When I was a kid I had the most absurdly dry hands—the kind of dry that hurts. I can remember having hands so dry that lotion stung, and they’d crack and bleed. I think I was about twelve or thirteen when I realized I was sick of having sore lizard hands and it was in my power to do something about it. I started carrying lotion around in my backpack and things improved immensely, and I’ve never looked back. My hands are still pretty prone to dryness, though—between diligent washings and our very dry climate the answer to “want some hand lotion?” is always an emphatic yes. So, I thought I’d baby my hands a bit with this Chamomile Winter Hand Butter.
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The inspiration for this project came from my experiments with stearic acid and olive oil. After I made my notes on all the individual ratios I melted them all together and stirred that mixture as it cools—and I was rewarded with a really interesting, creamy butter-like mixture that I was quite taken with. It had a creaminess that I associated with beeswax, but without any of the tackiness or waxiness that can come with wax. It was just… creamy. Buttery, but not greasy, and with more staying power than plain butters. Downright lovely, really. That got me to thinking about creating a super awesome wax-free hand butter that would be rich like something containing wax, but a bit lighter on the hands to prevent the trail of greasy fingerprints waxy salves can leave behind.
The bulk of this hand butter is a blend of some oils and butters that are great for dry skin. Lanolin is pressed from sheep’s wool, and is a classic ingredient for battling chapped, irritated, dry skin (it’s often used alone as a balm for chapped nipples for nursing moms). Cupuacu butter has a beautiful, satiny finish and can hold over 400% its weight in water! Jojoba oil has a makeup similar to our skins sebum, and hemp seed oil is rich in omega fatty acids and has anti-inflammatory properties. All awesome things for winter hands!
I’ve thickened up that blend of oils and butters with stearic acid to create a final product with the most decadent, creamy, buttery final product—it’s divine. The consistency is so unlike anything else I’ve created that I really, truly hope you give it a try. I even love this on my lips, where it’s not quite a lip balm, but doesn’t liquify and run off as pure butters do (stay tuned for specific lip things in this vein!). It’s divine, I love it, and I really hope you’ll try it. Swoon.
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Chamomile Winter Hand Butter
7g | 0.25oz stearic acid (USA / Canada / UK)
5g | 0.18oz lanolin
5g | 0.18oz cupuacu butter (USA / Canada)
5.5g | 0.19oz jojoba oil (USA / Canada)
2.5g | 0.088oz unrefined hemp seed oil
0.125g | 1 drop Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
3 drops South African chamomile essential oil (Eriocephalus punctulatus)
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
Weigh the stearic acid, lanolin, cupuacu butter, jojoba oil, and hemp seed oil into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
Once everything has melted, remove the measuring cup from the heat and set it aside. Prepare an ice bath by placing a couple ice cubes and some cold water in a shallow bowl. Place the measuring cup of the melted oils in the ice bath for short spurts, stirring continuously—it will start to get a bit cloudy and then start to thicken up. Keep stirring to ensure you get a nice, creamy final consistency.
When the mixture is cool, thick, and creamy, add the vitamin E and chamomile essential oil, and stir to combine. Transfer to a small jar or tin—I used these adorable 25mL glass jars from Voyaguer. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this hand butter is 100% oil based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
These substitution suggestions are pretty broad, and as such will definitely impact the outcome of the recipe. You’ll still get a soft salve/butter, but that’s about all I can promise!
- You can use a different soft butter instead of the lanolin and/or the cupuacu butter; something like shea butter or mango butter will work
- You can use different liquid oils instead of the two listed
- Under no circumstances can you use anything but stearic acid for the stearic acid!
I have E Wax can that be used in place of the Steric Acid and how much?
From the substitutions list: “Under no circumstances can you use anything but stearic acid for the stearic acid!”
So… no 🙂
What about Cetearyl Alcohol?
Sounds very therapeutic for winter skin Marie. I haven’t made anything with lanolin in it so far this year with the exception of soap but from experience I do know that lanolin is amazing stuff for dry skin. I’ve made lip balm with it and it’s fabulous for dry lips too. I don’t have any cupuacu butter (so expensive anymore) but I do have some refined cocoa butter so I’ll have to use it.
I hope you love it! Mine has a place of honour next to my bed 🙂
Thank you for the beautiful recipe, can’t wait to try it. What do you think of adding soy/sunflower lecithin in place of the lanolin? And, do you think one could make a whipped butter out of this?
I think lecithin in those quantities would likely be very sticky. It may whip up; I haven’t tried it!
