The incredible properties of beeswax have come to light and more people are wanting to work with this amazing ingredient! But it’s important to understand that not all beeswax is created equal. Here is what you need to know about beeswax.
As a homesteader, I love to prioritize every part of everything I use. How can I breathe new life into it? How can I make sure it doesn’t go to waste?
Enter in – beeswax.
I have friends who are beekeepers but they wonder about what they can do with their wax! After digging around for ideas, inspiration finally struck me. And out of that, my beeswax lotion bar was born!
But beauty products aren’t the only thing you can create from beeswax. Other natural products, like beeswax candles and even future honeycomb cells, can be created with beeswax!
But did you know there are different types of beeswax? And each type serves a different purpose.
Here’s what you need to know about the different types of beeswax.
Main Types of Beeswax and Its Forms
You can source your beeswax from local farmers in your area, or do research and purchase from Amazon.
If you purchase processed beeswax from Amazon, know that you will be working with less impurities. If you purchase pure beeswax locally, you will have extra steps to render any potential impurities from your beeswax.
Beeswax absolute is the scent of beeswax in its original form. It’s extracted from the hives itself and distilled down for its vanilla and honey undertones. Most commonly, it’s used in perfumeries for those undertones. But it can also be used as a base ingredient in beauty products.
Yellow Color Beeswax
Yellow beeswax gets its yellow color from the pollen and pigmented plants around the hive. Those pigments are called carotenoids and exhibit yellow, orange, red, or even purple tones.
Carotenoids are found in bell peppers, cantaloupe, carrots, and many other plants.
Yellow color beeswax is used largely in beauty and skin care products.
Yellow-colored beeswax is what you may find in natural skin care products. But that’s not what you truly need to be looking for. If you’re looking for beeswax to make your beauty products, you need to look for cosmetic-grade beeswax. While the yellow color is associated with beeswax, that cosmetic-grade label is what lets people know its intended purpose.
Cosmetic-grade beeswax will also have you working with something like the Food and Drug Administration, should you decide to sell your products.
The color of beeswax may also be described as beeswax ranges or the grades of beeswax. These can range from brown to white, with yellow to dark yellow in between.
White Color Beeswax
Some say white beeswax is beeswax in its purest form because the pollen and other influences haven’t been mixed with the wax.
Others say beeswax is secreted from worker bees as yellow or brown and is refined to become a bright yellow or white.
Whatever you believe, it’s critical to understand whether or not your white beeswax has been chemically processed, or even bleached. That’s right! Even though beeswax is accepted with a yellow pigment and can be bleached naturally, there are instances where neither of those is the case!
Traditionally beeswax is bleached using the sun. White color beeswax may even be ultra-filtered, removing any pollen or outside pigmentation that may influence its color.
White color beeswax is used as a stiffening agent in beauty products, other care products, and if rated, even food! You may want to choose white color beeswax if you’re already working with a pigmented product and you want to make sure your desired pigment shines through.
White color beeswax may also be preferred in a product like beeswax candles, where plain, white wax is what’s traditionally sold.
Wait a minute – did you say beeswax is in food? No! Food-safe beeswax is intended for products that will be used around food. Think of things like beeswax polished charcuterie boards or reusable beeswax wraps.
Pure beeswax is what is created by bees inside their hives. Sometimes, bees will cap their honeycomb with wax. Other times, they will build their comb with the wax.
Pure beeswax will smell like sweet honey or vanilla, but may also smell like whatever wildflowers the bees were pollinating that year. It’s incredible to see how the scent changes based on season, and even based on the location of the bee hive!
Pure beeswax may also have a slightly brown color. Again – this is due to the beeswax in its natural state. While it’s pure, that means it hasn’t been unfiltered. You’re sure to have something like pollen or other remnants of nature in pure beeswax. Thus, you will need to filter it out.
Because of its color, pure beeswax may not be the best choice for your intended application. If not, check out the options that we’ve already talked about!
Beeswax pellets are made from dipping beeswax as they harden or by a particular mold. Beeswax can also come in weighted bars. That weight usually depends on how big or small the mold of the beekeeper is.
