Formulating Question about Emulsifying Beeswax in Lip Balm

Q:

“Dear ANB Experts,



Thank you for providing a great platform esp. for noobs like me.


I am currently stuck in a failed DIY beeswax lip balm/chap-stick experiment of mine and would really appreciate if anyone can lend a hand here.


OK. I tried adding water into it. I know..it’s kinda dumb, but there is a certain ingredient that I never am able to find an oil version of it…so it had to be dissolved in water.


I thought it would be easy coz many said that beeswax can also act as an emulsifier. So my ratio goes like this 1 beeswax : 3 oil (where 1/3 of this oil ratio is the water part). I melted the beeswax, then added the water to emulsify it and the oil lastly…and kept stirring it the throughout the process. What I noticed was that no matter how i stir (in a warm condition), there’s still minuscule droplets of bubble in it. I should assume those bubbles are undissolved water?


Anyway, feeling disappointed I threw them all away. The only thing I count myself lucky in this experiment was that I only did a 10ml experiment which basically amounted to 2 lip balm tubes.


I’m thinking of adding soy lecithin and/or borax (which I found out just now)..but so far all the info is towards making cream. So what’s your thought on HOW and WHAT RATIO to use those in creating a beeswax lip balm / chap-stick?”


Additional Info Asked for: “My oils were olive and hemp (mixed) and the powder is water soluble only (msm powder)..so far don’t think it can be dissolved in oil.


So only these oil , beeswax, water-soluble (msm powder) nothing else.


I did not not specifically note the temperature, but water was room temperature and was added to the melted beeswax (in a double boiler) after the heat was off, say 5 minutes. Then lastly the oil. The oils were out of refrigerator and cooled for 1/2 hour plus, before i added it into the mixture.


Thanks again, Experts, and would greatly appreciate if anyone can help me with this soonest possible.


Rgds,
Kei Yee”

A:

Hi Kei Yee



Thanks for the question!


Since you want to add a small amount of water to your balm recipe, you are essentially making a cream. For natural products, a balm is usually made with fats (oils and butters) and a wax, and it does not contain water. A natural cream consists of fats, waxes and/or emulsifiers, water (or water rich ingredients), and a preservative. Both of these products may have additional additives like essential oils, herbs, antioxidants, and other actives. So your recipe is basically a cream for the lips!


Making a beeswax cream can be tricky since beeswax technically isn’t a true emulsifier. Having said that, many herbalists, aromatherapists, and natural skin care formulators make beeswax creams with no other added emulsifiers. It does take a while to get the technique down, but it is possible. However, beeswax creams don’t always have a stable emulsion so may separate over time. Many people add a little borax, since the combination of beeswax and borax creates an emulsifier. I personally wouldn’t use borax in a lip product though because it is not safe for ingestion.


I haven’t made a cream with msm powder yet so I am not sure if there are any special considerations when using this ingredient in a beeswax cream. From what I understand, make sure the msm powder is well dissolved in the distilled water (heat the water, then add it). I would start out with a low concentration of msm powder like 5% and work your way up if necessary.


But I can help you with cream crafting in general. In cream making, the oils need to be combined with the beeswax to create the ‘oil phase’. In addition, the oil phase and the water phase have to be at the same temperature. I think your cream may have separated because room temperature water was added to very warm beeswax, and then this was added to oils that may have been on the cool side. Basically you want to melt the beeswax and the oils together for the oil phase. Warm up the water phase to the same temperature (warm the water and dissolve the msm powder in it). Then take both of them off the heat, cool them slightly, and then blend the two phases together when still warm. I recommend using a mixer or blender to make creams. But for tiny amounts you could hand blend them, but it may take several minutes. When the cream cools a little, add essential oils, antioxidants, and a preservative.


If a cream separates you can try to re-emulsify it (use a mixer or blender), but that doesn’t always work. But even if a cream has separated you can still use it—it may not look pretty, and it may have a funny texture, but it still will work for your skin!


I’ve previously written extensive directions and a FAQ about making aromatherapy beeswax creams on my personal, non-business eco blog: http://solarkateco.blogspot.com/2005/10/how-to-make-your-own-aromatherapy.html


For lecithin: it is often used at ½% to 5% concentration in lotions and creams, though I’ve seen some crafters use a tad more.


Happy crafting!


Cheers,
Li Wong of Earth Alkemie

Li Wong ContributorPrivateContent
Owner , Expert Plant Alkemie
Li has over two decades of plant knowledge and experience! She is an aromatherapist (trained in clinical aromatherapy and advanced aromatic medicine), herbalist (trained in family, community, and clinical herbalism), natural perfumer, natural formulator, eco living writer, and environmental scientist/biologist.
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Li Wong ContributorPrivateContent
Owner , Expert Plant Alkemie
Li has over two decades of plant knowledge and experience! She is an aromatherapist (trained in clinical aromatherapy and advanced aromatic medicine), herbalist (trained in family, community, and clinical herbalism), natural perfumer, natural formulator, eco living writer, and environmental scientist/biologist.
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