Homemade gifts are a hard nut to crack. Crafty folks like me love to give them, but they have to be composed of equal parts love and efficiency. It’s not practical to make something that takes a whole day to create when there is a 50% chance the item will end up getting tossed by the recipient (Hello crochet scarf I later found at Goodwill on MLK Day 2002!).
The item in question needs to be thoughtful. One-of-a-kind. My usual fall back used to be cookies, but now with this gluten-free rampage taking America in it’s icy clutch, I thought it would be nice to move onto something more practical and useful this time of year: winter hand salve.
If you have crazy dry hands like mine, you know a half-pound of good quality hand salve can cost $30 (or more!) which is a crime when you can make 5-10 of these babies for that same price. And you can smell ’em up good and wrap them up cute.
Yo, that’s impressive.
And, best of all, this is good stuff. This is better than anything you can buy down at the pharmacy. It’s an awesome gift! Between Michael’s and your local grocery store (very likely in your pantry already) you’ll find all the ingredients (and the containers). BAM. What’s not to like? Oh yeah. Dry hands. Sorry folks – we’re working on it!
2 cups of Olive Oil
1 cup of coconut oil
1 cup of beeswax (buy the pellets or cut off a hunk and dice with a knife)
30 drops of essential oil of choice*
1 extra large glass jar, or a heat-safe disposable canister (an empty coffee can works great)
8 small jars (I found these magnetized spice jars at the checkout counter at Michaels (they come in nifty colors too!) but you can buy larger smaller pots depending on how many gifts you want to make.
*A note about adding smells. Here I am using orange because that’s universally popular, but my favorite is to combine lemon and vanilla (smells like lemon bars!) or to use scents from the menthol/peppermint family to aid winter congestion)…or just leave it plain. It’s good stuff as is. Only thing I suggest is to stay away from cinnamon oils, which can be very Christmasy smelling but are extremely irritating on your skin.
The only part of this project that I found a little difficult was cutting the beeswax. If you are smart, zap your block of beeswax in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up. Or pull out the cheese shredder and go to town. The only reason I’m including a photo of me shredding with a knife is to say DON’T DO THAT. Cool? Cool.
Create a bain-marie by filling a pot with water and bringing it to a simmer. In a large glass jar (Heads up: I’m working on a half-batch here – if you do a full batch, you’ll want something like a 32oz jar) add the two oils and wax. Set the jar in the middle of the pot of water, making sure the water comes at least halfway up the sides, and stir. Leave it alone and stir again in a few minutes. In 5 to 10 minutes it will all melt into one smooth mixture, which is when you add your smells. The fun part!
Carefully pour the liquid into your pots, being careful not to get it on the outside.
Then let it sit for a couple hours. You can speed the process up in the fridge, but I’d cover with plastic wrap VERY WELL to prevent a smell exchange.
These look great all by themselves in the tin, or you can wrap a band of decorative paper and wash tape around the circumference. And if you want to deliver in style, grab some cellophane bags, a little tissue shred and some leopard ribbon to complete the outfit. Nothing says Christmas like leopard!
These hand salve pots are easy to customize and make in bulk. As gifts for others, or as a gift to yourself. Merry Christmas!
And while we are on the topic of gift-giving, see the homemade goodies some of the other Michael’s Makers are giving to their friends and family this Christmas.
I love to rescue crocheted cast off’s from thrift stores, but boo to whoever donated your handmade scarf to goodwill. That is why I only gift my own crocheted creations to people I know will appreciate the work that went into creating them. Retroactive hugs for finding that in 2002.
No, it’s not them. In retrospect I ought to have realized that it was a poorly suited gift for that person. Since then, I worked with a woman who gave me a hand knit scarf, then proceeded to get offended every time I came through the door wearing another scarf. You can’t win! Handmade goods put a lot of pressure on the recipient, so I try o stick to stuff that is semi-practical, and does not take so much time or money to make that I would be offended if they toss it soon as my back is turned. Low expectations are a good thing 😉
Deb in Oklahoma
Who doesn’t love soft hands? This is a great idea! You might try using a serrated bread knife to cut the wax. It works great on large hunks of chocolate (like Baker’s), so I think it would be worth trying on the wax. It will shave it into fast-melting shards.
Omg! This stuff looks divine! As a wheelchair user I use this stuff all year, but winters especially rough on my hands. I’m DEFINITELY making some for me, never mind anyone else!!
