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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Second Try at Making Homemade Hand Lotion

I followed the recipe in Kim Flottum's book, The Backyard Beekeeper. I used the ingredients and followed the directions. The picture in the book is this light-as-a-cloud lotion that is white. Mine came out green and hard as a candle. These results made me think of my mother.

My mother is a great cook. She understands how everything goes together and everything she makes is wonderful. Her banana bread is so delicious. Once I asked her for the recipe and she gave it to me on an index card. I went back home and tried it, but it didn't taste at all like my mother's banana bread. So the next time I went home, I asked my mother to make the banana bread and show me what she did.

Reading the recipe card and watching her make the bread were two quite different things! I grabbed another card and titled it: "What Mother Really Does." We now have a standing joke in my family: If you like a recipe, we always ask the cook, "OK, so, how did you 'mother' it?"

I believe that what the lotion maker in The Backyard Beekeeper actually did and what the recipe said were two quite different things.

Today I saw a friend who once upon a time made hand lotion from his herb garden. I asked him what the secret to success with lotion is? He told me to whip it up in the blender while it cools and it will be soft like commercial lotion.

I came home and popped the hard little candle-like lotion nuggets out of the containers in which I had poured them and put them in the Pyrex measuring cup. I placed the whole thing in a pan of hot water and re-melted the lotion. When it was liquid, I added a little lanolin (not in the recipe) and about a tablespoon of cocoa butter.

So here's the process of putting it all together:

Backyard Beekeeper recipe:
2 cups olive oil
1/4 cup palm oil (I couldn't find it at Whole Foods and used almond oil instead)
3/4 cup coconut oil
6 ounces beeswax
40 - 50 drops essential oil (I used lemon)

Melt the oils and butters. Add the beeswax and melt together. Test the mix by dropping five or six drops onto waxed paper to cool so you can see how hard it gets. If too hard, add more oil, if too soft or greasy, add more beeswax to stiffen. When it begins to cool, stir in six drops of Vitamin E oil. If you want fragrance, add essential oils after removing the pan from the heat.

The above results in hard candle-like green bars (green because of the extra virgin olive oil).

What I really did (how I "mothered" the recipe (as we say in my family):

  1. I heated the olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil in an 8 cup Pyrex measure sitting in a pan of boiling water.
  2. When the liquids were hot, I added 6 ounces of beeswax and melted it in the hot oil.
  3. I took this off of the heat and added six drops of Vitamin E and drops of lemon essential oil (it still smells like beeswax - probably not enough lemon - but I love the beeswax smell).
  4. After this hardened and I wasn't happy with it, I remelted the whole thing,
  5. I added 1 T of cocoa butter and 1 tsp. lanolin.
  6. I cooled it until it was beginning to solidify.
  7. I put the whole mix in the blender and ran it on "puree" for about 10 minutes.
  8. I then let the mix cool for about an hour in the blender jar and turned the blender on to "puree" about every 10 minutes for about a minute's duration.

    What a mess this made! I gave my daughter who came to dinner a jar to take home with her. I am out of containers (ordered more from Majestic Mountain Sage last week) so I put the remaining lotion in a tupperware container. I believe this recipe would make about 1 dozen 2 oz jars. I filled eight jars and the 8 ounce Tupperware container.
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  1. Anonymous2:02 AM

    I'm so glad I found your blog! i had tried to make a lotion recipe following the directions but it seperated on me! i have no luck with blenders. so after melting down, I got out my hand mixer with balloon whip attachment and treated it as if it was a batch of mayonnaise. What do you know...it worked! I had some lovely hand cream (it is kinda greasy but feels good) that doesn't make my skin itch! and no harsh chemicals! Happy lotioning!

  2. Anonymous2:16 PM

    I know this is going back in time for you Linda, but I am not in the process of trying to make hand lotions with my beeswax. Same problem of it coming out like a candle and it does this with every recipe I try even when I cut the beeswax amount down.

    I want to use my blender like you did, but I wonder how in the heck did you clean the blender afterwards?? This worries me as I would be afraid to place into my dishwasher for fear of clogging up the drains.

    Thanks for any advice
    Annette from Placerville California

  3. Anonymous2:18 PM

    Oops!! I meant I am "now" in the process. Sorry

  4. Hi Annette, I bought an extra blender on E-Bay so I wouldn't ruin my good one. I poured the liquid into the blender container and about 10 minutes later, turned it on for a few seconds. I then waited another 10 minutes and did that again and on and on until I had the consistency that I wanted and it was cool.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Anonymous6:56 PM

    well you thought yours made a mess...my glass pyrex busted under the heat of the water. all the oils went into the water and it was RUINED. i'll try again...as soon as i get more olive oil. haha

  7. where did you buy Lanolin and bees wax? I searched at Trader Joe's and at Whole foods. Could not find anhydrous Lanoline.

