A Very Simple Lotion, Failures & Success

A day or so after we made our simple lip balm, I tried my hand at making a simple lotion. I got the recipe from Leigh over at 5 Acres & A Dream. It’s in her latest ebooklet, How To Make An Herbal Salve, which is part of The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos, she’s been writing. I wanted something very simple, with few ingredients, that I could make from things I normally keep on hand. Leigh’s recipe fit the bill.

Trying to make a simple lotion is a continuation of our attempt to minimize the chemicals we ingest or absorb into our bodies. And, once again, I was amazed just how easy it is to make this lotion, even though it failed the second time I made it. But that’s getting ahead of myself. I forgot to take any pictures while I made the first batch.

The recipe calls for one cup of herbal tea. I had recently read that lemon balm and peppermint are good for your skin, and I happened to have a few leaves here and there growing out in the herb bed, so I picked them to use in my tea. I brought the water to boiling, turned off the fire, added the herbs and let them steep for about five minutes.

Next, I took 3/4 cup of oil, I used olive oil, and melted 2 tbsp. of beeswax in it. After the tea was ready, I blended it into the oil, until it was well blended. Leigh uses a blender. I used a slotted spoon. I wasn’t sure how long to stir it, and I knew I wouldn’t get the same consistency as a blender, but I thought it worked out well.


Frank and I were pleased with the results. This lotion is definitely oilier than any over the counter lotion we have used. But, if you give it a few minutes it will soak in and works very well.

 
So, the other day I thought I would make another batch since we have already used up more than half of the first batch. I picked more lemon balm and peppermint, even though there wasn’t much left out there. 

 

Made my tea, melted the beeswax and got ready to mix it together. 

This time I used the KitchenAid with the whip attachment to ‘blend’ the tea into the oil. After I thought it was well blended, it started to solidify on the sides of the bowl, I poured it into my half pint jars. 

 

Very quickly it started to separate. Tea on the bottom, olive oil and beeswax on the top. I scooped it out and remelted everything, stirred it with my slotted spoon, and poured it back into the jars. It separated again. I looked at the recipe over and over and tried to figure out what I had done differently to no avail. So, on the counter, taking up space, my failed lotion sat for almost a week. The other day Frank asked me if it had anywhere else it could be. But I told him for now, it was just sitting there until I could figure out what to do differently with it.

 Well, this morning it was time. I didn’t have the time to go out searching for more lemon balm and peppermint, so I used some store bought chamomile and made up a cup of tea.



I scooped off the olive oil and beeswax from the failed batch, remelted it again, and poured out the old tea. This time I didn’t bother with the Kitchen Aid. I figured if it didn’t work, I would dump it all out and try again another time.

After I poured the tea into the oils, I stirred and stirred with my slotted spoon. The mixture looked exactly like the failed batch and I didn’t think it would work. I have been researching a lot about making soap lately, reading and watching YouTubes. I have learned what getting your soap to trace means. It’s when you have stirred it long enough for it to become a thick, pudding consistency that will hold it’s shape when you run a spoon across the top. What does this have to do with making lotion? Well, as I stood there stirring and stirring, I wondered if I cooled the lotion down enough for the oils to start solidifying, would they begin to blend with the tea the way they were supposed to? So I put the pan into a sink of cold water to cool it down as I stirred and stirred. My arm was getting tired.


It worked. As the oils began to solidify, the tea started to blend into the mixture. I tried stirring with my left hand, but kept splashing droplets here and there on the counter. So, I stirred and stirred until it was time to stop.

There are still tiny, little pockets that look like moisture, but this time, the lotion actually looks rather creamy, like you would expect from a commercial lotion. I really couldn’t care less if it looked like a commercial lotion, but since that is what I have used all my life, it is what I have come to expect a lotion to look like. The consistency of the first batch is more like a salve than a lotion, but this batch is creamier, even though the ingredients are the same. Interesting.


There are many things that I have long dreamed and thought of doing. Making lotion wasn’t one of them. But, you know what? I think it is so neat, and fun, and healthier, and just really cool. I made a very simple lotion from ingredients I keep on hand, thanks to all the folks out there that share what they know and do, so I can do it too. What a great life!

Until next time – Fern

9 thoughts on “A Very Simple Lotion, Failures & Success

  1. I have read a lot about comfrey salves, Kymber, but have yet to make any. I hope to make some this summer since we have do plenty of comfrey growing. And, you know what? You don't resemble a hog at all! (-: I appreciate your comments, and thank you for sharing them.Fern

  2. Thank you for continuing to teach me, Tewshooz. I have read a little about bacteria in lotions, but not much. So you have given me more to research. We are excited at the prospect of making soap and will soon know what trace looks like first hand, instead of only reading about it and watching it in a video. That is the plan anyway.Thank you again for sharing.Fern

  3. Fern – i have a tendency to hog your comment section so i won't do it this time – bahahahah! i know that you have comfrey growing on your land and comfrey makes the absolute best lotion for everything from dry skin, or you can use it as a daily face moisturizer, you can make a gorgeous lip balm out of it, it is also good for cuts, burns, rashes and bruises…if you are interested the recipe is simple. gather fresh comfrey leaves (about a handfull), tear them up and just cover them with coconut oil (or olive oil if it is cold pressed and virgin). heat it to a simmer, turn the heat off and put a lid on it. a few hours later, do the same (heat to a simmer and then turn off the heat and put a lid on it). keep doing this until the comfrey leaves are crispy – i usually do it every few hours for 2 full days. then strain out the comfrey leaves, add the tiniest bit of beeswax. heat that on low until the beeswax melts. take a spoon of it and set the spoon on the counter. it should set on the spoon in about 10 mins. test the thickness on the spoon and decide if you want to add more beeswax or not. if it is too your liking, pour the pot of comfrey salve into jars or containers and you're done.amazingly enough, you can make a good comfrey salve and leave out the beeswax – it still makes a wonderful lotion though it is much thinner. comfrey is an amazing plant with many health benefits!sorry to hog your comment section yet again – but i just wanted you to know about comfrey salve because you already grow it.your friend,kymber

  4. Have never thought of making lotion. Have been using Sweet Almond Oil for about 15 years – a teaspoon does my whole body. Yes, it's expensive but it lasts a long time. Also, as a pure liquid oil it's rather messy to apply. So, I'm thinking maybe I should blend it with some beeswax to improve consistency. Thanks for the great post.

  5. If you make a lotion or cream that has water in it, you must use a preservative or you run the risk of bacteria growing in your product. Not a good idea if you use around your eyes. Try Vitamin E for starters. Just like mayonnaise, oil and water do not mix without being in emulsion. Also, soap does not have to be the consistency of pudding to be at trace. A slight trace is good enough.

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