10 helpful uses for beeswax

Beepods Top Bar Hive Comb

Beeswax recovered from a hive that did not make it through the winter will be harvested or placed in another colony to increase success.

Beepods Top Bar Hive Comb

Beeswax recovered from a hive that did not make it through the winter will be harvested or placed in another colony to increase success.

In this post, the Beepods team shares some of their favorite uses of beeswax.  In a Beepods Vented-Top-Bar Hive, more wax is produced and will need to be cycled out over time.   Here are our 10 best uses of beeswax and some of our favorite recipes.

Beeswax is a powerful natural substance that is used to improve our lives.  Books have been written about its uses and historians have discovered artifacts and sites showing the effectiveness of beeswax throughout history.

Beeswax is produced in a colony during growth phases of the season to ensure that there is plenty of storage and comb to raise brood.  The production slows when the season provides fewer resources to the hive, like nectar.  Beeswax is produced in a honey bee’s wax glands, which are fully developed in 12 to 18 day-old worker bees.  The wax glands diminish their activity as bees age.  However, in emergency situations, wax synthesis can be reactivated.

Wax formation is powered by carbohydrates.  Studies show that depending on the strength of the colony, the ratio of sugar to wax can vary dramatically.  The chemical composition of beeswax is a fat soluble solid.  It is a mixture of long-chain fatty acids and a variety of over 284 different compounds that the bees obtain in nature.   Many of these have not been identified, but it is clear that the fat soluble nature absorbs everything the bees bring into the hive.  This means that it is essential to understand the origin of your beeswax when sourcing the product.

If you are developing your own commercial products to sell, be sure that you are purchasing as close to organic beeswax as possible.  In order to be certified organic, chemicals cannot be used on land within 3 miles of the beehive.  Even then, we know that bees travel up to 7 miles to find food and water and may even fly as far as 9 miles if resources are limited.  It is worth the time to research your source to create the highest quality and healthiest products even for you and your family.

Here are some of the Beepods team’s favorite uses of beeswax:

1. Balms and Salves

At Beepods, one of our favorite uses of beeswax is a key ingredient in Bee Better Butter.  The wax is critical to making sure that the balms and salves do not spoil.  The antimicrobial properties of wax and most products from the hive make wax the perfect ingredient in helping to prevent spoilage or souring of any of our products.  We add other natural ingredients and natural oils that take the basic properties of wax and augment the power of the bees.  

We have created balms that help to treat chapped lips and dry skin.  The Wildwood recipe has shown great results promoting faster healing of deep cuts and scratches and lessening the symptoms of poison ivy.  Other salves bring relief to sore muscles and joints or even help to calm down the most stressed individual.  

Here is a recipe that anyone can try at home for an Itch Relief Salve (Good for poison ivy, poison oak)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint sweet olive oil
  • 2 ounces of beeswax
  • 1 tablespoon of Chickweed Powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Comfrey Powder

Put chickweed and comfrey powder into sweet olive oil and simmer for 3 hours.  Strain and add beeswax. Pour the mixture into salve tins or jars.

2. Candles

Candles have been made from beeswax for centuries.  Beeswax has a variable melting point.  There have been many reports on what the melting point of beeswax is, and each of these reports comes from a different area of the world.  This variation is due to the range in plants and compounds the bees bring into their hive that affect the wax glands of the bees.   The biggest thing to keep in mind before molding the wax into candles is to purify it as much as possible.  This will create the highest quality and most consistent product.  

Here is a homemade recipe from DIYnatural.com for beeswax candles that calls for the addition of only a few other ingredients and tools.  

beeswax candles with cotton wicks hangingHere’s what you will need:

  • 12 oz. of beeswax, roughly chopped
  • 12 oz. organic palm oil/shortening
  • Mason jars
  • Square braided cotton wick
  • Kitchen scale – for weighing ingredients
  • Wooden skewers (cut in half) or pencils – to keep wicks in place
  • Newspaper to cover the work area
  • Large glass measuring cup for melting ingredients (Pyrex works great)

3. Wood/Furniture polish and sealant

The biggest reason to make beeswax-based furniture polish is less about the furniture and more about
the health effects of using synthetic chemical-based furniture polish.  The synthetic furniture polish can cause dizziness, vomiting, and many other symptoms if it comes into contact with your skin or is ingested.  More symptoms of furniture polish poisoning can be found on the
US National Library of Medicine Website.  By using a natural recipe, one can avoid any issues that come with even being nearby when people are using synthetic chemicals.  If you have kids or pets, this can be a huge advantage, as they may breathe freely and deeply with new, safe odors in the air.  

Here is an easy recipe to follow from Tanya at Lovely Greens.  

It calls for the following ingredients:

  • 150 g (⅔ cup) Beeswax chopped
  • 600 g (3 cups) Olive Oil
  • 30 drops of Anti-oxidant such as clear grapefruit seed extract or vitamin E
    (optional)
  • 10 drops essential oil (optional) – Woodsy oil blend or lavender are great scents.

We like to make sure that we are putting on at least one even coat, but if you have not polished the furniture in awhile, a couple of coats will be very helpful to create a longer protection and shine.

4. Leather shoe polish 

Sometimes, keeping an old pair of leather shoes or boots around is better than going out to buy a new pair.  I know I have a pair of shoes that I’ve used this recipe on just because the shoes fit me so well and I really do not like shopping that much.  So here it is.  This recipe is really easy and relatively clean.  

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup of food-grade linseed (flaxseed) oil
  • 1 tablespoon of beeswax

All you do is melt them together in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.  Once it is combined, pour into a small glass jar and label it.  

Wipe down and clean your leather shoes with a cloth, then apply the polish onto the leather with a soft cloth.  After a few minutes of letting the polish sit, buff with a clean soft cloth.  Check out LempoBee’s Blog for some great images of how well this recipe works.