I will make this, Marie. I have that same problem with my hands and it’s going on right now with our change of weather. If I don’t do something like now, they’ll start cracking and bleeding, too.
Just wish I didn’t have to sub the lanolin, darnit. So many times I’ve almost bought it and then passed.
I think it has such a comforting scent and I love knitting with wool as it smells of lanolin and my fingers get so soft, while the hours pass by.
Just made this and it’s perfect. This is going in my gift list for Christmas. It’s that nice!
Subbed the lanolin with mango as suggested but I’m getting lanolin, now. I want to exact duplicate this because Marie knows why she uses what she uses.
YAY! I’m so glad you’re loving it 😀
I love your knitting story! It makes me think of warm fires and cozy blankets and hot tea… swoon! Especially relevant as it is now sad and snowing here. Brr! May our hands not suffer this season!
Snowing!!! My condolences!
Warm fire…forced furnace suffocating heat. ( We have the wood stove down in our storage shed but no one has time to install it)
Hot tea…how about hot coffee?
Making your Rich Meadowfoam Body Cream now. High hopes this saves my skin.
-29°C this morning 😐 BRR! Hibernation mode activated 😛
I am reading this a year later as I am about to make this. I am from Australia and we have a heat wave at the moment – had 36C. Feel for you in the cold as I melt in the humid Queensland weather. For those of you in Australia reading this I finally found an Australian stockist for Cupuacu butter – http://www.escentials.com.au
Thanks so much, Laurie! I’m envying your heat wave right now—we are also having unseasonably warm weather, but for December in Canada that means highs of 3°C LOL.
I didn’t have capuacu butter so I swapped it out for kokum butter and reduced the stearic acid to 6.65 grams to account for the increased stearic acid in kokum butter vs capuacu and I must say this is amaze balls. I have recently fallen in love with a trio of mango butter, infused oil and kokum butter but this may kick it to the curb. I’d say head to toe it is great for everything but the face. A touch heavy for the face. Great for lips though!
I like that you took the time to calculate the kokum butter/stearic acid difference. I’m poor at math and too lazy to do that myself anyway, so I’m writing your formula down for future reference. Thanks Zil!
YAY! I really must get myself some kokum butter—I don’t think I’ve ever tried it LE GASP!
Hi Marie, I love this recipe and made this butter a few times using exactly the ingredients you indicated but I noticed that after a couple of months my hand butter got grains in it. Do you know what the reason might be and if there is a solution to a avoid this? Thanks in advance
I’ve got an FAQ on this 🙂
I made a batch for my hands with lavender & chamomile; then a double batch with lemon tea tree and peppermint oil for my feet. I forgot how amazing lanolin is for dry cracked skin.
Yay! I’m so glad you are enjoying it, and your scent blend variations sound divine 😀
Thanks for sharing Maria,
I just made this but substituted the Chamomile for Rosewood essential oil. What a beautiful texture and consistency to this hand butter.
Yay! I’m so glad you are enjoying it so far 🙂 Thanks for DIYing with me!
Made BIG BURLY Construction workers try this and they even give it a 2 Thumbs UP!!! 🙂
My sister-in-law has extremely sensitive skin and painfully cracked winter hands. I can’t wait to try this for her (and me!) It sounds absolutely lovely.
Yay! I really hope she loves it 🙂
Could this be used on your face? Looks like another winner Marie, can’t wait to try it? Thanks!
I wouldn’t; it’s pretty darn thick and heavy for the face, though I do love it on my lips. There’s no real reason you couldn’t, it’s mostly just a preference thing.
If you want to make a large batch say 10 at a time do the ratios/proportions stay the same? In other words take all the ingredients X 10 and it will turn out the same? I already get your email. Thank you!
Yup! But PLEASE make it once at the original batch size to make sure you like it first, and be sure to convert the EO to weight before scaling 🙂
My skin is loving the sealing of the lanolin for winter. Have you ever played with having small percentages lanolin in lotion?
I haven’t yet, but now that I have some again I definitely will be! Ooooooer 😀
Hi. Made this today. This is the first thing I’ve ever done with Cupuacu butter. I didn’t have any lanolin, so I figured I’d just make the cupuacu the star, and make up the lanolin grams in it as well. This stuff is special. When you mentioned that cupuacu butter can hold 400% it’s weight in water, what does that exactly mean, and what’s the best way to utilize that talent. I’m assuming it must be worked into a lotion to be able to carry the water? or if it’s applied to still damp skin, can it help hold onto the remaining water? I was just wondering how it works.
