Massage lovers everywhere: prepare to fall in love. This silky, glide-y Coconut Massage Butter gives you eons of working time on the skin for a luxurious, satiny massage. It isn’t oily or greasy, but you’ll find your hands gliding over skin with a wonderful, soft slip. When you’re done the massage, this butter settles down to a soft, velvety finish that’s light and luxurious—the sort of thing you’re happy to leave on your skin. Swoon.
Post & video updated: July 21, 2022
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Up until now, my go-to for massages has been massage oil, and I’ve made some lovely ones over the years. Massage oils are super simple to make and work well, but they have one major downfall—they’re liquid. This means you’re left dispensing and steering a palmful of liquid oil, and often above sheets that you’d prefer not to soak in oil. I’ve thought about making solid massage butters in the past, in my pre-cetyl-alcohol-days, and always dismissed the idea as true waxes give products a tack and grab that is undesirable in massage products. However, as I’ve worked with cetyl alcohol and fallen in love with its silky, glidey goodness, the massage butter idea re-surfaced.
Predictably, the majority of the thickening of this Coconut Massage Butter comes from cetyl alcohol, with a bit more coming from the inclusion of some BTMS-50. BTMS-50 is a cationic emulsifying wax, and it’s a wonderful inclusion in this massage butter. The cationic, conditioning contribution leaves the skin feeling utterly wonderful—silky and a bit powdery. It’s divine. The emulsifying element means this massage butter washes out of sheets and other fabrics better than pure oils. You could also apply this massage butter to damp skin, and it will self-emulsify with any water on the skin, transforming into lotion.
I’ve always loved coconut oil in massage oils because it’s thin and really oily (this is the same reason I don’t typically love it in body butters, at least in high concentrations). I find coconut oil melts down to a thin liquid and sits on the skin, providing great, long-lasting lubrication for massages. At 40% it contributes a huge amount of the slip in this massage butter, as well as a subtle (and delicious) coconut scent.
We get even more slip from the inclusion of a small amount of dimethicone 350. Dimethicone is a silicone oil, derived from silica (sand is chiefly comprised of silica), and the 350 is the viscosity designation. 350 is considered medium viscosity; it’s about the same viscosity as castor oil (castor oil won’t make a good substitute for dimethicone 350—I’m only mentioning it because the viscosities are similar!) . Dimethicone contributes amazing slip, reduces tack, and helps protect the skin. You don’t have to use it (see the substitutions list for alternatives), but it really is amazing, especially in a massage product. It’s inexpensive, has a long shelf life, and is very versatile—you can include it in lotions, hair products, cosmetics, and more.
This massage butter is rounded off with some lightweight, glidey liquid oils and a touch of vitamin E oil to extend the shelf life. We’ll melt everything together, cool it in an ice bath while stirring, and then let it set up. You’ll be rewarded with a decadently soft, slippy massage butter that smells wonderfully of coconuts. I hope you love it as much as I do.
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Relevant links & further reading
- BTMS-50 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Coconut Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Fractionated coconut oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Medium chain triglycerides in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Safflower Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Dimethicone 350 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- A Quick Guide to Cetyl Alcohol & Liquid Oil Ratios
- 4 tips to make your body butters feel expensive
- 6 body butter mistakes most newbies make
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- A Guide to Carrier Oil Substitutions
Coconut Massage Butter
2.8g | 7% BTMS-50 (USA / Canada)
3.8g | 9.50% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
16g | 40% virgin coconut oil
6g | 15% fractionated coconut oil
10g | 25% safflower oil
1.2g | 3% dimethicone 350 (USA / Canada)
Cool Down Phase
0.2g | 0.50% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
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 heated phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through. Depending on where you live, you may need to microwave it to get the BTMS-50 to fully melt; mine never wants to melt in a water bath, so I used a few 15 second bursts in the microwave.
While the mixture melts: 1) weigh out the post-heat ingredients, and 2) prepare a cold water bath by combining some cold water and a couple ice cubes in a bowl large enough to accommodate whatever you’re melting the heated phase in.
