Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Lip Balm, Or Death Of A Microwave

Lip balm and cutting boardThe snow has come and gone, and then come and gone again. It’s been a wet fall, but with the transitions from rain to snow and back again, we still don’t have a lot of the white stuff on the ground.

The chickens are happily pecking away in their new coop and run, and I do feel better having them in a fully insulated coop, now that the night temperatures are getting into the single digits. They’re all huddled on the perch, snuggling to stay warm. At least now I can flip a switch and they have heat. Last winter it was warming a piece of granite on top of the woodstove and then running it out there to try and keep them warm. I like that they won’t be in my living room this year. At all.

But the weather has limited the outdoor activities. I don’t mind warm rain or cold snow, but cold rain is annoying. I don’t want to go hiking and there’s no snow for skiing, and with such a little piece of property, even mine and Pico’s walks have been on the road. It’s not too bad, but he’s still getting used to the leash again, and I miss being able to  let him run around on his own.

One benefit of this type of weather though is that I don’t feel too bad doing indoor projects. A couple months ago I made a new cutting board and read that it could be sealed with beeswax. I had a huge block of wax handy, and so I spent the evening melting wax, rubbing it on the board, and then heating the whole thing in the oven over and over to make a nice sealant for the cutting board.

I used the board the next day, and most of the wax came off when I washed it. Seemed like a good idea, but in reality, it just didn’t pan out. I got some mineral oil and treated the board, and it’s now nice and waterproof. But I still have a huge block of beeswax.

So I had to figure out what I was going to do with the wax. I didn’t want to make candles, as I used to make them all the time out at the cabin. I would melt down the little stubs of the candles I burned for light. So as I was sitting on the couch one day, my stepson asked if we had any lip balm. His lips were chapped and he wanted some relief.

I ordered empty lip balm tubes and picked up some peppermint essential oil and coconut oil in town, and waited patiently for the tubes to arrive. And as soon as they did, I thought I’d have my answer of what to do with all that beeswax. Making the lip balm should have been really simple. Melt the oils and wax together, pour it into the tubes, and let them cool.

I would have done the whole melting process on my woodstove, but hey, now I have a microwave! We gathered all the materials, and he was pretty excited. After making him wash his hands a couple of times (who knows what a nine-year-old is doing when out of sight) we got into it. After thirty seconds in the microwave, the beeswax was barely melted, but that was apparently enough for the microwave. It was dead. It was also bad timing, since I had promised this kid his very own lip balm.

We moved to the range top and managed to melt enough to make a few tubes of the lip balm. It’s got a menthol-coconut taste that all three of us love, and it works really well.

I love having the convenience of modern appliances, and the fact that whole process didn’t require a headlamp was a really nice touch, but I was reminded of the frailty of electronics. Sure, it would have been slower on the woodstove, but the woodstove wouldn’t have died in the middle of the project.

Related Stories

Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

One Response

  1. Bill Ott says:

    I sealed my all-leather boots with the beeswax, probably about the same as the cutting board. Boots in oven at 200 degrees, wax melting in cup in saucepan on stove top. Multiple brushings, rotating in and out of the oven. Then threw them in the car, and two weeks later went to put them on. Stiff as heck – ten minutes each to work the boots onto the feet. But they were waterproof, and I will use it again. Never was happy with mink oil or snow seal.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox