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You probably have it stashed in your handbag right now: That iconic saffron tube of beeswax lip balm with the addicting minty tingle has been a fan-favorite for decades—since 1991, in fact. That’s the year when co-founder Roxanne Quimby used a recipe from a 19th-century farmer’s almanac to create Burt’s Bees’ first mouth moisturizer in a little ceramic pot. Now, 30 years after the company was founded, it still remains its best-selling product. Here, we go behind-the-scenes of how this number one beauty staple gets made.
The main ingredient in the beeswax lip balm is…you guessed it…beeswax! Burt’s Bees sources their beeswax from a family of four farms in East Africa using wild-crafted bees. “The beeswax is much cleaner in Africa because there’s no contamination or pesticides in their wax” explains Celeste Lutrario, vice president of research & development.
To start the beeswax-making process, farmers hollow out logs from fallen trees in the forest, fill them with sweet grass to naturally attract the bees, and hang them in Baobab trees. The bees then make their homes out of these logs and create their hives inside. At any given time, there are approximately 40,000 bees in one of these hives.
After two to three months, the hive becomes full and the bees leave to create a new hive. Once this happens, the farmers harvest the honeycombs out of the filled log chiediteatro.it , which is made up of beeswax. The honeycombs get melted and filtered of anything other than beeswax till it’s colorless. Next, the farmers pour the clear wax in large square molds for shipment. Each log yields about 10 whopping pounds of beeswax!
The square blocks of raw wax get shipped to a distributor in New Jersey. There, the beeswax gets filtered again till it’s completely pure, then put through a machine that pelletizes it. “The pellets help the wax to melt easily and uniformly,” says Christy Morton, assistant plant manager.
In the lip balm, the beeswax is used as a moisturizer, emulsifier, and as a thickening agent, and provides benefits that other moisturizers and emulsifiers don’t—hence the careful process to produce the ingredient. “A lot of lip balms use petrolatum as their main ingredient, which is an occlusive or closed barrier, so nothing can enter and nothing can escape from the lips,” reveals Lutrario. “The problem is that once moisture escapes, none can get back into your lips with petrolatum. Beeswax, on the other hand, creates a breathable barrier—so it’ll hold moisture in but also allow more hydration to come through. It actually actively moisturizes your lips.”
The rest of the ingredients get pre-weighed by batch and separated into standard pots and bowls that any home would have. “Our manufacturing facility is just like any other regular kitchen, but our batches are a bit bigger,” says Morton. Besides beeswax, plant workers measure out other innards including coconut, sunflower seed, soybean, and canola oils; rosemary leaf extract; and the ever-present peppermint oil to be made into lip balms.
Fun fact: The entire factory was saturated with the scent of zippy peppermint oil, which even permeated through our clothes and lingered on us for hours after we left.
The recipe then gets dumped into three separate tanks to be mixed and melted together—all of which can hold up to 500 kilograms each. “This amount is actually quite small compared to standard plant practices, but Burt’s Bees purposefully keeps our batches small because we have to fill the formula quickly in order to preserve the freshness of the natural ingredients in this balm,” explains Morton.
The first tank sifts the beeswax and combs through all the pellets to separate everything out.
Next, all the oils and remaining ingredients get added to the beeswax in the second tank, which mixes everything together.
In the third tank, the recipe gets melted down into a smooth liquid. It takes two hours from start to finish to stir and melt in these three-step tanks, and the plant only makes two to three of these batches a day.
The result: There is enough liquid to fill 100,000 lip balms in this hot melt tank!
The concoction then gets transferred to the lip line in the factory, where plain goldenrod plastic tubes get sifted and situated to receive their fill of the elixir.
The empty tubes travel through the filler machine, which stuffs 600 lip balms a minute!
Once filled, the balms go through a series of two heating and cooling units to prevent them from cracking as they harden. “This double process allows for the most uniform stick,” affirms Morton.
Next, the capper machine pushes all the caps onto the sticks once they’re completely cooled.
Finally, an orienting and labeling device takes the balm chiediteatro.it , finds the center, and situates it correctly before it gets dressed with a label. The lip balms then get sorted into boxes and are delivered to the distribution center where they’re shipped all over the world. In total, the plant makes 300,000 lip balms a day!
After all’s said and done, it took a rough approximation of 70 bees to produce enough beeswax for a single tube of lip balm. And that’s how the honeycomb crumbles.
How Your Burt's Bees Lip Balm Gets Made – Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
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