I come from a long line of women plagued with the worst dry feet on the planet. My mother, grandmother and I have the type of feet that get severely cracked and sore. This happens every summer. I guess it doesn’t help that all three of us have a predilection for going around barefoot in the house and out in the yard and garden. I guess we just love the feel of the earth between our toes. Dry cracked feet is the price we pay for the freedom. Yes, wearing shoes and socks would be much more sensible, but we aren’t. Sensible, that is. There’s something earth mother-ish about running around barefoot.
Everybody swears by Bag Balm, and it has been around a long time. However, my grandmother was a dyed-in-the-wool do-it-yourselfer. She came up with this recipe, and we all think it’s better than Bag Balm. (No slur intended against BB. It’s great if that’s what you prefer!) She made her own balms and ointments all the time.
This recipe is very flexible. Use more or less of the key ingredients and you get a different consistency. You can experiment around to see what works for you. I’ll tell you what I do to get a firm consistency that is really effective on dried cracked and sore feet.
Basic Recipe Ingredients:
2 ounces shea butter (No. 1 key ingredient; relatively soft; very emollient)
1 tablespoon cocoa butter (No. 2 key ingredient; firm; has moisturizing properties)
2 tablespoons beeswax (No. 3 key ingredient; very firm; strong moisture barrier properties)
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil (No. 4 key ingredient; adds antioxidants; softening)
Don’t forget the olive oil.
2 to 3 drops rosemary essential oil (energizing, fights tension and fatigue)
2 to 3 drops sage essential oil (purifying)
2 to 3 drops peppermint essential oil (aromatic tonic)
2 to 3 drops red cedar essential oil (calm and balance energy)
4 to 6 drops tea tree oil (antibacterial, antifungal)
Digital kitchen scale
Hand grater (Don’t use a mechanical device. You’ll gum it up. Watch the knuckles.)
Measure out your shea butter.
I got a digital scale a while back and I love it. I always know exactly how much something weighs. Down to the decimal. It does other types of measurements, too. So, yeah, I love it. In the olden days an analog kitchen scale would have worked well enough. Put your shea in the top of the double boiler and set it to a slow boil. I don’t have a special dedicated double boiler so I use a stainless steel bowl set inside another pan. I put a clothes pin on the side so I have something that won’t conduct heat to hold on to and steady the bowl. Once the shea melts, and it will melt pretty quick, you can turn the heat off. You don’t want the shea to boil. You just want it to melt. Meanwhile grate your beeswax and cocoa butter.
Add it to the shea. Stir with a wooden utensil until everything melts and blends. Add your olive oil and essential oils. Stir to combine.
Take a whiff of the scent. You can add more essential oil as you like. Always add one drop at a time. You can’t take anything out so if you overdo it your goose is cooked. Easy does it.
Once you have it the way you like, let it set until it firms up.
If you find you like the consistency, warm it up again to melt and carefully pour it into your heat proof container.
The divot is where I stuck my finger in and used some!
Don’t be concerned if your consistency is too soft at first. This recipe “cures” and becomes stiffer in a few days so unless you want a very stiff consistency (which is what I like), you should go easy on the beeswax. Beeswax is what causes the ointment to stiffen. If you like it softer, I suggest adding a tablespoon more shea butter. I like it firm so I added a tablespoon more beeswax.
Use this on any part of your body that needs extra help. It’s great for feet, but it also works on elbows and hands.