From my reading cupuacu butter can help stabilize emulsions due to its water holding abilities, and from the description here it does sound like it would also do great things applied to damp skin. Give the full article a read, too, it’s fascinating!
Hellooo :), I follow you from Dominican Republic, here the weather is hot all year long, how do you think it works with the heat, will it melt? And if I can use this as body lotion in a bottle with pump.
Thank you very much, I love your recipes!
Stearic acid melts around 69°C, so while this may be softer, I doubt it would be liquid, and I highly doubt you can use it in a pump bottle, though something like a GoToob may work 🙂
Hey Marie, just made this and used it on my hands at bedtime. Woke up to lovely, soft feeling hands. Love it! I was out of hemp oil so subbed in avocado oil. As soon as I get more hemp oil I’m definitely making this for Christmas gifts! I love Barbara’s suggestion about using tea tree & peppermint for a foot butter. Thanks for another winner Marie!
YAY! That sounds so downright lovely 😀 I definitely need to play with this concept more!
It was a windy and rainy Monday here in Washington State today. What a lovely and quick little after work DIY this recipe was. I’m excited to report that I even had the adorable little jar (squeal!) It is too cute and held this one recipe perfectly-woo! When you say this recipe is creamy and buttery and non greasy you were not kidding. It’s wonderful! Everyone should make this delightful Chamomile Winter Hand Butter!! Bliss, bliss, bliss!
YAY!!! This makes me so darn happy 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing and for DIYing with me!
I love the consistency of this hand butter! I am a huge fan of lanolin and have used it on its own quite a bit. First time using cupuacu butter and stearic acid. I have really bad eczema on my hands so I’m hoping this will help.
I did have to substitute the hemp oil for macadamia nut oil as I unfortunately react horribly to hemp, which is a bummer because it has such great properties.
I love all of your recipes that I have tried so far, thanks for sharing them!
Yay! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it 🙂 I hope it helps with your eczema!
Hello Marie, I made the balm recipe in grams according to your instructions with sheabutter but the balm turned out much too hard and not at all soft and creamy like your picture. I see that you used 28% stearic acid and this is quite a lot. I will try it again with less stearic acid and maybe not shea but cocoabutter for a smoother consistency. Your thoughts are deeply appreciated!.
I chose that amount based on experiments I did, which you can review here. It’s really not a lot for the texture I wanted! It should be thick and creamy/pasty.
I made this today, and I slathered the excess from the container that I was making it in onto my arms. I kept wondering why they were so soft, and then remembered! I am planning on using this on my feet before bed, as they need a little extra TLC right now. This stuff is very powerful. I subbed in mango butter and sweet almond oil and it turned out just fine 🙂
Oooh yay! I’m so glad you are enjoying it 😀 I really must try giving myself a pedicure with it, several people have said it’s awesome on feet. For science!
Made this today and ohhhhh my, what a creamy, beautiful soft consistency. I love that it melts instantly and leaves my cracked fingers and knuckles super hydrated and soft. Next up is the lip balm which I wanna use part of it sans mica for a hand lotion stick (silly to call lotion qhen there’s no water but I just don’t kniw what to call a body butter bar in a stick!!!) Thanks Marie!
PS: got some penstia powder from lotioncrafter along with Sepimax Zen, cetac, Alpaflor Gigawhite and I feel like a ‘lil kid oohing and awwwing over my new ingredients!
OOooh yay! And hurrah for new tows! I haven’t tried that last one, let me know what you think of it (as if I need more things on my wish list, LOL!).
Just a note: my hand butter came out more like a soft balm… it’ll melt once I touch it but it isn’t butter consistency (maybe butter that’s kept in the fridge!) Not a big deal for me since this thing is absolutely fantastic and I love the texture nonetheless but was wondering why I got a more solid consistency than you. Didn’t change or subbed anything. Also my lanolin smells a bit like gasoline or motor oil… not as strong of course but it’s there. I thought it wouldn’t bug me but it kinda did so I used a few drops of cool citrus fragrance oil and that helped tone down the lanolin smell. I used pure lanolin cream before (by a baby brand called Lansinoh) when I was nursing my babies but it didn’t smell anything like this one I got now. Any ideas? Maybe I should change supplier? Anyway, I love learning to make all this cool stuff so thanks once again for all your hard work and for these awesome recipes!
