Lip balm- First time and a disaster

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Apr 6, 2014
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Hi all,
I am looking for some wisdom here from people with experience.
I have been doing some research and decided on a combination for a lip balm- based on a number of recipes, I decided on 1.5 oz cocoa butter, 1 oz illipe butter, and 2 oz of jojoba. This is based on a recipe that had very good reviews, although I switched out the beeswax for the illipe (as I understand, illipe is a pretty hard butter and it was recommended for balms)

I have been hesitant- but without really any specific reason. Every site and book I read said that lip balm is easy peasy. So I dove in- have the stuff all measured, have my stove top set, and I have my tubes all bound together with rubber bands, waiting to be filled.

I put the tubes in a small metal measuring cup before I poured- the intention was to prevent the batch from falling over on the counter, but it actually served to catch all of the liquid that leaked out of the bottom of the tubes. :mad: I am so very disappointed at the moment. Not one source I looked at said anything about the possibility of a leak like that, and I am wondering what the heck I did wrong, Every tube except one leaked and I have a huge mess.

I was able to salvage some- when I realized what was going on I transferred what I could into tin trays with the slider lids (that were intended for something else entirely... :mad:again!). However, I have a fair bit in the bottom of my measuring cup, and I have 12 tubes that I am not sure what to do with. Can they be washed well enough to use again?

Sigh. The cosmos was telling me not to do this yet- I should have listened.

So, if anyone has any advice, suggestions on what went wrong- anything- I would appreciate it. I so wish my first recipe had been a better result.
I would make a recipe with beeswax. It sounds like your balm was too thin and too hot when it was poured, causing the leaking. So for your first batch I wouldn't be attempting to replax a wax with butters alone, especially not into tubes. If you really want to try messing with balms without wax as your first batches I recommend sticking with pots or tins.

Yes, the tubes can be washed and reused when its your own use. (I don't recommend washing/reusing and then gifting, though since your product leaked in this instance technically the tubes haven't been used yet) Your upside is since you didn't use beeswax, it will be easier to clean the tubes. You can wash them out by hand with hot soapy water and a brush that can fit into the tubes. If you don't have one, I recommend the double ended brushes for washing baby bottles. One side should be small enough (I think its for cleaning the nipples) to fit. After you've washed them, I'd sterilize (or close enough) them by boiling water, when it reaches a boil turn it off and pour it over the tubes. I've done this many times and I'd say as long as the water isn't still roaring/boiling when your pour it doesn't damage the tubes. Let them soak a bit, then air dry before using. I have to be extremely cheap for the products I make for my own use so I reuse the same tubes over and over again for personal use. If cleaning tubes that had beeswax, I'd recommend pouring the boiled water over the tubes and some dish soap, allow it to cool just enough to handle safely, and then clean with the bottle brush. The hot water melts the beeswax to clean the tubes, I've also cleaned tubes that I saved from commercial petroleum based lip balms and washed them in this method before filling with my own balm.
Thanks for the advice, Lin. I guess my research didn't quite go far enough- the mix is very soft, and has separated. Interesting to see what it does! And a learning experience, for certain.

Now, to wash my tubes....
I've only made lip balm a couple time but when I fill my tubes, I just put in a tiny bit a first to make sure there is no leakage. I generally melt my oils/wax in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave so I can easily reheat it if it gets too cool to pour.
I would not bother to wash the tubes. They weren't really used, after all. I would rub the outside with some rubbing alcohol to remove the oil from the outside of the tube, but I wouldn't worry about the small amount inside the tube.

If you don't have an objection to beeswax, you may be able to find some at Whole Foods or a Healthfood store. It will be pretty pricey, but if you just want an ounce to give this a try, rather than ordering a few pounds online, it's not that bad.
You can also purchase small amounts of beeswax from ebay or etsy, and support beekeepers selling the wax directly by doing so.

For what I'm picturing in the tubes I'd wash them before reusing so that it doesn't mess with the next batch you pour in. But depends on if they have any bits of solid oil/butter in them or just a sheen of oil.
I'm with the "don't wash as you did not technically use them" votes. I would have scraped all the balm up and back into the measuring cup(I use a Pyrex one also.) Then add beeswax or soy wax. Both are available online and at Michael's and Hobby Lobby locally for me. Kind of pricey, but will store well for a VERY long time.(years)

A lesson I learned the hard way, and I will save you the struggle, is to melt down the beeswax and pour it out in a thin layer, or drop it onto a foil lined pan in drops to make it easier to measure later. If you pour it into a layer, you can cool it and break it up, or tear it if it is slightly warm. This is so much easier than trying to grate it!

I do reuse my own lip balm tubes if it is just for me. I scrape out all the balm, remove and clean the little disc. Then cotton swabs with a really good degreaser to clean the tubes. I run them through the dishwasher to doubly ensure sanitation. Once it is all dry, spray with rubbing alcohol and allow to completely air dry(or you can use a hair dryer set on cool if you are in a hurry.)
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I highly recommend you add some beeswax to your recipe as well. I melt it in the microwave and then add my other butters and oils. Be sure not to pour when too hot or you could melt your tubes. I would just wipe down the outside of your tubes really well since it's just for your and then pour your new balm into the tubes.
I have no advice but just a (((hug))) .. I know how it feels when you have everything planned out to what should be perfection and it doesn't work the way you thought it would. Boo is right!
Pastilles are best. However, if you are in a rush, and all that is available is a 1 lb block, you melt it down. I know, I know! Planning prevents panicking! But I forgot to order it.:???:
Hi all- thanks for the replies, the hugs, and the advice! I ended up adding candelilla wax and they worked very nicely. It was suggested that I add a little at a time, and use a cold spoon to check for consistency. Worked perfectly, and I like my lip balm.
I did end up getting new tubes, though- I haven't had time to wash the others, and they will need washing if I want to use them (and at a buck a tube, I should...). There's oil and waxy bits under the cup inside the tube, and there's some in the dial, and it is a complete mess. Yuck.
Sounds like the tubes are what I pictured. Definitely wash for that price! You can get 10 empty tube for 2.99 on eBay. Congrats on your successful batch!
Thanks for the tip, Lin- if I decide this is something to venture into I will look for less expensive packaging. There's so much to learn, and so much trial an error. I am glad for this group!
I haven't sold any Lip Balm yet, but have made it for gifts or to repay people helping me out. Like the amount of soap I've given to my roommate lol. So I usually buy those small packs off eBay so far, and of course reuse my own tubes. For selling you can get them even cheaper in bulk amounts from suppliers. But you need to be ordering bulk to keep the shipping cost from being more than the tubes since they're so cheap lol. The eBay ones have free shipping, they're coming from China so do order in advance since it can take anywhere from 1 week to 3.

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