DIY Moisturizing Hand Salve




Introduction: DIY Moisturizing Hand Salve

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

As someone that works with her hands all the time, they tend to get particularly dry and uncomfortable. I don't like traditional lotions or using straight oil because it leaves my hands greasy for far too long. This salve sinks in quickly and won't leave your hands feeling like an oil slick.

It's also very lightly scented with essential oils, meaning the smell from your hands isn't going to transfer to whatever you're working on! :D

This DIY hand salve works in two ways: moisturizing your hands and sealing in the moisture with beeswax.

Also: this salve is great for dry elbows, feet, knees - anywhere you need it, really.

Step 1: Tools + Materials


  • 1 oz (or 1/2 cup lightly packed) grated beeswax
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • up to 15 drop essential oil of your choosing (I did 10 sweet orange, 3 grapefruit, and 2 clove)

This recipe makes about 10 oz of salve. The salve is fairly soft - if you prefer a firmer salve, you may want to add an additional 1/4 cup grated beeswax.

Regarding the oils I chose: it's the favorite blend I've come up with! It's fairly cheap and I love how avocado oil feels. I also enjoy how cheap olive oil is! However, olive oil does have a stronger smell than most so take that into consideration!

Feel free to switch out oils as you'd like, but make sure you end up with 1 cup of LIQUID oil.


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Microwave OR double boiler
  • Stand grater
  • Clean jars or tins with lids for storing finished product
  • Spatula or spoon
  • Kitchen scale (optional)

Modified from this recipe on Food 52.

Step 2: Grate and Measure the Beeswax

If you bought your beeswax in a block like I did, you'll want to grate it. If you have pastilles or pellets, you're ready to measure!

If you have a kitchen scale, grate enough beeswax to reach 1 oz.

Without it, grate enough beeswax to fill a 1/2 cup measure. Lightly pack the grated beeswax in as you add it!

(Tip for grating: instead of moving the beeswax up and down the grater, hold the beeswax in one hand and the grater in the other - keeping both in the air. Move the grater back and forth over the beeswax - this way is much easier!)

Step 3: Melt the Beeswax

I do this in the microwave, but feel free to do it in a double boiler if you feel better doing it that way!

To melt the beeswax:

  1. Add into a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup
  2. Microwave at 50-70% power, stirring every 45 seconds or so until all the beeswax has melted.

This whole process should only take a few minutes, so make sure you stay near the microwave to watch it.

Step 4: Add Essential Oils and Vitamin E

Once the beeswax is nicely melted, add in the vitamin E oil and stir well.

Then add in your essential oils and stir until everything is completely mixed.

Remember to not go over 15 drops of essential oil: the more essential oil you add, the more and more irritating it will be for your skin. We want this to soothe, not irritate. :D

Step 5: Pour Into Containers and Let Cool

Now you're ready to pour the salve into your containers and let it cool! I always let mine cool uncovered overnight - somewhere up high that my cats can't get to. ;)

Once it's cool, put on the lid and store somewhere room temperature or under for best results. (72 F / 22 C and below - otherwise things may start melting and mess with the consistency.)

I used two 4 oz mason jars and a small mint tin to hold my salve.

This salve is slightly soft and easy to apply. A little bit goes a LONG way. I often get too much for my hands and end up spreading it all over my arms too. :P

I hope you enjoy this salve! I'd love to hear what essential oil combinations you use.



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    21 Discussions

    I love things like this. Especially when you can just take a trip to the pantry, bathroom, etc. instead of the grocery store. On another note where do you recommend for shopping for these kinds of things, I know you can get all these things easy peasy but is there any Hobby Lobby for finding these things!

    I love how you can switch things out, change it up, make it yours

    This is just fantastic, I can't wait to try it out! Boo to those greasy, chemically store bought hand lotions!

    Very fun instructable, thanks! Do you think either increasing the amount of beeswax or decreasing the oil volume would make it stay more firm at a wee bit higher temperature?

    1 reply

    Definitely! Increasing the beeswax will firm it up the easiest - maybe add 1/8 to 1/4 cup extra beeswax and see how that goes. :)


    1 year ago

    I have a beard and dry skin under it. How would you suggest altering this as a beard balm. Rapeseed oil maybe? This is very close to Honest Amish Beard Balm.

