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How to Make Petroleum Jelly- Naturally

Those little jars of petroleum jelly (commonly known by the brand name “Vaseline”) are found in the cabinets of most homes.  Why not?  This highly moisturizing substance is used for everything from chapped lips to squeaky hinges. But today, more people are looking for natural alternatives to products made with chemicals.  It is very easy to learn how to make petroleum jelly at home – without the petroleum please.

Why Making Natural Petroleum Jelly is a Good Idea

Homemade petroleum jelly in a glass jar.

Unrefined petroleum jelly is a gel-like substance – a byproduct of the crude oil industry. In the mid 1800’s Robert Chesebrough noticed workers on the oil rigs using it to treat wounds and burns.  He was intrigued by the product and invested time and money into purifying and refining the jelly.

Eventually he was able to create a lighter substance that we know as “Vaseline”. The production of Vaseline continues today. It is a brand name that is used synonymously with the phrase “petroleum jelly”. Now a household staple, it is used in many different applications – including cosmetics. 

However, there is some concern regarding the safety of petroleum products for skin care. Before being refined, petroleum jelly contains carcinogens. Refined products should be safe. But, people are questioning the process. Exactly how “refined” must something be before it is safe?

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That is one of the biggest reasons for learning how to make your own petroleum jelly product – without the crude oil ingredients or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We can make a natural product that works much like the commercial brands.

Labeled ingredients needed to make petroleum jelly.

Simple Ingredient List

Do not worry about a complicated ingredient list for homemade Vaseline.  You only need two items.

  • Beeswax
  • Olive oil

Beeswax

Beeswax is a natural wax that is made by honey bees. Produced from glands on their abdomen, this wax is shaped into the hexagonal cells that make up honeycomb. Thankfully, bees do a great job making wax and are able to produce more than they need.

There are a multitude of uses for beeswax in and around the home. It is a good idea to keep some on hand – it never spoils. A recognized moisturizer, beeswax is often used in skin care products commercially and homemade.

To make petroleum-free jelly, you only need a small amount of beeswax. It is available for purchase in blocks or pellets. You can also purchase raw beeswax from a beekeeper – but be sure to clean raw beeswax properly before making your natural Vaseline.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a staple in most kitchens so you likely have a bottle on hand. In addition to using it in food recipes, it is also useful in many recipes for homemade products. It can be used in substitution for coconut oil when making hand lotion.

Additions

This most basic recipe of homemade Vaseline only requires those two ingredients. You will be able to use it externally in the same way you use the purchased product.

However, some people choose to a small amount of an essential oil for the increased healing properties they can provide.

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Take care to use only those approved for skin contact and only the amount recommended on the label. Natural essential oils are powerful and should be used with care and respect. Two popular oils used are:

Another possible addition to consider is vitamin E oil. An anti-oxidant, it is a popular additive in body care products. I use a few drops in many of my salves and soap to extend the life of the oils.

How to Use It

Being a combination of oil and beeswax, your homemade Vaseline excels as a moisturizer. It locks in existing moisture and forms a protective seal.

Apply a light coat to dry skin to ease discomfort. It is also soothing for rashes, scrapes and minor burns. Other uses include:

  • polishes dry leather goods
  • softens cuticles before using nail polish – helps prevent messy manicures
  • serves as a water barrier for wound care
  • soothe earlobes after long earring wearing
  • ease crack corners of mouth
  • helps prevent rust on tools
  • apply to minor cuts

More Homemade Salves to Try

Okay, technically – perhaps I should not call this petroleum jelly since it does not have any crude oil by products. But, that is the commonly used term we all recognize.

Whether you use the brand name we have grown up with or the generic term “petroleum jelly”, this product definitely is useful in many different applications.

Making salves and ointments is actually a lot of fun. Many of them use similar ingredients with a few tweaks here and there. My DIY Vapor Rub is great for the season of colds and sniffles.

For those of you into herbal applications, consider this recipe for Plantain Salve – I love the green tint. You can also use flower petals to make natural calendula salve or even dandelion salve.

I enjoy using products from my beehives to make natural products for the family. You can do the same. With a few simple tools and a little patience it is not hard to make your own salves.

FAQs

Is petroleum jelly and Vaseline the same thing?

Vaseline is a brand name for a spreadable substance that has been in use for over 100 years. The main ingredient of Vaseline is petroleum jelly.

Do dermatologists recommend Vaseline?

Yes, most dermatologists are fans of Vaseline for skin care. It does not clog pores and helps repair dry skin.

What chemicals are in petroleum jelly?

Petroleum jelly contains hydrocarbons. This mixture of oils and waxes has not changed much in the last 100 years.

DIY vaseline jelly on a wooden skewer.

DIY Homemade Natural Vaseline Tutorial

Charlotte Anderson @ Carolina Honeybees, LLC
Using only 2 simple ingredients you can make your own petroleum jelly – without using crude oil by products. You only need a little beeswax and olive oil in the right proportions.
5 from 2 votes

Supplies
 

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 ounce beeswax (net weight)

Instructions
 

  • This project is as easy as it gets – you simply need to melt the beeswax and combine with your oil.
    Begin with your beeswax – you can melt it in block form – but shaving the wax into small pieces or cutting it into smaller chunks makes melting faster. Of course, you can use purchased beeswax pellets too.
    Small blocks and shaved beeswax .
  • Begin by setting up a double boiler. I have one I love for projects – it is dedicated to working with wax. Water in the bottom pot (saucepan) allows for safe melting of beeswax. Place prepared wax in the top pot.
    Double boiler pots with bits of beeswax in top.
  • Heat gently on medium-low heat until all of the wax is melted into liquid form.
    Small stainless pot with melted beeswax.
  • Slowly pour olive oil into the melted beeswax. Stir to combine (I use a wooden skewer). If the cold oil thickens the beeswax, set the pan back on the hot water bath for a minute.
    Pouring olive oil into pot with melted wax.
  • Remove from heat. If you want to add any essential oils – now is the time. But, you don't need to.
    Pour the mixture into a warmed glass jar that has a lid. Leave to cool for at least an hour. Add lid and label to mark the jar.
    Pour recipe for petroleum jelly into cooling glass.

Notes

Expert Notes
  • It is not the safest way but some folks use the microwave to melt beeswax.  If you do so – use short times and do not leave unattended.
  • A bit of skin safe essential oil can be added but you don’t have to do that.  Plain is just fine.
  • Prior to pouring the hot mixture into the glass jar – warm the jar with hot water.
  • Once set, stir your homemade Vaseline to mix it up well and avoid a top crust.
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