You have probably seen massage melts or lotion bars for sale in tins at gift shops or been gifted with one. They are not new, but they are worth making to sooth winter dry skin issues, and good to have on hand. Know they are very easy to make. Because they are formulated to stay solid at room temperature, when you hold one in your hand, or rub it on your skin, the warmth from your hand will melt just enough to massage into your skin.
You’ll need a small soap mold, a plastic ice-cube tray, or similar multi compartment plastic container to use for a mold.
You can use different oils and solid butters, cut the recipe in half or double it, if you keep the same basic ratios of oils to solids. I have tried shea or mango butter instead of the cocoa butter, but this recipe is the one my skin likes the best. Everyone’s skin is different, so making different combinations is the surest way to find your favorite.
If you don’t use beeswax, you could try Candelilla wax, but the finished consistency of the bar might be different. You might have to play with the ratios a bit to achieve the same consistency. The following recipe will produce 5 (2 oz) massage melts. I often double the batch as they make great gifts.
For an especially lovely skin treat, use herbal infused oil for the liquid oil component.
Part of my recipe was inspired by a recipe from the Mountain Rose Herbs newsletter. They suggested cocoa butter, and that just did it for me. The slight chocolate scent comes through beautifully in the herb infused oil. I weigh the first three ingredients on a scale to make sure the amounts are correct.
3 oz. Beeswax
3 oz. Herbal infused Jojoba oil
3 oz. Cocoa butter
About a tsp. of Lavender essential oil
Herbal infused oil can be made by several methods, but for a small project like this, I often use a small (1-2 quart) crock pot on the lowest setting to hurry the process up.
First, select the herbs you will use to enrich the oil. I have chosen dried Lavender, Rose Attar Geranium leaves and Rose rugosa petals. Measure about 2 Tablespoons of each herb into the bowl. For a little touch of magic inspiration, I like to portion out the herbs in this sweet little nature bowl. It just makes me happy to see the sun, moon and bugs parading around the bowl.
Crumble the herbs with your fingers while mixing them together, then place them in the crock pot. Cover with the Jojoba oil. Turn heat to low but do not cover. Monitor the temperature of the oil with a thermometer, and don’t let it exceed 115 degrees. Once the oil registers 105 degrees, turn off the pot as the sides of the pot are sure to be even hotter. Place the lid on the pot to hold in the heat as long as possible. Repeat 3 or 4 times. Leave covered, in the pot overnight. In the morning your oil will be sweetly scented and infused with the properties of the herbs.
Next, strain the infused oil by placing the herbs and oil in a mesh strainer, pressing the herbs with a spoon to release as much infused oil as possible. Allow gravity to help and don’t rush the process. I forgot to take a picture of the straining phase, sorry!
Place beeswax, infused oil and cocoa butter in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup on a rack inside a 2 qt. saucepan. Add water to equal the depth of the oils you are melting. Set burner to lowest setting and check it frequently. (I use a small stainless rack I saved from a rice cooker that died). You can also set the measuring cup on a canning jar screw band inside the saucepan to use as a rack. It is a little less stable than the rack, but it works. Use a chopstick or wooden cake tester to stir the mixture now and then as it melts.
While the ingredients are melting, locate your mold and place it on a cookie sheet or freezer paper. It can be a little messy if you spill the hot oil or wax when you are ladling or pouring it into the molds. The mixture won’t melt completely till the oils reach a temp of about 155-160. Beeswax takes the longest, so plan for about 25-30 minutes.
One the beeswax has melted and the oils appear clear, turn off the burner. Allow to cool to 140 before stirring in essential oil. I added 1 tsp. Of Lavender and 1/2 tsp. of Geranium essential oil to this batch.
If you have a small stainless steel ladle, know that I much prefer using a ladle to trying to pour the oils from the cup. In either case, work quickly as the mixture will start thicken up fast. Once it does, it gets gloppy and won’t pour. One can always melt it again, but I prefer to avoid that hassle.
Allow the massage melts to set undisturbed for at least two hours to cool and firm up. Silicone molds will release easily. Just turn them upside down and give the mold a slight twist. Other plastics generally release easily. If not, just pop the whole mold tray in the freezer for about 20 minutes and they will just fall out. It won’t hurt them a bit.
Store the melts at room temperature. They will scratch or fingerprint easily, so I wear nylon gloves to handle them. I store them in a jar in my apothecary cabinet so they are handy.
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