    2 replies

    As Saybier suggested, argan oil could be a good choice! I'd also vote for jojoba oil - it's one of the only oils I use on my face. It's wonderful. :)

    Hello Arliem,

    I struggle with psoriasis and have discovered that replacing 1/2 of the live oil for Argan oil makes an amazing balm for hair and skin. I love it!


    1 year ago

    I have been making something similar to this. I use 1 part by weight unrefined shea butter, 1 part pure cocoa butter, 1/2 part beeswax, and 1/2-1 part virgin coconut oil, depending on season. More in winter, less in summer.

    1 reply

    That sounds great! May have to give that a try since I have a block of shea butter sitting around. :D


    1 year ago

    do like the look of this cream. Will be trying it as soon as I'm flush and able to purchase the essential and avo oils. Thank you for the instructions and recipe.

    Regards Mally

    This reminds me of Dr. Naylor's "Udder Balm" (H. W. Naylor Co, Morris, NY) and Vermont's Original "Bag Balm" (Vermont Original LLC, Lydonville, VT), both intended for use on the udders of milk cows, but similar in appearance and use to the product of this instructable. (Both are available from farm supply sources, such as Tractor Supply Co.) Naylor's is scented with Oil of Cloves, but bag balm is essentially unscented, though it has a mild 'medicinal' odor.

    The active ingredient in both products is 8-hydroxyquinolone (0.14 and 0.3% respectively), which is a naturally occurring antiseptic, disinfectant and pesticide. It can be extracted from the Centaurea difussa plant (diffuse knapweed, aka white knapweed or tumbling knapweed), which is native to the region from Asia Minor up into Russia, but somehow made its way to North America a hundred or so years ago, and is now found in every state west of the Rockies, as well as Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

    Both products are based on a blend of petrolatum (petroleum jelly) and lanolin (aka wool fat or wool grease). Lanolin is not a fat, but a grease, and it is the closest natural product to human skin oil. Therefore it is an excellent choice for preserving the moisture in the skin or restoring softness to dry skin. The downside of lanolin is that it is more likely to produce an allergic reaction than petrolatum or beeswax, and in its pure form is as thick as cold pancake syrup and quite sticky, making it difficult to use. No one is actually allergic to wool, but some are allergic to lanolin, and wool clothing has traces of lanolin in it even after the 'de-fatting' process. It's what keeps the wool waterproof, and the sheep warm by keeping water out and away from the skin.

    When I need a really intense treatment, just before bed I run my hands under hot water, apply a few drops of lanolin, and use the water to help spread it over my hands. I then put on cotton or synthetic gloves (glove liners) to keep it from getting all over everything I touch.

    So as long as you not allergic to lanolin, that could be a good ingredient to add or as a substitute for the other oils. The health claims for Vitamin E oil are mixed, and most show it has little or no effect when applied topically. You won't hear that from people who sell it, of course, but there's no scientific reason to believe it is any more beneficial from any number of other vegetable oils. Also be aware that Vitamin E applied to the skin increases the severity of sunburn.

    What I don't like about the beeswax is that it's still beeswax, even after you thin it with oils. You're still putting a layer of this solid material on your skin. I don't believe that using petrolatum is a sin just because it's a byproduct of the petroleum refining process, but if you do, then I suppose that's a problem. Lanolin is a 100% organic product from a renewable resource, if that's any consolation, and it's extracted from the wool after the sheep is sheared, so it only suffers the indignity of being shaved.

    Also keep in mind that you cannot actually 'moisturize' skin. Anything you apply is only a temporary coating, but such products can be beneficial because they help protect the skin from further damage while it repairs itself, from the inside out.

    In the photo, note how the Dr. Naylor product looks very similar to your beeswax product. These tins are roughly 3 x 3 x 2.5", 9 oz. and 8 oz.


    Thanks Jes, I make something similar which uses Coconut oil. I'm going to try your recipe as the Vitamin E oil and Avacado oil sound nice and soothing. I'm a knitter, occasional stitcher and the yarn really dries out my hands. Looking forward to following you on Instagram too!!

    If the temperature in your house gets into the mid 70s, you may want to!

    Just keep in mind you mind need to use a butter knife to chip at it because it will harden much more in the fridge. :)

    Hey Jessy! Thanks for sharing this recipe! How well did the essential oil come through with this recipe? The combination sounds delightful. Did it smell more like orange than grapefruit? Again thanks and do have a happy spring~

    sunshiine ~