Once everything in the heated phase has melted, remove the mixture from the heat. Add the post-heat ingredients one at a time, stirring between additions. This will kick-start the cooling process; the mixture will become cloudy as it cools. Once it has turned milky white, stir in the vitamin E.
Now it’s time to cool the massage butter to trace before packaging it up. Place the measuring cup containing the massage butter into the cold water bath and cool, stirring constantly, until you reach a medium “trace”; the mixture should have enough viscosity that a small amount drizzled over the surface of the mixture leaves a 3D “trace” for an instant. The mixture should appear opaque with a viscosity similar to that of unwhipped heavy cream. Refer to the video to see it in action! This part can be a bit tricky as too much viscosity will mean the batter won’t pour into the container nicely, so be careful and make sure your packing is standing by.
Once you reach trace you can now pour the product into its container and leave it on the counter to set up. I used a 50mL plastic jars from YellowBee (gifted). Leave it to set up for about an hour before using.
If the massage butter hasn’t set after an hour, you might not’ve brought it to a thick enough trace. Try gently re-melting the butter and bringing it to a thicker trace before pouring. If that doesn’t work, you might need a bit more cetyl alcohol. For this 40g batch I’d try melting in an additional 1–2g (take notes so you can replicate your results later!), and then once again bring the butter to trace, pour, and leave it to set up.
To use, scoop up a small amount of massage butter and warm it between your hands before applying to bare skin and massaging away. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this massage 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.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the formulation, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this formulation in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams, this formulation will make 40g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- For the BTMS-50:
- You can try BTMS-25 instead of of BTMS-50, though the end result will be less conditioning. BTMS-25 is also a stronger thickener than 50 and is more creamy, so it will change the final consistency.
- You could try 1.5% Behentrimonium Chloride and 5.5% Cetyl Alcohol.
- I don’t recommend Varisoft® EQ 65 (Distearoylethyl Dimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol) or Emulsence HC. They are both missing the magic of BTMS-50.
- There’s no reason to use a non-ionic or anionic emulsifying wax like Emulsifying Wax NF or Ritamulse SCG (Emulsimulse, ECOMulse) instead; the BTMS-50 is included in this formulation primarily because it is cationic, not because it’s an emulsifier.
- Please don’t substitute the cetyl alcohol with anything else.
- You can choose different lightweight, inexpensive, glidey liquid oils in place of the fractionated coconut oil and/or safflower oil (I use Apricot Kernel Oil in the updated 2022 video instead of safflower oil). You can also use all of one or the other.
- You can use refined coconut oil or babassu oil in place of the virgin coconut oil, but you will lose the wonderful coconut scent.
- For the dimethicone 350:
- You could try a thicker dimethicone, like dimethicone 500.
- Don’t use a volatile silicone like cyclomethicone or dimethicone 1.5; that won’t have the on-skin playtime we’re looking for.
- You could try a natural dimethicone alternative, though I don’t find they work quite as well.
- You could replace it with more liquid oil or coconut oil, though this will make for a slightly less awesome/slippy product.
Hi! Thank you for that. I am curious if the cetyl and btms 50 will make it stable enough to ship without messing up it’s consistency from the South.
I highly doubt it—it melts perfectly (and quickly) on the skin, so I’d estimate the melting point to be no more than 30°C.
Hi Marie, Are there any other substitutions for BTMS-50 other than BTMS-25? Or could the massage butter be made without it? I’m trying to find recipes that do not require adding another ingredient to my shelf. I do have an emulsifying E-wax if that might be similar. Thanks!
