Beeswax is a familiar product since it is a common wax option for candle making. It is in demand because it is all-natural and organic, which most appeal to consumers. Beeswax is priced higher than other waxes because of how it is made and where it came from. In fact, the use of beeswax has been observed in ancient pottery by the Neolithic people.
Beeswax is a product derived from honeycomb made by bees. The color variations are caused by mixing food components such as pollen oils, stains, and even dirt to the wax, giving it a yellow to brown color. If fresh, the beeswax appears white.
Aside from the fact that beeswax is obviously from bees, there is still a lot to know about where it came from and how it ends up in our candles. To begin, here are the major things you ought to know that you can add to your knowledge bank.
- Beeswax 101: The Natural State of Beeswax
- Beeswax Collection and Storage For Candle Making
- The Bests of Beeswax For Candle Making
- Other Uses of Beeswax Aside From Candle Making
Beeswax 101: The Natural State of Beeswax
Knowing the natural state of beeswax will help you distinguish those that are altered or processed from the natural ones. If you have this knowledge and skills, you can select the best out of all beeswax options to make your output even more quality.
The Ultimate Source of Beeswax
Beeswax came from the building material used by bees in their combs. It is made from the collected nectar. Bees convert nectar to honey and, along the process, form wax in their bodies. This wax builds up and creates the combs, which are then collected to produce beeswax.
Beeswax is only manufactured and can be sourced from honeycombs through natural processes. The beeswax rendering is simple but takes time and will take a lot of honeycombs and nectar to produce one pound of pure beeswax.
The Makers of Beeswax
From the word itself, you will have the idea that beeswax came from bees, but perhaps like me, you may wonder what bees make beeswax.
Bees are nectar collectors, and they bring it to the hive, where the honey is somehow converted to beeswax. Although not all bees in a colony form the wax, certain bees can perform this function effectively.
Female worker bees around the age of 14 to 21 days produce a liquid from their special glands when they gorge on honey, and it becomes wax when it comes in contact with air.
The young honey bees are the best, while the older ones may not be as good as the former. Other worker bees will help scrape the wax produced in the glands from the body of other worker bees using their mouthparts, then chew on it and shape it to the comb.
Making honeycomb is energy and resource-requiring, especially since beeswax is produced only from this natural process.
Therefore, the formation of beeswax is a group activity in the colony, which adds up to how special it is from other waxes in the market.
This work of engineering and architecture by the bees is dubbed a triumph in the natural world since it is efficiently made to hold a good amount of honey, even in a small area of the comb.
The Natural Color of Beeswax
As mentioned, beeswax is one of the most natural products you can get for candle making. You may have noticed that beeswax comes in different colors, but the fresh beeswax color appears white.
Then it darkens as it ages, reaching around the orange to brown hues due to the dirt, stain, and oils from pollen that the honey bees bring together as they collect nectar.
Fortunately, the color does not take a toll on the quality of the wax but rather more on the aesthetic appearance.
The color is also affected by the post-harvest processing wherein there are means to purify the state of the beeswax, which can also result in the color change.
The Natural Smell of Beeswax
The smell can be indicative of the process a product has undergone. Suppose you smell a medicinal scent from your beeswax, then there is a high chance of being altered by using chemicals.
Naturally, if beeswax is untouched, it will smell of honey. However, note that the scent may not be as strong as another beeswax. Just remember that there will always be a hint of a honey smell in natural beeswax.
The smell may also be affected by the bees’ diet, what flower nectars they usually feed on, and the time of collection.
For inexperienced candle makers, beeswax may appear the same, but in the smell and sight of an expert, the difference is surely easy to tell.
Beeswax Collection and Storage For Candle Making
Before beeswax can reach our workspaces, certain collection and storage techniques are done to make it available to the market. Below are the major steps.
Extraction and Processing: From Raw Form to Your Candles
There are many ways to extract beeswax from the hive, but the ones that most bee farms use are by collecting the comb where honey was extracted. Beeswax processing is simple, and rendering it to export quality involves only simple methods.