That pains me to hear about you finding your handmade scarf in Goodwill. 🙁 Hope you bought it. Thanks for the wonderful ideas I find on your blog!
Know what you mean about giving handmade gifts! I try to buy them when I see the at the thrift stores…especially handmade Christmas items…we call it “rescue”. Great recipe, Peaches! You are definitely my very cool adopted aunt!!
Question: Could you use safflower or sunflower oil in lieu of the olive oil?
I have never tried it, but I don’t see why not. 🙂
I was wondering what sort of olive oil are you using? is it extra virgin? I ask because it can often be expensive and has a scent.
I use extra virgin because it’s what is in my kitchen. I don’t think the scent isn’t strong enough to throw off the essential oils, but if you want to use regular olive oil, I think their moisturizing abilities (for this purpose) is the same.
I found some lemon Infused EVOO. Could that be used in lieu of the coconut oil?
Coconut oil has solidifying properties (it’s sort of like Crisco — it comes solid). You could certainly try it, but I suspect all-olive oil will be too liquid.
I see, you were using the SOLID coconut oil. My grocery had liquid and solid, so I was not sure which to get. I will pop out to get that. The lemon EVOO sounded good. I will let you know how this turns out…
Huh? I didn;t even know coconut oil came in solid. I’ll have to look for that! Either way, good luck 🙂
Thank you so much for posting this! I just cranked out 8 batches and am going to sell them for a fund raiser for my son’s preschool. It’s so easy to make and smells amazing. I know what everyone I know is getting for Christmas/Chanukah!
Yay!! Glad to hear it. I just made another batch on Friday and I used a few drops of tea tree oil as the scent — does wonders on my headache. I may have to revisit this one again!
Wow! They were a hit with the preschool Mommies. I sold out and made a good chunk of change for the school. I’m definitely going to revisit this one and explore different scents. Thanks again, Aunt Peaches, you are the best.
I love this and thank you for sharing. Just wanted to ask, I saw a big block of beeswax in the Hobby Lobby in the candle making section and was wondering if I can use that? I’ve never used beeswax but not sure if beeswax is beeswax. Lol Thanks again for the recipe. Can’t wait to make some!
Yes, any big block of beeswax will do the job. Just make sure the only ingredient is “beeswax.”
How long does it last? Does it “spoil” or go bad or anything?
Anything organic will eventually spoil, but I’m 6 months on and it looks good. Hope that helps!
Hi there Aunt Peaches! Am wondering if there are any possible substitutes for beeswax due to possible allergies. I heart your site–thanks!
Hey Jenny! I have never tried without beeswax — it’s the ingredient that hardens the best. Stiffens up the stuff into a “balm” texture. You could certainly swap it for coconut oil — it also firms up nice. Worth a try for sure — and if you do, let me know how it turns out!
I’ve substituted soy wax for beeswax to make my balms vegan and found that soy works really well! You could also try carnauba wax.
I just wanted to say thanks for posting this “recipe”. I made a batch of this for my female family members as a token gift for Christmas. We said no presents but everyone likes to open something, right?
Everyone LOVED IT! It was a total hit! My aunt & cousins work in hospitals and even their coworkers love it. It was so popular I had to make a second batch to ship up!
So thanks, I was a little hesitant in making this but it worked out FANTASTIC!
Liz, I’m so glad to hear this. And thanks for letting me know how it came out. Sometimes I worry my recipes don’t cross the divide. Made my day, thanks!
Hi, I was wondering how much did you pay for the containers?
I believe $1.29 — you’ll find them in the bins near the checkout counter at Michaels.
Can I use beeswax with honey in it.thank Debbie
Hi there! I randomly came across your blog and am so happy I did! I love your writing style, I feel like we’d be friends in real life 😉 Thanks for this post, very simple and so cute! I love the floral style washi tape you used beneath the black and white! Can’t wait to make these little gems for Christmas gifts!
Thanks Denise! Happy to have you here 🙂
Could you use something other then coconut oil ? Some are allergic to it ,or another recipe please
I have made your home made hand salve in peppermint and lavender. I want to try making it with lemon and vanilla. How much do you recommend using of each and do you use vanilla extract. Also, I am wondering what the shelf life of this salve is. So far my friends and family love it!