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Crafting With Beeswax

beeswax

Candles are one of the many things you can create with beeswax

You don’t have to be a beekeeper to love beeswax. Honestly. This hive product is malleable, versatile, and gentle on the skin, making it perfect for crafting. If you’re not familiar with beeswax or you want to know more, read on, my bee-loving friend. We have all sorts of beeswax pointers to get you started (or to refine) your DIY journey. 

beeswax

Candles are one of the many things you can create with beeswax

What is Beeswax?

Beeswax is a fragrant, malleable wax that goes from brittle to soft and pliable depending on the weather. It’s a material produced by bees (for bees) using eight wax-producing glands located on their abdomens. The younger bees are the more robust wax-producing members of the hive; Aging bees’ wax glands begin to atrophy. 

Once the bees extrude the wax, they chew it and mold it into the shape of a hexagon, forming the cells of their hive. These cells hold the queen’s eggs and serve as storage containers for honey and bee bread. Bees are the epitome of locally-sourced. 

The hexagonal shape of beeswax is a feat of engineering – truly – as it’s one of the most efficient shapes in nature in terms of maximizing storage and minimizing resource expenditure. It takes bees eight ounces of honey to produce one ounce of wax, so efficiency is a concern for our fuzzy yellow and black friends.

Since the bees work so hard to make their wax, we don’t want to waste any of it. Beepods recommends if you have a top bar hive, that you harvest your honey by crushing the comb and straining the honey out. Then, you have fresh comb leftover to use for household items and bath products. Whether you harvest yourself or order online, what do you need to know about beeswax?

 

Beeswax Properties  

Beeswax has slight variations in its properties based on where the bees are located and what they forage on. Generally speaking, beeswax is made of:

 

  • Hydrocarbons (15%)
  • Esters (71%)
  • Free acids (8%)
  • Many, many other compounds (200+ identified!) in smaller quantities (6%)

 

When beeswax is cold, it is brittle to the touch. In hotter temperatures, it becomes soft and can be manipulated. At temperatures greater than around 140°F, the beeswax will melt. When bees first produce the wax, it is called virgin wax and is lighter in color, nearly white. Once processed and utilized in the hive, the wax darkens to yellow or shades of brown and contains:

 

  • Pollen
  • Silk
  • Larval debris 
  • Propolis

 

As you might have guessed, beeswax is insoluble in water. Inert and resistant to acids, some studies show that beeswax has antimicrobial properties, specifically against some of our more common pathogens. This includes yeast, E. coli, staph, and strep bacteria. It is also great for maintaining and healing our largest organ: the skin! 

Beeswax’s hydrophobic properties make it ideal for use in skincare; it soothes, softens, and protects. There are lots of studies that show beeswax products can help heal rashes, wounds, and other abnormalities. When using beeswax to craft there are a few safety considerations to keep in mind. 

 

Beeswax Safety

Beeswax is flammable. In fact, that’s exactly why it’s been used for hundreds of years as the main ingredient for candles. Its flammability is an attribute to be aware of when working with this hive product. 

As noted before, beeswax melts around 140°F and should not be heated over 170°F as it can burn. We recommend you use a double boiler method to melt your beeswax when crafting, keep a close eye on it (don’t walk away!), and don’t jack up the temperature to make it melt faster. 

Especially if you’re crafting with kiddos, don’t leave your beeswax (or your kiddos) unattended to. 

If you have sensitive skin, beeswax is a great option. However, if you have any concerns about allergies (perhaps you have a bee allergy), you might want to do a patch test first with any products you create. Instructions for a patch test are as follows:

 

  • Take a small amount of your finished product and place it on intact skin on the back of your hand
  • Leave in place for about an hour
  • Monitor for any signs of redness, itching, swelling, hives, or irritation
  • If you notice any abnormalities, refrain from use and consult with your medical provider

 

Especially if you incorporate essential oils into your beeswax products, it would behoove you to do a patch test before extensive use.

Beeswax is a non-toxic product that is generally safe to use when you keep these important tips in mind. It can also be used to make a wide array of household goods and beauty products.  

 

Beeswax Uses

You can get beeswax in raw form (if harvesting yourself or getting some from a friend with a hive). Generally, it can come in blocks, pellets, or in full comb form. Regardless of what form you choose to use, you can make all kinds of DIY goodies. 

Since beeswax is great at keeping moisture in and keeping undesirable stuff out, it can be used to make common household goods like cutting board conditioner (check out our recipe book for a detailed recipe) and homemade beeswax wraps

When it comes to skincare, beeswax gets top marks. It can be used in anything from balms to salves, and homemade lotion bars. When mixed with oils (olive, coconut), shea butter, and essential oils in different quantities, it can yield all sorts of skin-soothing remedies. If you pick up our recipe book, you can even learn how to make propolis-infused oils to incorporate into any of the beeswax recipes you come across and want to make. It adds an extra healing punch. 

See our recent blog about propolis to learn more about this equally fascinating and useful hive product.

Propolis: What Is It and What Does It Do?

 

So, what can you make with beeswax? Here’s a list:

 

  • Balms
  • Salves
  • Candles
  • Mustache wax
  • Firestarters
  • Food wraps
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion bars 
  • Cutting board conditioner
  • Sunscreen
  • More!

 

You can find recipes all over the Internet for these DIY projects, but if you’re interested in walking through the process of using hive products, we do offer a course specifically for balms and salves. Additionally, we sometimes post recipe walkthroughs on our Instagram account (@beepods), so give us a follow and join the crafting adventure. 

 

Final Thoughts

While the pandemic we are facing is a defining moment for our world, something the scale of which most of us have never experienced, it’s an important time to work together. We can use the behavior of bees as our model, efficiently and tirelessly working for the good of their colony. 

Not all of us are on the frontlines (and as a data-driven company we greatly appreciate the scientists and healthcare providers out there right now), but we can all do our part. 

Since many of us are at home, we can choose gentle action with ourselves and the loved ones in our homes. We can expand our hobbies, craft together instead of apart, and if you live with somebody on the frontlines, make them a homemade craft out of beeswax for them to enjoy in their moments of reprieve. Together, we will get through this. 

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Caitlin Knudsen

Caitlin Knudsen is a content writer for Beepods with a passion for lifelong learning and psychology. She is an avid gardener, grower of houseplants, and does recipe development and food photography in her spare time.
Caitlin Knudsen
Caitlin Knudsen is a content writer for Beepods with a passion for lifelong learning and psychology. She is an avid gardener, grower of houseplants, and does recipe development and food photography in her spare time.

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