Beeswax is produced by honeybee “worker” bees. They secrete it from glands on the underside of their abdomens then chew it up and mold it into the cells of the combs. That’s why they call them worker bees. It’s a big job for the beekeepers, too, who collect it from the hives and melt it down into cakes. (At least they don’t have to chew it.) The reason beeswax is a bit pricey is because for every 100 pounds of honey harvested, a beekeeper will get only one to two pounds of beeswax. It’s not easily come by, but maybe that’s also why beeswax is so very, very wonderful.
In candles, beeswax smells delicious, requiring no added scent, and it burns longer and cleaner than other waxes. It also has beautiful, natural color.
My latest batch of beeswax candles.
Beeswax has a melting point of 143-148 degrees. I prefer it for container candles. For tapers, you need a wax with a higher melting point. The best way to make beeswax tapers is to buy pressed beeswax sheets and roll each sheet tightly around a wick. (Dipped beeswax can make messy tapers that puddle. I prefer to use taper wax–see Hand-Dipping Tapers.)
You can also use beeswax to make lip balms, skin creams, and herbal salves. When I was researching beeswax, I found the same recipes in multiple places, so I’m not sure of the original sources. (Probably our great-grandmas.) The recipes I’m posting are ones I’ve experimented with and found useful. The first one is for a beeswax cream that is really nice for the hands in the winter.
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FYI, these measurements are by volume, except for the beeswax, which is by weight (weighed before melting).
Beeswax Moisturizing Cream:
4 ounces sweet almond oil
1 ounce beeswax
2 ounces water
8-10 drops essential oil (optional)
8-10 drops Vitamin E
Melt the almond oil and beeswax. Remove from heat and stir in the water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Stir as it cools–before it becomes too cool to pour, transfer to a container (or divide between smaller containers).
You can also make a super easy “Vaseline”-type moisturizer by combining 1/2 cup baby oil per ounce beeswax. After you melt the beeswax, remove from heat and stir in the baby oil. (You can add a few drops of essential oil, too, if you want more scent. I really like beeswax just how it smells naturally.)
There are beeswax lip balm recipes all over the place, but this is one I like that is a Burt’s Bees knock-off.
Beeswax Lip Balm:
1 teaspoons grated beeswax
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon lanolin
liquid from one Vitamin E capsule
2 drops lemon or orange essential oil (optional)
1 teaspoon honey
Melt everything together with the beeswax in a microwave-safe bowl (except for the essential oil and honey). If you don’t want to use the microwave, you can also place the ingredients in a little custard cup inside a pot of water on the stove; heat gently to melt. Remove from heat and stir in the essential oil and honey. Transfer to a small container. (This even tastes good.)
You can make a healing salve with different essential oils, depending on what you need, such as tea tree oil (good for cuts and burns).
2 ounces beeswax
1 ounce jojoba oil
3 ounces sweet almond oil
1/2 ounce vegetable oil
*Research the specific essential oils you are interested in before determining the safe quantity to use for your purposes.
Melt beeswax together with jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and vegetable oil. Remove from heat. Stir in essential oil, if using. Transfer to a container. You could also mix in various crushed herbs instead of using essential oils.
Beeswax is also the ultimate furniture polish.
Beeswax Furniture Polish:
2 ounces beeswax
1/2 pint turpentine
1/4 ounce lemon or orange essential oil (optional)
Melt the beeswax. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the turpentine. Add the essential oil, if using, and keep stirring as it cools. Transfer to a container. This makes a creamy polish that is great to lovingly rub into wood.
Aside from polishing, beeswax is a great protectant and waterproofing agent for wood. I love this recipe for “Spoon Oil” that was posted on the CITR forum by Buckeye Girl here.
16 ounces mineral oil
4 ounces beeswax, cut in chunks
Warm the mineral oil by placing the container in a pot of warm water. Place beeswax in a wide-mouth jar and melt in a double boiler. Remove from heat and slowly pour the mineral oil into the melted beeswax. Stir as it cools. Use to rub into wooden spoons. Also great for reviving cutting boards.
Bees always scare me a little bit, but I love their stuff!
*Make things with beeswax safely–see my guidelines and precautions for melting wax here. You can find beeswax online at craft and candle suppliers, etc. Lanolin, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and sweet almond oil can be found online at health and beauty suppliers, and a lot of the same places where you buy soapmaking and other craft supplies including essential oils. (These are not expensive supplies other than the essential oils, if using.)