5. Beeswax Soap

Soap in general is not a simple thing to make and can take a lot of time.  When we first started making soap, we found out very quickly that it doesn’t always turn out the way that it should.  Adding beeswax to your soap recipe will make the bar harder.  If you add honey, the lather will increase along with the moisturizing benefits.  

Here is a recipe that we have used that makes a very nice product that will be a great gift for upcoming birthdays or holidays.  It comes from the book Beeswax Alchemy.

6. Beeswax skin barrier for cuts and scratches

If soap seems a little intimidating, we suggest just purifying beeswax to use as a barrier on your skin.  If you have a small container of beeswax on hand, it works great if you have a cut, scrape or sensitive hands.  Unlike topical ointments containing petroleum products, beeswax allows your skin to continue breathing.  I will fill in small cuts with straight beeswax if I do not have my balm or salve nearby. It helps to stop the bleeding and is all natural.  It makes it heal a lot faster, as well.

7. Fire starter

For the outdoors person or camper, nothing beats a beeswax fire starter.  Trust me, I’ve tried almost everything to start fires.  During my wilderness survival training as an Eagle Scout, I wish I’d had a simple beeswax fire starter handy to make a small fire at night when it got cold.  A Beeswax Firestarter is very easy to make and uses only leftover materials from around the house.  

Here’s what you will need:

  • Leftover beeswax from a low candle, chunks or somewhere else
  • An egg carton
  • Some sort of lightweight material (Sawdust, coffee chaff, chopped straw, shredded newspaper)

Make in three steps

  1. Melt the wax (be sure not to overheat it, or it will burn)
  2. Fill the bottom portion of your egg carton with your lightweight material so that each divot is filled to the top
  3. Pour the melted wax carefully over the material and press down with an old teaspoon
  4. Add more lightweight material and repeat. It should not be soggy with wax, but the material should absorb the wax.  Keep repeating until you cannot compress any further

Here’s a link to someone who took some great pictures of their process.  

8. Ingesting beeswax can improve personal health in many areas

Besides being another replacement for chewing gum, beeswax has some positive health benefits.  Some studies show that ingesting beeswax, and some other plant waxes, lowers cholesterol in humans.  The wax esters or aliphatic acids and alcohols found in beeswax lower low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and raise high density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). The challenge with these studies is that they are hard to reproduce in multiple geo locations around the world because bees have access to different foods and densities of nutrients.  But scientists are working towards building honey bee nutrition to bring consistency to these studies.

Beyond cholesterol, beeswax has shown evidence of increasing liver health in the body.  One study executed by the Korean Journal of Internal Medicine evaluated the effectiveness of some compounds found in beeswax to improve the regular liver function in humans with fatty liver disease.

Read more health benefits of beeswax by Dr. Axe

9. Beeswax for food protection

If ingesting straight beeswax is not your thing, then consider using it to protect food grown in your garden.  It is a fairly straightforward process to glaze food with beeswax, but always be sure to purify the beeswax before application.  Wax and beeswax are used frequently to protect the food during transport to your grocer or produce supplier.  If they are using Food Grade Beeswax, you won’t be able to tell the difference between beeswax and synthetic wax.  But there have been studies done to show how it could affect your health.

There are others in the culinary world playing with beeswax to make sealants, crispers and delicious dishes.  Chefs and pastry chefs have identified numerous applications for this magical product the bees share with us.  You can read more about Liquid Gold in the kitchen here.

10. Lubricants

For millennia, beeswax has been used as a lubricant. The versatility and chemical structure of beeswax makes it an ideal multipurpose lubricant. Here are few ideas that we have tried personally that work:

  • Try greasing your baking pan with beeswax instead of butter or oil.  It works just as well, and gives a nice golden brown color to the bottom of whatever you are baking
  • Have a stuck drawer in your wooden dresser?  Pull the drawer out and take a bar of beeswax and rub it along all of the tracks inside the dresser and on the drawer.  It seals the wood from absorbing too much moisture and will protect the wood from deterioration
  • Stuck zipper on your coat, pants, dress, etc?  Take that same beeswax bar and rub it along both sides of the zipper.  It’s a simple way to handle a zipper that might be getting a little old or breaking down.
  • If you have ever tried to lubricate instrument valves, some of the stuff they sell at the store tastes awful if it makes its way towards your mouth.  Try beeswax instead.
  • Have a screw that won’t go in?  You can either melt down some wax and coat it that way, or just rub some wax along the threads and give it a try.  

There are so many ways that wax has been used to lubricate everything.  Just remember, wax is flammable and shouldn’t be used in some cases.

Conclusion

WE LOVE BEESWAX! We use it all over the place and we get a lot of requests for our beeswax from our manufacturers to use in their process. Our hive tool is coated in beeswax and keeps it from rusting and oxidizing.  Beyond that, Milwaukee Blacksmith uses our beeswax on a lot of projects, but we can’t supply them with enough.  That’s why we need more Beepods beekeepers.

Stay tuned for other recipes that we share or purchase a subscription to our Beepods Membership and get access to some special recipes that we share just with our Beepods Beekeepers.

 

Other Useful Beeswax Resources

Save the Comb

I tried the Burlap Bag Method for Rendering Wax & Here’s What Happened

Cleveland County Center – Beeswax

101 Uses for beeswax

Beeswax: Production, Properties, Composition and Control

 

 

 

Brad James
Brad James
Brad James is Beepods CEO. He covers the business of beekeeping and implementation of beekeeping systems from every angle -- as well as occasional other topics. Before joining Beepods, Brad has helped many startups get off the ground through implementing organizational strategy that leverages current personnel and implementing tried and true business processes that promote business growth and leadership development. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @BJJames23.

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