Great friends are the Bees Knees

I had a GREAT first day of the year. I got to hang out with a really amazing friend when we took the kids to the park. And I’ll say, a breezy 77 isn’t too shabby! We watched our kids play on the jungle gym, and Jes is amazing, she was often up there helping the little climb to places otherwise reserved for the biggies. Between the two of us, we have kiddos ranging from 2 to I believe 9. So we have quite a range!

I can’t say enough how amazing of a mom, wife, and friend she is. So I was so excited to be able to give her a small belated Christmas present I made this year – a lemon balm lotion bar! Looking back on this, I realized her gift was a year in the making along with the other beeswax based gifts I made for several neighbors and friends.

Lemon Balm Infused Oil

Last January I planted Lemon Balm in my food forest. Being a mint, it can be prolific and very tolerable of our really mild Florida winter conditions.

My baby lemon balm plant

Lemon Balm does NOT tolerate the oppressive Florida heat though come summer time. So before the heat finally set in, I took to harvesting what I could of it. I found myself with quite the bounty around April/May timeframe.

One of my favorite things to do with fresh herbs is to make an infused oil— I save all my spaghetti jars just for this! Take an empty glass jar with a lid, fill it with fresh or dry herbs. For Lemon Balm, the oils are most obtainable when using fresh wilted herbs. Fill it to the top, making sure the herbs are all covered, with the oil of your choice. For this I used olive oil, but you can use avocado oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, etc. I do stay away from vegetable and canola oil. Once you’ve filled it up, close the lid tightly and forget about it in a dark cabinet for awhile, except to give it the occasional shake! A few months later you’ll have a nice infused oil!

I have been itching to use my beautifully infused lemon balm oil. I will admit, Lemon balm is more traditionally used in tea and salads because it’s benefits are best received when fresh, but mine came out with this gorgeous sediment in the oil from the plant particles even after I filtered it through cheesecloth. I could have used this infused oil for a dressing base but it was just so pretty I wanted to get it into some skin care products!

Making homemade beeswax based gifts

This year for Christmas I wanted to support small businesses as much as I could. At some point during the year I came across an add for Gardner Bees. I looked at their catalog online and their prices for wax just couldn’t be beat. Come Thanksgiving, I ordered 3lbs of the organic wax and two honey sampler sets. Let me tell you… hands down the BEST beeswax I have ever used. It still smelled sweet as if still in the hive with honey. It was sticky and thick, a beautiful golden color wax.

On December 23rd I finally had my opportunity to turn my wax and oils into gifts for friends. I ended up with the following products out of my 3lbs of beeswax and jar of lemon balm oil:

  • 2 natural beeswax candles
  • 3 green prosperity candles (green wax dye added)
  • 4 lotion bars (with the lemon balm oil)

Let’s talk tools and process…

I have tools just for working with beeswax. It doesn’t matter what kind, where you got it from, whether it’s bricks, cones, etc. It is wax. It will turn to liquid and then harden on anything it lands on. It is water resistant. It is thick and hard, and well, waxy. I highly suggest hitting up your local second hand store and finding the following tools:

  • An old cookie tray
  • A big metal spoon
  • A big glass bowl
  • A grater
  • Either a double broiler OR, for years I used a four cup Pyrex measuring cup that fit right into my pot I would heat water in
  • Your other option is a tall candle wax pourer made from metal- this is what I used this year.
  • A pot for water
  • Wicks and tabs
  • Candle wick positioner (I wish I had had more than one)
  • Glass jars or containers for the candles
  • Yogurt or applesauce cups (cleaned out!) for the lotion bars
  • Any additives! For for some of the lotion bars I used dried lemon balm for decoration, and for the prosperity candles I used herbs from my garden, bay leaves, and heat tolerant crystals from Dino world! NOTE: Not all crystals are safe when heated, please do your research before adding anything to your candle!

Natural Beeswax Candles and Lotion Bars

To get started I set the stove heat to medium. I filled the bottom of the pot with water, and set my container I was going to melt the beeswax in. On the side I started to grate the wax— the smaller the wax pieces, are the faster it will melt. I’ll be honest- the juice didn’t end up worth the squeeze for me! By the end I was putting the 1lb cone directly in the wax melting vessel and letting it take its slow time to melt, just to save my bicep.

While the wax is melting (again, not the fastest process… but don’t fret! It will melt) I lined up my containers on my crappy cookie tray to attempt to protect my stove. Last thing I wanted was a beeswax spill on my stove!

