The term "obsession" might be the best way to describe how I felt about DIY projects while in college. As if homework, activities, and friends (and, okay, Netflix) didn't keep me busy enough, I also tried my hand at making anything I could: candles, soap, granola, ricotta, sweaters. In case the contents of that list has you wondering: nope, I did not go to college in the 1800s. This was 2012. In a city.
Though soapmaking may best be left to the experts, there's still satisfaction to be found in being able to make what you need to by hand. And, if you're hoping to be zero waste, on occasion you'll need to get down and dirty with your maker soul.
Lip balm is something that you can't purchase package-free, but you can make your own and store it in glass jars that you'll use again and again. It's easy to make, and uses only natural and nontoxic ingredients. Here's how to make your own...
A few specks the herbs I used in this batch made it into the finished product, as you can see in this nearly-empty jar!
ZERO WASTE LIP BALM
Supplies you'll need: a double boiler (a small metal pot set over a larger one), several glass jars or small metal tins, a knife, a bar of beeswax (which you can most likely purchase at a beekeeper's stand at your farmers' market), olive oil, and dried herbs of your choice (Lavender, chamomile, or mint would be lovely).
A note about supplies: Once you use your double boiler and knife with the beeswax, the wax will leave a residue, so you shouldn't cook with them again. I suggest purchasing a set of used implements from the thrift store and reserving them for this purpose, rather than using your nice kitchenware.
+Clean and dry your jars thoroughly. Set them aside a few feet from the stove, with their lids off.
+Combine a quarter cup of herbs and a cup of olive oil on the stove over low heat. Stir for 10 to 15 minutes, never letting it get hot enough to sizzle, bubble, or smoke. The idea is to gently infuse the oil with lots of herby goodness. Once the oil is fragrant, take it off the heat, let it cool a bit, and then strain the herbs out--you're done with these, so place them aside to compost. Set the olive oil aside, too, to use in the next step.
+Set up your double boiler with a little water boiling in the bottom pan. Add about a cup of chopped beeswax to the top pan, and let it melt very slowly over low heat. When no solid pieces of wax remain, gently stir in the olive oil. Once the mixture is homogeneous, turn off the heat.
+Working quickly and carefully, pour the hot mixture into your waiting jars. When it's cool to the touch and has firmed up, it'll be ready to use!
Next time you make this, adjust the proportions of oil and wax to suit your preferences--more olive oil makes a softer balm, while more beeswax makes a firmer balm. You can increase the amount of herbs you use, or vary them depending on what's in season. I also use the balm on my hands and face when they get really dry. Hope you like it too.
+Go Litterless is a series of posts in which I offer simple tips to help you reduce the amount of trash you make.