I probably wouldn’t use a non-ionic emulsifying wax in place of the BMTS-50; without the cationic element it isn’t really worth including one. You could probably use more cetyl alcohol in its place to maybe 5%, and then use the remaining 2% for a bit more liquid oil. You could also replace ~10% of the liquid oil with olivem300 if you have it to get some emulsifying properties back 🙂
Hi! Do you think I could make this using olive wax? If so, what would your recommend I remove? Thanks 🙂
I bet you totally could! I actually thought about using it here but then remembered how dang hard it is to get in most places. It would replace the cetyl alcohol 🙂
Ooo, I’m so excited about this. My Husband has ongoing degrees of back pain, and asks me to massage sore spots almost daily. You’re right. With a liquid oil I always end up with way to much because it’s hard to steer. But I’m going to add some essential oils for the therapeutic purpose of soothing sore muscles. Peppermint, Arnica and Clove work really well.
I hope you and your husband love it! I know my tubs are already getting tons of use 😀
Try Lavender and Majoram, very effective for inflammation, the cause of muscles becoming sore. Also good for arthritis, etc. But best always to first look at the cause of the pain & treat from there.
Oh Marie! This is so bad-a**!
i’ve read others talking about your amazing psychic abilities or your ken for making the recipes we need when we need them..i’m totally stoked to try this!
My only concern is my super cheap pyrex that i got thru a surplus lab supply place..have you ever had any beakers crack when you’ve submerged them in the ice-bath? i’m kind of notorious for cracking, breaking & literally exploding multiple concoctions in the past & w/o fail, its usually something that purports to be ‘unbreakable’..
Yup! I’ve had a beaker and a Pyrex jug blow up on me. And the reason is simple. Drastic changes in temperature. Don’t take the glass straight from the double boiler into an ice bath, give it a few minutes to cool a wee bit then use the ice bath.
Thanks, Suki! I haven’t had cracking issues while DIYing, but I definitely have with large temperature shocks in cooking. Apparently Pyrex isn’t as break resistant as it once was 🙁 I mostly use vintage pyrex from garage sales (apparently the trick is to look for the brand name in all caps) and beakers, and I usually let things cool for a minute or two at room temperature before submerging them in the ice bath. Good luck!
Neat idea! Never thought about making a massage product with an ewax or with cetyl alcohol. So need to give this a try!!!!!
It is da silky, glidey, gorgeous bomb 😀
Hello Marie, Thanks again for another awesome recipe. Do you think I could substitute cyclomethicone for the dimethicone 350? Thanks again, for all you do. Deana
Hey Deana! While they are both silicones, cyclomethicone and dimethicone 350 are really different. Cyclomethicone is very light and volatile—it evaporates off the skin really quickly, similar to isopropyl alcohol (though without the stink & sting!). Dimethicone 350 is thicker and richly emollient, more like oat oil. They don’t make good swaps for one another 🙂
I love your recipes! I’m excited to try this one but I’m in sunny California where it’s about 90 degrees now. I’m guessing that this will melt if I leave it at room temperature here. If it melts, would I be able to stick it in the fridge to solidify or will that somehow change it’s properties? I’m not patient enough to wait for cooler weather!
Mine has definitely seriously softened and then un-softened a bit over the last few weeks with all our hot weather and it seems to be fine!
Thanks for the cool tip RE:the capital letters on the pyrex! i never knew that..however, i DID notice that my “pyrex” is called chinex, which might be great? Or maybe not?
Regardless, i’m chillin’ for a minute before i’m chillin’,so to speak, for sure!
Hope your crazy inspiring life is going great!
Also, thanks for the validation, MsBarb!
I hope this is the end of the Suki explosions!
How long does the butter last before expiring?
This information is right in the recipe 😉
When I saw this recipe I knew that it was going to solve a long time but not high priority problem. Tiger Balm is so fantastic on sore muscles but has limited “play” time. Using the EO percentages on the can, I have made a few attempts at replacing the “soft paraffin” and “hard paraffin” with various waxes and butters with reasonable success.
Along comes Marie with her clever brain, extensive ingredient library and loads of off-camera experimental research (which she shares very generously with us) and my brain said, “What if I replace her liquid oils with the essential oils from the Tiger Balm can?” It took a wee bit of math to maintain the EO ratios, but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!
