A common garden weed + simple ingredients makes up these purple dead nettle lotion bars that are perfect for dry, chapped, or cracked hands and feet.
Lotion bars are not only super easy to make, but they’re highly effective too!
This lotion bar recipe features purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum), which is a common weed found in many places in the world including North America, Europe, and Asia.
I’ve been spotting some in bloom for several weeks now, even though we recently had a freezing stretch with snow and ice. Purple dead nettle is quite hardy, enjoying cooler weather – peaking in spring (or April around here, in zone 7 USA) and fading back in the heat of summer.
It’s a nutritious edible, thought I can’t say it’s a very tasty one (to me anyway), so I mostly use it for its external anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits, including it in salves, lotion bars, lip balms, etc. It also makes a great tincture for allergy season.
See my article:
for foraging tips, and more ideas and recipes for using it.
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What you’ll need:
You only need a few basic ingredients and supplies to get started with this project:
- Beeswax – Pastilles are easiest to use, but grated beeswax can be used instead, just pack the cup more firmly. If you’d like a vegan option, try using half as much candelilla wax instead of beeswax.
- Cosmetic Butter – Shea or mango butter are two good options, shea is a little richer, while mango is a little lighter
- Purple Dead Nettle Infused Oil – Directions to make that are found in my article, 9+ Things to Make with Purple Dead Nettle.
- Optional: Tamanu Oil – This oil is especially nice for damaged, cracked, achy, or chapped skin, so I love using it in salves and lotion bars. If you don’t have any available, just use more infused oil instead. The tamanu oil gives these bars a soft green color, so without the oil, your bars will be more yellow-toned.
- Optional: Essential Oil – If you’d like, you can add a small amount of essential oil to your lotion bars. Lavender, cedarwood, or sweet orange are a few good choices.
- Equipment – A canning jar or heatproof container for melting the ingredients together, a small saucepan, and a silicone or plastic mold (heatproof silicone candy molds or ice trays work well too).
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How to make:
I normally work in parts when making lotion bars, usually using a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup.
- 1 part beeswax
- 1 part mango (or shea) butter
- 1 part purple dead nettle infused oil
- optional: 10 to 30 drops essential oil for every 3/4 cup (abt 138 g) total ingredients
This could translate into something like:
- 1/4 cup (36 g) beeswax pastilles
- 1/4 cup (58 g) mango butter
- 1/4 cup (44 g) purple dead nettle infused oil **
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
Lotion bars are VERY forgiving. If your lotion bar turns out too soft, melt it again and add a bit more beeswax. If it turns out too hard, melt it again and add a little more oil.
Measure out the beeswax, mango butter, and purple dead nettle infused oil into a canning jar or heatproof container, or use a recycled tin can for this project for ease of cleanup.
** When measuring out the oil, here’s what I like to do: First, put 1 tablespoon of tamanu oil in the measuring cup, then fill the rest of the way with infused oil.
Tamanu oil is an excellent enrichment if your skin is in rough shape. However, you could use only infused oil, and no tamanu if you’d like, and they’ll still turn out great!
Set the container of ingredients down into a pan containing a few inches of water, creating a makeshift double boiler.
Place the pan over a low burner and allow the water to indirectly heat the contents until the beeswax is melted. Remove from heat.
Optional: Add essential oil, though I most often leave lotion bars plain.
Pour the melted mixture into the molds and let sit undisturbed for a few hours, or until cool and hardened.
Storage & Use:
Store individual lotion bars in small tins for gifting or carrying in your purse, or use a mason jar to store several at a time. Keep your lotion bars away from heat and direct sunlight, as they can melt quite easily.
How To Use:
Rub the lotion bar over your skin wherever it feels dry. The heat from your skin will melt the bar just enough to leave behind a thin layer that helps protect and seal in moisture. Use as often as needed.
References & Sources
Five New Phenylethanoid Glycosides from the Whole Plants of Lamium purpureum L – compounds in Purple Dead Nettle have potent free radical scavenging activity
Antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of some medicinal plants from the Lamiaceae. (including Purple Dead Nettle/Lamium purpureum)
In vivo anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive actions of some Lamium species. Several Lamium species have been used to relieve pain in arthritic ailments in Turkish folk medicine.
Antimicrobial properties of calendula (multiple studies)
Making Plant Medicine, Richo Cech.