What Can Beeswax Be Used For?
Beeswax, along with honey, is another multipurpose honeybee product produced in the hive. Because of its firm, crystalline structure, beeswax forms the hive construction — the honeycombs, where honey is stored.
Due to its composition and therapeutic properties, it’s been used for different purposes since ancient times. Beeswax is a common ingredient in the cosmetic and food industry, as well as in the pharmaceutical industry and traditional medicines. As it’s very simple to use once melted and cleaned, it’s a vital accessory in every household as well.
What Is Beeswax Made Of?
Beeswax is produced by younger worker bees, which are between 12 and 18 days old. It’s secreted by special wax glands in their abdomen. Beeswax, which is firstly in liquid form, solidifies when in contact with air. Before this happens, bees add pollen and propolis to the wax and shape the mixture into the comb cells.
The pure beeswax is almost white and turns darker when in contact with honey and pollen. It doesn’t dissolve in water or cold alcohol. This hydrophobic property of beeswax makes it widely used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food industries. Beeswax will dissolve partially in boiling alcohol, and completely in chloroform or hot turpentine.
Beeswax composition depends on bee genetics and diet. The mixture consists of more than 300 components. The main ones are hydrocarbons, free fatty acids and alcohol, diesters and exogenous substances.
Beeswax in the Household
Man has been using candles made of beeswax at home and in religious ceremonies for a very long time. However, having an extra piece of beeswax at home, you can make your wooden furniture benefit from it the most.
Using Beeswax With Wood
The simplest way to use the wax with furniture is to make the drawers in your home slide easily. It couldn’t be more simple — slowly rub a piece of wax on the runners of the bottom of each drawer until it starts sliding smoothly.
Another great way to use the beeswax with your furniture is to make a wood polish:
- Grate the wax and mix it with turpentine (2:1)
- Add some coconut or other natural oil to the mixture
- Apply the polish to the wood using a cotton cloth, and let it rest a bit
- Brush the excess polish off and polish the thin wax film well. That will leave your furniture shiny and protected, but not greasy
- Store the polish in a well-sealed tin or bottle
Beeswax has a high melting point, so they burn more slowly and keep their shape for a longer time. It’s great fun to make them, too, and they’re an aesthetic asset in a household.
A beeswax candle can be made by molding, dipping or rolling.
- Liquefy the wax by placing it in a pot over a water bath heated at 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pour the wax in different silicone molds and wait for the wax to become firm again
- Speed up its hardening by putting it into a freezer for half an hour
- Heat the wax over a water bath and pour it into a bigger pot when liquefied
- Start dipping the candle wicks in it. After each dip, leave the wicks up in the air
- Now dip the candles into a pot of cold water, so the wax gets firm
- Repeat dipping into the wax and cold water alternately until you reach the preferred candle thickness
Rolled candles are maybe the easiest to make. However, you need to purchase special wax sheets in advance. After cutting them, you can start rolling them around the wick. Rolled candles can be thin or thick, and tall or short.
Beeswax in the Kitchen
Beeswax is safe for human consumption. However, it can absorb fat-soluble toxins from the environment. If stored near chemicals or pesticides or if the hive has been contaminated with them, the beeswax will probably start releasing them in time.
Nevertheless, beeswax is a well-known food preservative — E 901. It’s used as a glazing agent and a carrier for colors on confectionery and similar pastries. Using beeswax is also perfect to prevent spoilage of jams or jellies. A thin coat of wax needs to be applied over the food, and that’s it!
To avoid using plastic, metal or aluminum covers for jars, you can also make food wraps from beeswax:
- Spread a few pieces of clean, unbleached fabric on your cookie sheet
- Grate some beeswax on top of the fabric and put everything in the oven for a few minutes
- When the beeswax becomes liquid enough, use a brush to spread it all over the fabric equally
Let it cool and use it on bowls, plates or even for wrapping sandwiches. These kinds of wax wraps are easy to handle and clean under cold water. They should last for several months.
Beeswax in Cosmetics
Beeswax doesn’t irritate the skin, and it’s non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog your pores. Rather than that, it has a softening and antiseptic effect on the skin. Beeswax structure makes it form stable emulsions, whether we use it to make creams, lotions, lipsticks, deodorants or soaps.
For water-based cosmetic products with beeswax, an emulsifier must be added to form a stable liquid emulsion. However, if you’re interested in making a DIY beeswax lip balm, the process is very simple:
- Mix shredded beeswax with coconut or jojoba oil (1:2) over a water bath, until the mixture temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit
- Remove from heat, and stir slowly
- When the temperature drops under 140 degrees Fahrenheit and the mixture starts to thicken, add a few drops of essential oils
- Pour the mixture into balm jars and let them cool to room temperature
- Don’t forget to seal them well at the end!
Beeswax Used for Healing
In the pharmaceutical industry, beeswax is used for the coating of drugs and pills. Furthermore, it’s often mixed with other drug ingredients for the delayed drug-releasing effect.
Beeswax as a Home Remedy
You can use beeswax as a home remedy in different ways. In case of mild skin rashes, burns or even hemorrhoids, apply a mixture of beeswax, honey and olive oil to the affected area. Repeat multiple times daily and continue for up to one month if necessary. This mixture has antibacterial properties and no side effects.
Beeswax and Thermo-Therapy
Warm beeswax is excellent to use for thermotherapy — the treatment of muscle, nerves and joint inflammation. All you need is liquid beeswax and a piece of soft cotton cloth. It can be used several times.
- Dip the cloth into the wax and let it cool on a straight surface
- Before using it, warm it up in the oven at a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit
- Place it on the inflamed body part
Beeswax – a Multipurpose Weapon in Every Household
Mankind seems to be slowly going back to nature, and hand-made, organic products are re-gaining their value rapidly. Whether you’re an artist, carpenter, confectioner, have an organic skincare business or simply a DIY person, beeswax is something you should be working with.
Beeswax may be less affordable compared to other types of wax available on the market. Nevertheless, it stands out also for its numerous therapeutic and convenient physical properties.