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