October 23, 2016

Hannah Glasse's Revolutionary War Era Lip Salve Recipe

Mr. Fribble: I’ll endeavour to muster up what little spirits I have, and tell you the whole affair. Hem ! But; first, you must give me leave to make you a present of a small pot of my lip-salve. My servant made it this morning: the ingredients are innocent, I assure you; nothing but the best virgin-wax, conserve of roses, and lily-of-the-valley water. 

Biddy: I thank you, Sir, but my lips are generally red; and when they an’t, I bite ’em. 

Mr. Fribble: I bite my own sometimes, to pout ’em a little; but this will give them a softness, colour, and an agreeable moister. Thus let me make an humble offering at that shrine, where I have already sacrificed my heart. 

Miss in Her Teens; or The Medley of Lovers 1747

Colonial Lip Balm Recipe

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy was a best seller 100 years after it was first published and was a huge success in the American Colonies before and after the American Revolution. It's the go-to book on English cooking in the 1700s but Hannah Glasse also included this lovely gem of a recipe for how to make lip salve. It's great protection for lips in the chilly months.

The book went through numerous editions, and while most recipes stayed the same, the lip salve recipe changed between printings. The salve recipe given in the 1774 edition is much more resource intensive and intricate, by the 1778 printing the recipe was pared down to a few ingredients. Whether this change was caused by the rising prices in Britain due to the high cost of war in the colonies which raised taxes in England is speculative but not implausible. The 1774 recipe called for pricey ingredients such as sugar, spermaceti, and Balsam of Peru but only 4 years later a simple mixture of beeswax and lard.

I am excited to share this recipe because it is so quick and easy. Also the base recipe is so basic, it can be used for almost any time period by varying the pigments and scents. It's important to note that men and women alike used lip salve, with tint or without tint despite the changing makeup trends for men throughout the century.

18th Century Cosmetic Makeup Recipe

Hannah Glasse's 18th Revolutionary War Era Lip Salve


- 8 ounces Hog's Lard
- 4 Tablespoons Beeswax, shaved to tiny pieces
- Alkanet Root, soaked to release the pigment (or food coloring)
- Lemon Oil

Equipment: For home use (not over a fire, in period basins) I found the following equipment helpful.

- Glass measuring cup
- Empty tin cans with a spout made by using pliers.
- Tins/containers to hold your salve. I find it helps to have an Altoids tin or something similar in case there is any extra salve. 1/2 the recipe makes 125 grams.


Open your tins. Heat the lard and wax in a dish with a spout or measuring cup. If using a microwave, just heat the mixture in 30 second increments until it is fully melted. If using the stove top, you may want to create a double boiler by half submerging your measuring cup in water. Once combined, let cool for a minute or two until the measuring cup is safe to handle. Add scent, and coloring if desired and stir in with a skewer. Pour into your tins, being careful not to spill the hot liquid on yourself. Let cool until the liquid solidifies. Put the lids on the tins and use.

**If you are making more than one variety, divide the mixture into your cans. Add the scents and coloring as you please and pour a small amount into your tins. Let sit until cool enough to handle but still liquid. Scents of the time period include: Rose, jasmine, violet, nutmeg, orange flower water.1

*** You can also substitute ethically sourced palm oil as a vegetarian alternative to the lard as it has the same density.

18th century Colonial Lip Balm Chapped Lips Remedy

1 Buc'hoz, Pierre-Joseph. The Toilet of Flora. London: Printed for W. Nicoll, 1772.


  1. I'd love to try making this lip salve. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You should! It's so easy and quick and I honestly don't think I'll be buying lip balm from here on out.


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