Honey can be collected by cutting off a wax cap using a special knife. After removing the honey, the case that holds the honey in the hive is collected and processed for residue removal and is turned into beeswax.
This residue or scrap is melted, not letting it reach boiling point. The scrap is composed of bee bread, pollen, dirt, and other stuff that the bee may have added during nectar collection.
After melting and when the residue is allowed to cool, the wax floats on top, and the honey or other junk sinks in the bottom. Then, you can scrape the top layer to render wax.
The melted comb is strained to remove impurities and junk, then placed in molds to solidify. There will be little beeswax produced in one honeycomb. Therefore beeswax in large quantities is produced by bee farms and processed using machines.
If you plan to make beeswax from home, you can read this article about the tips and tricks on burning it effectively.
Storage and Packaging
In storing the manufactured beeswax, there will be no big precaution. The important thing is to store it in a place away from sunlight and keep it clean. Beeswax storage is also simple since there is no special packaging requirement.
It is recommended to store beeswax in smaller shapes rather than storing large ones. It would be best to wrap these sizes in plastic to avoid dust sticking onto the wax.
You can melt the beeswax and then pour it into smaller containers like tin cans and cover it for fresh packaging. Please keep it in the mold, put it away safely, and pop it out once using it.
What is amazing about beeswax is that it has a higher melting point, making it easier to transport and transfer from one place to another because it does not melt easily.
Commercialization and Pricing
Beeswax for candle making is sold by weight. You can also choose from white and yellow beeswax that you want to use in your project. The price may vary depending on the purity and quality you want to get.
For pure, unbleached beeswax, 1 lb may cost you around ten dollars. The no bleach wax which appears white can be used in projects like cosmetics or if you aim to add colorants to your candles.
Most beeswax is made into pellets and packed, making it easier for the consumers to weigh them and melt them in their kitchen for whatever project they are working on.
Since beeswax collection is taxing, you can expect it to go over ten times higher than paraffin wax. It costs a lot since it is produced naturally and safe for anyone and undergoes a refining process before reaching your work areas.
In addition, it will take a lot of nectar to produce only one pound of beeswax and a lot of hard work from the bees. Despite its price, it will certainly be one wax worthy of its tag.
The Bests of Beeswax For Candle Making
Wax is the candle’s fuel, and the quality of wax can dictate how the candles will turn out. Beeswax is an expensive type for your candle compared to others, and this might cause you to think twice, but here are the best reasons why beeswax might be perfect for your candles.
Beeswax Burn Very Clean and Bright
Beeswax emits the most warm-colored brightest flame among all the waxes available for use because of its higher melting point. It burns slower also because of its density and is comparable to soy wax for burning the longest.
You will be spending your penny worthily if you choose to buy beeswax because of its natural characteristics. However, you may have to compensate it also for resources on melting since it melts less fast than other wax types.
Beeswax Gives A Natural Scent
When you use beeswax, you will notice a faint hint of honey from the smell. Beeswax gets this scent from the nectar and honey that is the primary component of its composition.
It also gets more unique since the scent may vary depending on the diet of the honey bees ranging from wildflowers to fruits. Regardless, beeswax gives this very natural scent that is certainly relaxing and pleasant to the nose.
Beeswax Are Gentle To The Environment
Since beeswax is naturally produced, they are gentle to the environment. They have little impact since they are byproducts of the beekeeping industry from honey production.
They can be classified as a renewable source as long as the bees population is kept in check. Bees also play a major role in pollinating our other food sources and crops, making them amazing insects.
Suppose you use beeswax in your project. You will not worry about how it will degrade in the environment because it is organic and a part of the natural world.
Beeswax Are Non-Toxic
In using any product, you should always check its safety. Beeswax tops the list of the non-toxic options you can use for candle making. When it burns or emits vapor or smoke during melting, it does not give off harmful chemicals that may put you at risk.
As beeswax burns, it somehow purifies the air by giving off negative ions that reduce particulate matter in the atmosphere.
