I love few things more than the scent of the forest floor in the sun in the Canadian Rockies. A few weeks ago we took a trip out to Moraine Lake—one of the most famous lakes in the world. You might not know it by name, but you know the view; it’s incredibly famous. Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks used to be on the Canadian $20 bill. It’s just around the corner (by Canadian standards, at least) from the more famous Lake Louise. The lake water is an astonishing, almost unbelievable bright turquoise, and the forest around the lake smells incredible. You can wander a forest path to the back of the lake (stopping to take about 600 photos as you go) and bask in the incredibly fresh forest air and the smell of pine trees and fir needles. Even if you can’t make it to Banff, this lovely Moraine Lake Body Lotion will help transport you there.
For its amazing scent I decided to combine a lovely blend of essential oils indescribably foresty smelling bayberry wax. Bright, clean fir needle essential oil blends with deep, warm labdanum and crisp, fresh cajeput to create a scent blend that smells like sunshine on the forest floor and clean mountain air. A wee touch of rose wax adds a subtle floral note for a final scent blend that’s intriguing, subtle, and delightfully reminiscent of hiking in the forest.
Rose wax is by-product of the production of rose essential oil and rose absolute, and I adore it. The best thing about it is how it smells amazingly of roses, but doesn’t cost $100 for a solitary teaspoon of the stuff. Rose wax is my favourite way to get a real rose scent in something, and I can’t recommend it enough. The wax itself is very soft—it’s nothing like beeswax or candelilla wax—so it’s not useful for thickening (it’s roughly as hard as shea butter). Used in teensy amounts it’s a wonderful scent ingredient, though—if you don’t have any and you love the scent of roses (but not the price tag of the essential oil), I can’t recommend buying some enough. If you don’t have any, you can use an extra gram of safflower oil and add a few drops of rose essential oil or absolute instead.
A blend of grassy hemp seed oil and safflower oil make for a light, fast-absorbing lotion that glides beautifully over the skin, leaving it soft and hydrated (but not greasy). Because bayberry wax is quite a soft wax, it doesn’t make the lotion tacky like some waxes can. I used unrefined hemp seed oil for its slight grassy scent, but if you’ve only got the refined variety, that’ll work as well.
The general consensus is that this lotion is incredible. I forced (err, encouraged) a bunch of friends at a party to try it out, and they all liked it, saying it smells awesome and feels great (even Kate, who’s super picky about how lotions feel, said she loved how this one feels!). And, as I sit here, huffing my hands like a person you don’t want to sit next to on the bus, I have to agree. This Moraine Lake body lotion is awesome stuff.
Moraine Lake Body Lotion
73g | 2.56oz just-boiled water
2g | 0.07oz vegetable glycerin
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer (aim for steaming, no bubbling) in a wide, shallow pan. I used a sauté pan (something like this, with a flat bottom and short sides), but a frying pan would work as well. You want the pan to be large enough to hold two glass measuring cups or small bowls so you can heat the two parts of the lotion at the same time.
Weigh the emulsifying wax, hemp seed oil, safflower oil, bayberry wax, and rose wax into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup, and place that measuring cup into the water bath to melt everything together.
Up next, combine the just-boiled water and vegetable glycerin in another small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place that measuring cup in the water bath along with the emulsifying wax mixture to heat it up, stirring to blend everything together.
Heat the two parts in the water bath for twenty minutes, keeping an eye on the water bath so it doesn’t simmer dry. After twenty minutes the oil part will be thoroughly melted, the water part will be completely heated through, and the vegetable glycerin will be completely dissolved. Pour the water part into the oil part. Leave that measuring cup in the water bath for another three minutes to ensure everything is melted before removing the measuring cup from the heat.
Using an immersion blender, blend the lotion together. You’ll want to start with short bursts, working up to a constant blend. Blend for about three minutes, and then leave it it for ten minutes before coming back to stir it with a flexible silicone spatula and blending it some more. You will notice some thickening at this point, but it’ll still be pretty thin.
Leave the lotion for another ten minutes, and then stir and blend it again—at this point it should’ve thickened into a nice white cream and should be relatively cool to the touch.
Blend in your essential oils and preservative (though do check the instructions for your specific preservative—some have special instructions for adding to concoctions) and decant the mixture to a 120ml/4 fl oz pump-top bottle or wide-mouthed jar. Enjoy your Moraine Lake body lotion!
If you don’t have fir essential oil you can use pine essential oil or spruce essential oil instead. There’s a few different varieties of each (black spruce, white spruce, spruce hemlock, etc.), any of them will work.