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Main Content

Homemade Lotion Bars

By Jodi Helmer

When Marilyn Schendel stumbled across an online message board for novice soap-makers, she was intrigued.

“I’d never thought about making my own soap,” she says.

After reading about the process, she ordered a soap-making kit and started making soap in the kitchen of her Winston-Salem, N.C., home. That was almost 20 years ago.

Since then, Marilyn has become an expert, expanding her product line to include soaps and lotion bars, which look like soap but are applied like moisturizer. She sells them through her business, Ritual Waters, and teaches others how to make their own natural bath and beauty products.

Do-it-yourself lotion bars are ideal for anyone looking to use more natural products, create handmade gifts for the holidays, or embrace a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

And using essential oils allows you to personalize your lotion bars. Marilyn, for example, prefers such scents as lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, and spearmint.

Mixing scents is okay, but test the combination first by putting few drops of each scent on a single cotton ball and sealing it in a plastic bag. Let it sit for a few hours; open the bag and breathe in the scent. If you like the smell, use the scents in the lotion bar.

Mixing scents without testing can lead to unpleasant combinations and ruin the batch of lotion bars, she cautions.

Remember to read warning labels on essential oils; some oils, such as orange and lime, could irritate the skin and others shouldn’t be used if you have certain health conditions. Sage, for example, shouldn’t be used during pregnancy.

Using a lotion bar is as simple as rubbing the bar across your skin. For a light application, rub lightly; for extra moisturizing, rub more vigorously.

Marilyn has just one warning about making lotion bars: It’s addictive.

“It’s really easy and a lot of fun,” she says. “Once you get started, you won’t want to stop experimenting with different scents and molds; there is no end to how creative you can be.”

Below, Marilyn shares step-by-step instructions for making lotion bars at home:

Homemade Lotion Bars - Step by Step

  • Finished Product

  • Supplies:
    8 oz. beeswax
    8 oz. cocoa butter (either natural/unrefined or refined/bleached/deodorized can be used in lotion bars)
    8 oz. fractionated coconut oil
    2 tsp. essential oil(s)
    Plastic molds or push-up or deodorant containers
    Digital scale
    Heat-safe glass measuring cup
    Latex gloves

  • Tools

  • 1. Wearing latex gloves, weigh out the correct weights of beeswax, cocoa butter, and coconut oil using a digital scale; put all three ingredients into a heat-safe glass measuring cup.

  • 2. Using a microwave oven, melt the ingredients in one-minute bursts, stirring between heat cycles, until all ingredients are melted. Be careful removing the measuring cup from the microwave as the glass will be hot. (You can also heat the ingredients in a pan on the stovetop; keep the element on low heat, stirring occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted).

  • 3. Allow the melted ingredients to cool down to 140 degrees. Use the digital thermometer to test the temperature.

  • Measure out the essential oil(s) and add to the melted ingredients, mixing the ingredients together with a spoon.

  • Pour the mixture into the mold or containers and let the bars cool until solid and firm. It will take several hours; removing them too soon could cause the bars to break.

  • Once the bars are fully cooled, remove them from the mold. Store them in a cool place away from heat sources.