I think that may be more our ambient temperatures, or perhaps definitions, or butters we’re referring to? This butter is the same consistency as my cupuacu butter and mango butter. And yeah, lanolin does not smell amazing LOL. I believe you can find deodorized versions; I’d suggest reading product reviews and/or asking your supplier if you’re in doubt 🙂
This sounds so wonderful! I was thinking of substituting the jojoba oil with a homemade calendula oil (petals infused in olive oil) Do you think this would be alright? I’m super intrigued by the “not super greasy” description of this and want to keep it the same! Thanks!
That should work well—the absorbency speeds of the two oils are pretty close and it’s not a huge part of the recipe 🙂 Happy making!
I did your recipe, just did it x 20. I find it hard to work in such small batches. I make soaps and butters, so this was nothing totally unfamiliar. It turned out great. It was a bit heavy and greasy, but I added Modified Tapioca Starch, which helped. Thanks for sharing this recipe! Now my question is, and I looked everywhere on your site, where do I get that small tiny spatula that you stir your products with?
I’m glad you like it, especially at a 20x batch! I initially wasn’t a huge fan of tiny batches but quickly figured out that if I didn’t become a fan I’d end up with three lifetimes worth of DIY products haha 😛 I’ve got a post here on all my favourite equipment 🙂
I just made this, and I LOVE how it feels, but mine is not creamy. It hardened once poured, and I have to dig a little to get it out. I followed the recipe exactly…just doubled it.
I think the issue may be with the “pouring” part—you aren’t supposed to be able to pour it into the container, you’re supposed to stir it until it’s creamy and opaque, and then transfer it to your container 🙂 If you can pour it, you haven’t stirred it long enough!
I noticed that for the first week the texture of the hand butter was super nice, smooth, and thick but then it gradually felt very grainy. Do you think it has anything to do with the melting point of the butters? I know with chocolate that you have to temper it so that it doesn’t get grainy and chalky, so I’m thinking it’s the same for the butters used?
It definitely could be, but I’ve never had graininess issues with any of the butters used in this recipe. Did you try shea instead? That one is notorious for going grainy.
Stirring during cooling until “trace” is reached typically prevents the onset of graininess, and we do that in this recipe, so I’m surprised it went grainy on you. Hmm.
I just made this today! Winter is winding down here and my hands are not as chapped as they were, but it’s never the wrong time of the year to treat your hands, right? I subbed mango butter for the butter and safflower oil for hemp. Really love the texture of this, I spent more time than necessary stirring because it was kind of fun to watch I’m already thinking about making some for a friend who is a new parent! He is always asking to borrow whatever lotion I have on me because his hands are overwashed :]
Awesome! Thanks so much for DIYing with me 😀 Sounds like your friend has figured out who the best person to steal hand things from is 😉
I make a lanolin-based recipe for foot care, which I really like, but you hooked me on cupuacu butter a few months ago and I had to try this one. It’s really nice. Thanks very much!
Wonderful, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! ❤️
Ok, I officially love this! Just made it. I did double it to get close to 2 ounces. What would be the best sub for the Jojoba part. I always have Hemp – Cant live without it. But I do not always carry Jojoba I have pretty much every exotic oil. Maybe Im going to try EMU or Oat oil. What do you think??
I’d probably blend help and oat—oat is definitely a bit heavier than jojoba, but it is so decadent, especially for a winter product!
Mine is a little bit grainy, what did I do wrong? I stirred from start to finish… Marcie
This is the biggest reason I don’t like making anhydrous products. The dreaded grain factor! Vegetable butters are the worst for this. This type of product needs constant stirring right up until trace. Marie outlines it here. If you stirred constantly, try stirring till a thicker trace is reached.
Good luck and let me know how it worked!
I LOVE this butter! As an older gal living in the mountains where the snow gets high and the cold gets deep I can use all the help my dry skin can get!
I would like to ask you though if you see a way to incorporate some tallow into this formula? I have lots of organic grass fed lard and while I tried your recent tallow recipe and think it is great, I’d love it to have the buttery softness of this butter recipe. Is there a way to do that?
Woohoo! I’d probably try some tallow in place of the cupuacu and/or lanolin and see how that goes 🙂 Happy making!
Can I use chamomile hydrosole instead of oil?
And can I add an spf agent? And if so what and how much?
No to both. Give this and this a read 🙂
And just to prove that I’m not a complete failure at DIY skincare (see my anguished comment on Autumn Spice Body Butter), I made this today and it went absolutely perfectly and turned out exactly as Marie demonstrated! Gorgeous! I’ll be using this on my gnarly Nova Scotia hands this winter. Bliss! 🙂
I’m thrilled to hear it!