I only had one wick positioner, so I did have to get creative by wrapping the wick around a colored pencil for my second natural candle. Something to note, this was about 1.75lbs of wax that I used for the two candles and 4 lotion bars.

So if you’re following along with the pictures, once the wax is melted, pour it into your containers. What I didn’t accurately capture with the pictures, is it takes some time for the wax to harden. It really does. You have to leave the wick positioner in place until you can see it has turned from liquid to semi sold and has a cast on top. Otherwise your wick will fall from center toward the side. I bet a crooked wick would be as bad as a crooked… well you get the point.

Ok so check out those back containers! Those are my lotion bars! These were way easier than I expected!

Once I had filled up the first two natural candles, I wanted to do the lotion bars… I added the entire jar of oil to the remaining wax. I know I’m not being specific here— I did not measure anything! Gah! So embarrassing. But you’re going for about 1 part beeswax to 2 parts oil or butter. I will tell you— I think mine came out closer to 1:1 ratio. My lotion bar is still super waxy and hard to get rubbed in. That in and of itself makes it good for specific applications (think cuticle balm or packing over a crack in the skin). Feel free to experiment here!!! Had I had coconut oil I would have added that as well, same with Shea butter.

To test if you have the right consistency, you can take some from the spoon and get a drop on your finger, let it cool and get semi-solid, rub it between your fingers. If it’s slicker than goose shit, you can add more beeswax. If it’s like rubbing your fingers across a candle, add more oil. Again, there isn’t a precise science to this, play around!!

If you’re adding any dry herbs to your lotion bars, you have two options: on the top or throughout. I preferred on the top

So this felt obvious after I messed it up… pour a thin layer of the wax/oil mixture in the bottom of your yogurt container. Sprinkle your dried herbs (I used dried lemon balm, but lavender is also super popular) into the wax as it’s cooling. This will grab it in place. THEN pour in the remaining wax. If you just have the herbs in the bottom and pour in the wax you’ll end up with herbs throughout. Which also is cool! Again, just experiment!

We’re not done… Prosperity Candles!

Did you ask “what’s a prosperity candle?”?! Yay! I’m so glad you did. A prosperity candle is one I’ve made that is full of intention for the person burning it to have a prosperous year or journey ahead. I have included things that symbolize wealth, abundance, and protection in the candle to fill it with purpose! When the receiver burns this candle, they can receive my good intentions and energy for them as well as infuse the candle with their own. At minimum, they’re pretty and I hope make my friends smile.

What’s in my prosperity candles?

  • The color green for wealth
  • A bay leaf with a written intention on it for the receiver
  • Cinnamon basil to fire their passions
  • Spearmint to attract money and abundance, and for prolific bounty (just like my lemon balm!)
  • Rosemary to protect them on their journey
  • Amethyst to raise their intuition
  • Quartz to create balance

The candle making process is the same as before, but I did save these for last because of the dye- I didn’t want residual green in my natural candles.

Heat up your wax- but this time, add a chunk of green wax dye to your melting wax. I got this at Joann fabrics with a coupon.

Once the wax is melted, you can pour it into your wick positioned and ready container. For this one, I had a tea cup I wanted to use for one of my friends so I’ll show you that.

When in doubt, just jam the herbs into the wax 😂

Now learn this lesson from me friends— crystals are denser than liquid beeswax- if you do as I did and put them in too early, they’ll plop to the bottom. Which that’s ok! “SURPRISE!” By the time they get to the bottom of the candle. But if you want those cutesty crystal adornments to sit at the top with your herbs, you have to wait until the wax is partially hardened. If you also do like me and wait too long, just take a lighter to it and heat up the top of the wax and jam those crystals in there. My patience didn’t afford me the right timing of exactly when or how you should add your herbs or crystals, but my most scientific answer would be “when they float and don’t sink.”

One more lesson to share! Fresh herbs aren’t really the way to go with these candles— I’d do dry herbs. 1) so they don’t for some weird reason risk molding and 2) they won’t discolor. I was at the mercy of my own procrastination and I think they still came out really pretty but I will use dry next time!

Tell us your favorite gifts to make for friends!

I’d love to hear what you like to make for your friends! Or do you have a favorite salve or beeswax recipe you enjoy most??

Share in the comments below and don’t forget to hit “Like” to get more from me, A Millenial Hippie!