  8. Anonymous12:45 AM

    By the way, I love your blog. I have came across it many times.

    I just tried two recipes. the first used Lanolin. Gross stuff to be honest. Smells nasty and is hard to remove from my hands. They still smell.

    I tried another recipe, tweaking it a litte (i am a chef by trade). So far so good.

    I hope all is well and your bees are well too. I love bees and beekeeping and cooking.

    Oh, I forgot to add, use a stick blender. They are cheap.

    Fee lfree to come over and check out our new web site. It is growing.


    Take care,

    Chef Isaac
    Sweet as can BEE Honey Farm

  9. Anonymous8:23 PM

    I know this is an old post, but I got here by googling the backyard beekeeper recipe, because my first try ended up just like yours, and maybe I can help someone else. I am pretty convinced that they left out that you need to add AT LEAST three cups of water. I remelted my first try and added three cups of warm distilled water, and then mixed with my stick blender. Even then I got something more like body butter, but at least it was usable. I think it is a decent base recipe, but I will add even more water next time, plus as natural a preservative as I can find.

  10. Jen Haley8:10 PM

    Thank you for sharing your efforts with lotion! I started with the same recipe, I think, from the Backyard Beekeeper book. :)

    I make lotion and balm for my family and me due to severe allergies. I started selling some after people really pestered me to do so.

    Some tips I have discovered over the past couple years of trial and error:

    ~Weighing is better than volume measurements.
    ~For a natural preservative try using a couple drops of grapefruit extract.
    ~To prevent separation of the oils, I mix with the hand mixer until the oils are room temperature.
    ~If you are mixing distilled water into the oils, try heating the water before adding it to the oil. Sometimes I use a gram of borax to the water first, dissolving it, before adding to the oils. This really does help prevrnt separation.
    ~Start mixing on LOW speed (I use a hand mixer with the whisk beaters) scraping with a spatula often, building up to the highest speed until the batch reaches room temperature before spooning into the containers.
    ~Using something closer to a double boiler is better to keep the oils from getting too hot or overcooking. Having the pan/dish holding the oils sitting directly on the heat source, even though it is in a water bath, could still overheat the oils, making the efficacy or "good benefits" of the oils worthless. Some oils do not mind, like coconut oil. However, oils like wheat germ already have a very short shelf life, and heating them too much ruins it.
    ~Coconut oil can actually be drying to the skin. Try another oil that is semi-solid at room temperature, like shea butter or cocoa butter. It'll add to the great smell of the lotion! :)

    I love the whole process of weighing and mixing, trying different consistencies and scents...

  11. I've been having great success with making body butter lately. I use a double boiler to melt the beeswax and oils together. I use sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, avacado butter and or shea butter. Any or all combinations seem to work. Then I beat it all together using a hand mixer. While it cools I scrape down the sides until it's all creamed together. (about 10 or 15 minutes). Then I add whatever essential oils I want to use (lately I've been using Honey Pear, it's delicious!) This has been working great. I got all my supplies from The Sage online. I tried making hand lotion with distilled water in it but had trouble with separation. The body butter melts in your hand and is fabulous. I also use a recipe from The Sage. They have several on their website. People have been buying this and asking for more!

  12. New beekeeper here, but I've been a soap maker for almost 20 years. I found you on beesource and have spent my afternoon enjoying you blog. What you made in your first attempt is what I've been calling hard lotion. No whipping, just mold in mini muffin tin and it pops right out after a few minutes in the freezer. Keep in a pretty little cut glass container on the counter and rub between your hands when needed. -Carol

  13. Thanks for the kind words - hope you are enjoying the blog.


  14. Anonymous2:05 PM

    hi. I'm looking for a recipe for a lotion to vy with one I used to buy from a beekeeper who I lost contact with. I want to make some for Christmas and share. I'm looking for a consistency that is fairly thick and feels waxy on the skin rather than greasy but melts in too. I don't want to use cocoa or shea butter as they make my sister come out in a rash. I'm looking at beeswax, sweet almond oil and argan oil as my main ingredients. A beeswaxy smell is great. Can anyone advise?

  15. Wow! Making lotion! That is so ambitious! I'll have to try this one day!


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