One thing to be aware of is that at a room temp of 25-26°C, the formulation is quite liquid-y. I’m keeping it in the fridge following a sloshing incident. (On the upside, I really like how it smells and I now have a very clean floor!) : )
OOooooh, SO COOL! Thanks so much for sharing! I will definitely have to add this to my “to-try” list 😀 Sore muscles, watch out!
Updated Raving: This is the most amazing stuff for working out the kinks the day after a good workout!The slip and glide are divine! It can be worked for a nice long time and the Tiger Balm EOs keep on working even when your masseuse is finished their part.
Five months in and we’re never going to be without this again!
Oh my goodness, I am so thrilled! I definitely need to whip up another tub, mine is almost gone 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing and for DIYing with me!
Further update: Dec 2020. We will never be without this. Never. Everything I already said, still holds.
Five stars for this recipe!!!!
Hooray! I still positively adore this stuff as well ❤️
Hi Ester. What a brilliant idea!
Would you mond sharing the ratios of the essential oils?
The temp here is usually about 30-36 degrees C how can I adjust the recipe to account for this and still have the texture in your pic 🙁 I totally suck at formulation and I really don’t want to store in the refrigerator
I really can’t say for sure as I do not have the opportunity to test it myself, but the general direction you’d want to go would be more cetyl alcohol, and less liquid oil. I’d probably start with 5% and go from there!
Hmm….my coconut oil is always liquid at room temperature. We have temps at around 34C. Do you think it might help if I used a butter to replace the liquid oil like shea butter for instance?
I’d try to keep the coconut oil if I were you as it is so wonderfully slippy, while shea is quite skiddy/sticky in comparison. Increasing the cetyl alcohol is probably the way to go 🙂
I subbed EOs for the liquid oils and even though my house is only 21°C in the winter, I still keep it in the fridge. I find that it’s easy enough to scoop out the amount I need and warm it in my hand as needed.
I made this recently and tried it out on my husband, and we both love it. Unfortunately the cat seemed to like it as well! We’ll have to remember to close the jar
Ahhhahahahahaha! How funny My dog has definitely tried to sneak a lick or two after I’ve used this as well LOL, there must be something to it!
Hey Marie, Thanks for sharing this cool recipe. I just stumbled across it in my search for a body butter recipe. I was interested in knowing where you got the black little pod/container? I would love to grab a few for my project
The container is linked in the instructions 🙂
I’ve used this recipe a few times now to make a canna-infused massage oil. I decided that I was going to make a large batch so I’m not making a small batch every couple of weeks.
I prepped my stuff, and put it into my water bath and the bottom of the jar went. Ping. I knew from the years I’ve canned, I just lost the jar.
Crap crap crap.
So, I decided to wing it. I guestimated how much oils I had and how much water in the pot and added a handful (cause that’s about as specific as I could be) emulsifying wax.
I used an emerson blender every few minutes until it was cool.
And I ended up with the most divine silky but not greasy lotion, that I’ve had two people now ask if I can replicate cause they’d like some.
Which of course I couldnt even if I tried. But glad it ended up being a happy accident and not a catastrophe.
What a roller-coaster of a story! I was all “NOOO!!!” and then “YES!!!” and then “Awwww RIGHT. Mystery awesome creation. BALLS.” LOL. I’m glad you created something you love in the end, and hopefully you manage to create something similar-ish in the future ❤️ Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Hi Marie, is it possible to add fragrance oil into this recipe? I tried looking for info on the page but couldn’t find any info. thank u for the amazing recipe!!
Hi, I am a massage therapist and I live in Chile. Chile uses massage oils not lotion but I prefer to use lotion. I’m looking to make my own lotion to use on my clients. Is there a way I can use this recipe as a base for a lotion? Maybe the same proportions of the existing ingredients but add an emulsifier and the water phase and preservative? Thanks for any tips you can share.
Thanks for all your amazing information and creativity. I’m looking for a good massage lotion that isn’t greasy. This seems to fit the bill, but i’m not a fan of the smell of coconut oil. Can that be covered over with other EOs? Or substituted with another oil that is more neutral? Many thanks!
Hi Nicole! Simply use refined coconut oil 🙂