Making Beeswax Products
The BeeHolder, January 2012
At the evening meeting on October 20th at Plas Dolerw Jane Frank and Michelle Boudin gave an interesting workshop in using honey and beeswax in simple home made skin care products.
Michelle started off the evening demonstrating a simple ointment. An ointment (also known as salve or balm) is a water free mixture of beeswax and oil which can be scented with essential oils. Prior to the meeting Michelle had soaked dried horsetail leaves in olive oil which was gently heated to infuse the ingredients. The oil is then strained and leaves discarded Horsetail is very high in silica and potassium and strengthens the skin, hair and connective tissue. At the meeting the olive oil infused with horsetail was placed in a double boiler with beeswax and shea butter. This was gently heated to melt the ingredients together, then allowed to cool slightly before benzoin and some lavender essential oils were added. These also have skin healing properties. The ointment is the allowed to cool slightly then poured into jars and left to cool further. If the mixture is too soft once completely cooled, it can be re-melted and more beeswax added to create a firmer consistency. To make Comfrey ointment replace the horsetail with Comfrey leaves, Marigold petals can be used to make a calendula ointment. Lip balms are made in the same way. Ointments do not need preservatives because they contains no water.
Jane then demonstrated how to make a beeswax and honey soap. Soap is made by combining lye (caustic soda) with oil. Jane used Pomace olive oil mixed with coconut oil, sweet almond oil and castor oil which was melted together in a double boiler. In a separate bowl spring water is mixed with honey and the lye added, this heats up in a dramatic bubbling fashion and changes colour. When the water and oil are at the same temperature (about 70°C), the water mixture is added to the oil and mixed together with a hand blender until 'trace' is achieved. Trace is technical term in soap making and may take 20 minutes or so. If trace is not achieved the soap has to be discarded. Any colours or essential oils are added at the trace stage. The soap is then poured into a mould, wrapped up in towels and left for 24 hours when it goes through an interesting jelly like translucent phase before setting hard. After 24 hours it can then be turned out but must be stored for at least 4 weeks to cure (for the caustic soda to neutralise). The soap is then ready to use.
Jane also demonstrated making a simple moisturising cream using honey. This is a two stage process where sweet almond oil and beeswax is melted together in a double boiler, and water and honey is heated in another. When they are at 75 to 80°C the water is added to the fat mixture whilst whisking continuously for at least 5 minutes. As it cools the mixture thickens to a cream like consistency. When the cream falls below 35°C other ingredients can be added such as preservatives, active ingredients such as vitamin E and essential oils.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and provides a protective barrier against the outside world. However it is highly absorbent (which is why nicotine patches work) so we must be careful what we apply to our skin. All three recipes are simple and demonstrate how easy it to make your own products without the need for harsh chemicals (such as sodium lauryl sulphate and parabens) commonly found in skincare products.
Jane's soaps and creams can be bought from her website.