I get ragged on because of my use of ‘home pharmacy / lab experiments’ – including the use of homemade ‘embro’. Well, it’s cheap and it works. If you want to spend 3000y plus for literally 3 rides worth of brand – (http://www.rapha.cc/rapha-embrocation-1) that’s your biz – but you can mix your own for a fraction of the cost AND tune it to your likes:
Base: All embro has some kind of base ingredient. Either oil or wax or combo. I like the combo, best. I use beeswax and almond oil or olive oil primarily. But, hell, you can use anything. Corn oil, motor oil, Bacon Grease, whatever rocks your boat. Bees wax you can get online from candlemaking supplies or splurge at Tokyu Hands. How much beeswax you use is up to you – but I generally use about 1 part beeswax to about 5 parts oil. The wax-oil will really ‘stick’ in your pores and seal them up good. More wax, the harder it is to massage in, less wax and it will erode quicker in weather. Experiment.
Embrocation is a ‘living pot’ , once you get a tub of this going, you can just add to it with whatever you like. If I want a more ‘massagy’ potion – then I’ll add more oil – if I want a more ‘protective’ potion then I’ll up the wax content a bit.
Other base stuff you can throw in there to feel like you’ve done your research:
1) Shea Butter – a really good skin moisturizer and conditioner. Especially if you are shaving or epilating – shea seems to help quite a bit to avoid the ‘roughies’.
2) Glycerin – another moisturizer and surfacent. Glycerin is pretty good at binding stuff together, so when you have mixed oil, wax and other stuff that has high moisture (water) content, adding some glycerin will keep it together and act more as an emollient than pure oils / wax.
Goodies: Essential Oils of this and that, hair of bat, tinctures and other stuff for good luck (and riddence) of bad juju, fungii, etc.
- Tea Tree Oil: I guess you can’t go wrong with a few drops of this stuff. it ‘supposedly’ cures everything from the mange to rabies. It has some antiseptic properties and hey, you never know when you might need THAT! In case of road contact-to-skin, barbed wire, etc.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract: Falls in a similar category as the Tea tree Oil. Though a little stronger on the anti-fungual properties. We’ll toss some of this in there, too, just to keep Mr. Toe Jam at bay.
- Bergamont, Lavender and other essential oils. More for the smell than anything, but it can’t hurt, right?
ACTIVATION: You need to add some energy to the mix. So this is where you create the HOT or COLD or both side of things.
- Capsicum Oleoresin: The mack daddy of fire. You can make your own or just buy it off the ‘net. A few drops of this and ‘heat to taste’. be very careful when you handle this stuff – and whatever you do, do NOT handle your <other parts> after messing with this!
** Neutralizing a Toxic Capsicum Event – Use a dilute mix of Chlorine Bleach and water. Wash thoroughly with this , THEN rinse with another dilute solution of Distilled vinegar and water. Keep this around when you are home brewing! BTW – you cannot drink Chlorine, but you CAN drink vinegar. So, in case someone in your household accidentally licks the chopstick you were using to mix up the batch – you have some first aid ready. (Don’t Ask)
- Oil of Peppermint : This gives your batch a bit of ‘ICY’ feeling. it has menthols in it. For additional COOLING kick, you can add real Menthol Crystals.
- Anything Menthol: What gives your embro the COOLING feeling. For winter, you may not want much of this. But it IS refreshing and I actually put a small amount. The whole Ying Yang thang , I guess.
Pharma: You can also add stuff that will / may have more of pharmaceutical effect as well. Though , I’m not a pharmacist – so you’d better not take this info seriously (disclaimer) and whatever you do , is your own responsibility here. (another disclaimer), So, if you end up in the ‘mergency room suffering from some alien hand condition, palsy, skin eating chemical burn or whatever – DON’T BLAME ME! Go buy some 3000 Y RAPHA and trust yourself to That!
- Methyl Salicylate: Could be put in the ‘goodies’ category, but this is pretty strong stuff. It acts as an antiseptic AND astringent. And has a pretty good COOLING kick as well.
- Salicylic Acid: The pharma version of basically liquid aspirin. Topically its known as a rubefacient and has liniment properties. Use with caution.
- Lidocaines: Found in many numbing creames. This is a topical anesthetic and should only be used under a Doctor’s recommendation (more disclaimers) . But for a special Embro, a bit of topical anesthetic is pretty darn helpful when you’ve got ‘kit rash’ or ‘road rash’ issues. Bear in mind – you don’t normally embrocate with the HEAT type of formula on road rash or kit rash regions of your skin!
- Voltaren: This comes in gel, cream, dermapatch and even internal. As a topical gel or derma-patch, it’s a very strong NSAID-type pharma. Again – get a Doctor’s order for this stuff. But, I have used it successfully with my Embro especially around the knee area.
Other Special Mentions:
1) You can conbini-embro easy! Just grab some of the ubiquitous chili oil (like for gyoza) and tub of margarine. I used this at Yahiko a couple years ago. The other riders looked at me like I was insane – but hey, I was totally COMFY on the climb with water beading off my legs like the back of a duck!
2) Bacon grease or Lard. Hey, back in the day my Nonna (now more than 98yo) used to lard us up when we crashed on the road, ran through blackberries getting chased by Bears, or generally had ANY strained, bruised or other problem short of requiring an amputation. Her top secret formula is still, well top secret cause even she can’t remember it anymore. But it STANK and it WORKED. My rough guess is that it had a bunch of mint oils, pepper oils, lard and maybe some Skunk Stank in it.
Stealth Pro Factor: Nothing more than embro spells, er smells, PRO. You put this on and hit the peloton and everyone knows you are PACKED FOR BEAR. The psychological effect is astounding. The other phreds are suffering in the cold, shivering, soaking up water faster than an Fremen in Seattle and you are all smiling and hey , ‘what’s the hassle here?’. Plus when you blow by them on the attack, you are giving them the wift and the waft off! Like they somehow forgot something – that you didn’t!
My current selection of ’OTC’ liniments and balms. I subject my limbs to the hazards of ’live testing’ so that small animals, children and sane people don’t have to!