While working on beeswax in candle making, you will not have to worry about health-related concerns.
Beeswax Have A Lot of Health Benefits
Some people even eat beeswax, and it is likely safe as a part of food or medicine; however, some could have allergic reactions to it. The use of beeswax in food components can reduce high cholesterol levels and be a healthy source of good fat.
Heads up that it will not be ideal for eating it directly from the honeycomb without making sure it’s cleaned, processed, and ready for consumption.
It may also be hard to digest, and you will not get anything nutritional from it when you eat it raw and fresh from the hive.
The negative ions emitted by burning beeswax candles may also stimulate the brain to awaken creativity and other brain functions.
It is also ideal for people with respiratory sensitivities like asthma since it neutralizes pollutants in the air. On top of it, beeswax candles are a good relaxer since they are good aromatherapy agents.
Beeswax Does Not Depreciate and Deteriorate Over Time
The good thing about beeswax is it does deteriorate as it ages. Some natural waxes can oxidize over time which can be a worry if you store them for a long time.
Unused candles made of natural wax such as soy or plant-based waxes can lose their color and scent over time. On the other hand, beeswax retains its natural fragrance longer than the other wax types.
This means that you can store them longer in your stash and use them when you need them.
Other Uses of Beeswax Aside From Candle Making
Candle making is just one of the many uses of beeswax, and aside from this, you can use your beeswax supply in other aspects. Here are some of the other uses that might be a first for you.
Cosmetics and Nutriceuticals
Beeswax has been used in cosmetic products for quite some time now. It is used as a skin enhancer and moisturizer and is commonly a component of all-natural lip balms.
It is also an ingredient in eye shadows, eyeliners, and blush. The natural lubricating property of beeswax makes it ideal as a safe ingredient for cosmetic products and other commodities like shampoo that gives the hair a good shine.
Leather Burnisher and Wood Lubricator
If you are interested in leatherworks, you can use beeswax to burnish leather edges and waterproof them.
You can apply them by gently gliding them on the edges and rubbing them with a wood slicker. The friction created between the leather and the wood slicker will take out the moisture inside, melt the wax and smoothen the edges.
For wooden doors that screeches when opened and hinges studded with rust, you can also let beeswax do its magic. Rub it on the surface or in the mechanical joints, and it can be a quick fix to your basic problem.
Use In The Thread Industry
Beeswax is an important ingredient in the thread industry. It is used to wax threads that are used in leather crafting.
Threaded wax is ideal for leather projects since it smoothens the thread to glide through the hole easily without a fuzz.
It will also keep the thread from tangling as you go along the stitching and produce neat and pretty stitches, adding to the aesthetic factor of your crafts.
Coloring Material Component
One worry of parents or teachers handling kids is ingesting harmful compounds like lead found in coloring materials. If this also applies to you, you can also use beeswax as a component of your coloring materials or a DIY crayon.
You can melt it and make it an activity for the kids. You can add pigments to the melted beeswax for the desired color. You can let the kids play with the beeswax since it is non-toxic and safe to handle.
However, note that the resulting crayon may not be as good as commercial ones. To achieve a good color, you may consider adding carnauba wax and cocoa butter to the beeswax to achieve good color.
Fruit Coating For a Longer Shelf Life
Beeswax, sunflower, and coconut oil are used to coat fruits. Beeswax shown to reduce moisture loss and preserve the appearance and firmness of fruit, especially as it is transported.
More on The Industrial Uses
Beeswax is also used for polishing flooring in building, some CD electronic components in music and film. It also has a role in art since it can be used as casting for models and incorporated as a special lubricant in mechanical parts.
You can also use beeswax as a shoe and furniture polisher, and many more. In fact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, there are more than 300 uses for beeswax in many industries.
It is considered a cash crop and a valuable export commodity in some countries and has been included in world trade since 1994.
Beeswax is a valuable component of candles, and I think knowing where it comes from will make us appreciate the beauty of candles and candle-making more. Through this article, you will have many ideas, not just where beeswax came from but what other projects you can make from this priceless product of nature.