set out to create a stripped down version for home use. The kids and I made up a 60g batch as a trial, mostly using stuff I already had onhand for soapmaking.

We measured out:

  • 30g coconut oil
  • 15g avocado oil (with Vitamin E)
  • 15g beeswax
  • 0.6g Peppermint essential oil

The ingredients all went into a pyrex beaker and were slowly melted on a low flame on the stove top.

After everything looked well melted and blended, we poured it out into a saran lined bowl to cool overnight for testing the next day.

If we felt it needed some adjustment, we could remelt and add some additional wax, oil, or fragrance, then pour into some empty chapstick tubes I bought on Amazon.

But the next day we decided it was pretty nice as it was.

So we returned it to the beaker for remelting.

While it was heating up, Violet and Buster readied the empty tubes.

It was easy to pour straight from the beaker into the tubes.

A short time later, they were hardened and ready to use. I now have one in my pocket, one in my bag, and one in my desk drawer at work. Violet labeled one for herself, and is looking forward to giving a few to her friends as gifts.

Violet says this is the best chapstick in the whole world!

Millie is not a mint lover, so she is not crazy about it. Next time I'll get some fruity scent for her, or maybe make a batch of unscented. I think its pretty good stuff, certainly good enough to replace boughten chapstick.

The ingredients work out to about $0.08/tube, and I expect we can refill the tubes a few times before they are worn out.

In my opinion, this formulation is a little on the soft side, especially coming out of your hot and steamy pants pocket. So next time maybe I'll up the wax %. I've also been reading up on home made cosmetic products at the excellent blog, which on one page suggests substituting a few percent of a harder, higher melt point wax like carnauba for some of the beeswax to help with the heat softening issue. Becky however rather likes her chapstick soft and feels that commercial blends are often too hard. Easy enough to have different formulations for different tastes!

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