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Emulsified Body Scrubs


After much time and toil, I finally concocted the my ideal body scrub.

In the past, I simply mixed olive oil and sea salt and enjoyed it just fine as an invigorating, polishing, moisturizing scrub, but it left much to be desired. It was hard to clean up after, in the tub, on my linens and on my skin. I love, love, love olive oil as a moisturizing body oil, but as a scrub it behaves quite differently, mostly because of the sheer quantity needed to be a vehicle for the exfoliating salt. It doesn’t wash off, which is bad because the salt needs to come off, unless you can lounge about your bathroom all day until it is dried (I fantasize about days like that).

The first modification I tried was making a lotion based scrub, using Rosemary’s Perfect Cream recipe (an all-time favorite) and mixing in the salt. It was a slight improvement. It too felt greasy in such large quantities; as a lotion only a tiny drop will do the job, so anything more than a pea-size dab is overkill.

I was just about the give in and buy one, taking the walk of DIYer’s shame into the New Seasons’ body care isle. But then I came across a recipe on the inter-webs for an EMULSIFIED sugar scrub WITH SOAP and WATER added. Brilliant! The castile liquid soap would make it sudsy and easy to clean off. My enthusiasm waned as I read the recipe. It called for all sorts of crazy ingredients: parabens, steric acid (not terrible, but not something I keep in my supplies), preservatives, fragrance oils, chemical waxes, that sort of thing. I didn’t have them around and I wasn’t about to purchase them nor use ingredients I can’t pronounce.

A week or two of tweaking and experimenting with proportions and ingredients led to a body scrub I can get behind. I used to sauna and shed my skin on a regular basis in Minnesota. Where we live now, I have just a few minuet to shower before all the hot water disappears. As you can obviously see, I am suffering an exfoliating deficiency, and this body scrub is my gateway to the land of everyday luxuries.

Basic Proportions for Emulsified Body Scrub

  • 29.5g  Shea and cocoa butter
  • 54g  Apricot kernal Oil and herb infused olive oil
  • 20g Candelilia Wax (a vegan, plant derived wax)
  • 5g Emulsifying Wax (plant derived)
  • 85g Water
  • 85g Castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
  • 600g Salt or sugar, ground to almost fine.

Yeah, I used grams. I am a metric type of girl. have a postal scale, but you could use a fancy kitchen scale.

I also didn’t follow this recipe to the “T”. But here are the basic directions:

  • Melt the solid butters (shea and cocoa) in the liquid oils by placing a glass jar (I use an old Pyrex measuring cup with a handle) in a hot water bath.
  • When melted all the way, add about half of your waxes into the oils. Stir until melted.
  • Remove oil jar from water, let cool for a few minuets on counter, then place in the fridge to cool for about 5-10 mins.
  • Check the consistency of the oil after it has cooled a bit. It should be a little thick and opaque with a little bit of a meniscus on the top, but not solid like a salve. If it looks 100% like oil, put the jar back in the hot water bath and add more of your waxes, a bit at a time. I usually melt and cool a total of two times before I like it. If you add too much beeswax, it will be much harder, like lip balm, and make a waxy scrub or lotion. To dilute, add more oils and melt, cool until you like it.
  • Pour oil into a mixing bowl. Stir a few times.
  • Pout the water and soap into the bowl with the oil.
  • Mix with a beater for 3-5 mins, until thick and creamy, with bubbles.
  • Stir in a preservative, if you like. I choose freshly wilted rosemary, which is a great antioxidant. Vitamin E oil or rosemary oil (not essential oil) work well, too. A teaspoon will do.
  • Pour in salt or sugar. Make sure it is ground finely, but not so fine that they are powdery. Stir until well absorbed.
  • Mix in essential oils, herbs, whatever floats your boat. Start with just a couple of drop of essential oils, don’t overdo it.
  • Bottle, label, use liberally and frequently for smooth skin. Store excess in the fridge to keep the oils from oxidizing prematurely. Keeps a little over a year.

Top left: Comfrey oil.

Top right: Chamomile oil.

Bottom left: Arnica oil.

Bottom right: St. John’s wort oil.

Start with quailty herb-infused oil. I like olive oil. Add skin-soothing herbs like calendula, chamomile, comfrey or plantain to a jar with a lid. Cover with oil, so the herbs are covered by at least two inches of oil. Let steep for 4-6 weeks, or longer. Shake the jar often, let it bask in the light on your window sill. Look inside to wipe out any mold that may be growing on the lid (happens once in a great while).


Top left: I don’t have the sunniest window, nor do I live in the sunniest town, so I helped my herbs steep a bit more by giving them a hot water bath in the crock pot. Use a warm setting for about an hour. Use a thermometer, the water should be under 110 degrees. I have lost more than a few batches by frying my herbs in the oil, which is what happens when the temp gets too high. Crunchy herbs are not good.

Top right: Strain the herbs, let sit for a few days, decant (pour off) the clear oil from the bottom of the jar goo. It’s not bad goo, it just changes the color and consistency of an oil. Save it for a salve.

Bottom left: Ingredients you may need.

Bottom right: Chunks of shea and cocoa butter floating in the liquid oils.

Top left: The oil is a little opaque from the wax, which becomes apparent after it is cooled a bit.

Top right: The water and soap is poured in, and is already getting a little creamy.

Bottom left: Whip it! Whip it good! One beater will do the job.

Bottom right: Smooth and creamy, light and fluffy after about 3-5 mins of beating.

Top left: Salt is a moisture-sucker. The salt scrub was much thicker, dryer, than the sugar scrub even though I used the same amount of each.

Top right: I poured some lovely green comfrey oil to thin it out a bit.

Bottom left: You can see that the salt scrub is still a bit dry compared to the sugar scrub.

Bottom right: Added even more oil; now it is better. Next time I will add less salt.

Experiment with herbs and oils for scent, visual appeal (aka beauty) and skin soothing effects. The options are endless!

Left top: Sugar scrub. Chopped rose petals and cardamom seeds. Just a litte bit of cardamom, it is pretty potent.

Right top: Salt scrub, with a tiny bit of ground juniper berries and orange essential oil. Very fresh smelling.

Left bottom: Rosemary mint salt scrub; chopped fresh rosemary and mint essential oils.

Right bottom: Sugar scrub, dried and ground chamomile and lavender mixed throughout. This one smells like a cup of tea, yummy!



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