Almost all beeswax pellets are guaranteed to be natural beeswax pellets. White beeswax pellets, or almost any type of beeswax for that matter, are natural beeswax.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the pros and cons of beeswax?
The pros to beeswax seem limitless. It’s a naturally sourced ingredient, it smells incredible, and it’s known to do great things as this sort of magical ingredient. The way that it interacts with nature is just exciting to research!
Some of the cons, though, are quite persuasive. Beeswax can be hard to source. And when you do source it, you have to be responsible and ensure the bees that produced it have more than enough to continue living. Because of the sensitive nature of how you harvest it, beeswax can be more expensive than other waxes on the market.
What type of wax should I use?
Why do you need beeswax? That will tell you the type of wax to use. Are you creating beauty products? Use cosmetic-grade beeswax. Are you creating a beeswax wrap for food storage? Use food-grade beeswax.
How Beeswax is Harvested
It’s important to know – how your beeswax is harvested will depend on what kind of frame you have. If you have an artificial frame, you will be able to scrape beeswax caps from your frame, exposing honey within the honeycomb cells.
But if your honey bees are creating their frames, they will create them out of their wax. In that case, for the longevity of the hive, you may consider not crushing the frame to harvest your honey and beeswax. If you crush the frame to get the wax, you are putting more work on your bees.
The process to build a frame and start producing honey varies based on the hive. But some suggest it could take as long as two months! Not ideal if you’re harvesting your honey right before winter when your bees will need it most.
Because of that, it’s no wonder beeswax can take a long, long time to harvest. We are letting bees do great work!
Wax caps are the seal honey bees create to keep honey in their hives. A beekeeper may use a very specific tool to remove the wax caps.
After removal, the wax is set aside to let any honey settle. The wax is then heated to render out impurities. This would be the time to remove those impurities and measure the honey into something like a one-ounce bar. That way, when the honey settles, it’s easier to manage and track.
Honeycomb of the Honeybee
As we talked about before, the honeycomb of the honeybee is where honey is stored. But it serves other purposes!
Honeycomb is also a home to baby bees (a nursery if you will) and a short-term place to store pollen.
Again – this is why a beekeeper may opt to keep honey bee-made honeycomb instead of crushing it! While the thought of honeycomb wax is tempting, it truly is a home to the honey bees living there.
Melting beeswax is simple. In a double boiler, melt your beeswax. Ta-da!
You may want to melt your beeswax in the microwave, but you run the risk of scorching your beeswax or even having it boil and paint the inside of your microwave. In most cases, people who work with beeswax use throw-away metal containers because it’s incredibly difficult to clean. With that in mind, I would encourage you to melt your beeswax in a double boiler.
With warm water and sal suds, I’m able to get beeswax removed from the glassware I use to melt my beeswax! I hope that tip helps you and you have similar luck.
Beeswax has a melting point of around 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re able, be sure to keep any water out of your beeswax as it melts in your double boiler. Water will spoil your beeswax when it hardens and you transfer it to storage.
Per my research, when stored properly beeswax has an indefinite shelf life. However, many in the cosmetic industry may say beeswax beauty products have a 24-month (2-year) shelf life.
On the left is white, pellet beeswax. On the right is raw, unfiltered beeswax. What an incredible difference!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use beeswax on my face?
Beeswax has been used topically in cosmetic products for a long time. It’s a great way to keep moisture in your skin and create a barrier against environmental irritants.
Is white or yellow beeswax better?
Beeswax that has not been processed will be truer to pure beeswax. This is usually yellow beeswax because the pigment has not been processed out of the beeswax. However, both serve their purpose and one is not “better” than the other.
Did you know I have a line of beeswax beauty products? Check out my shop here! If you want my most popular product, order my beeswax lotion bar at this link. If you want to learn how to make it yourself, head to this blog post.
Benefits of Beeswax
Beeswax is an incredible way to make sure nothing goes to waste! It’s also a widely known, natural substance that’s great to include in any cosmetic and beauty products you may want to produce.
And let’s be honest – you don’t need another good reason to support local farmers! Ask around and see if beeswax is something you can buy from your local beekeeper.
There is also a ton written on how beeswax has been used in the past. Let’s take a closer look at what those uses are!
Uses for Beeswax
Beeswax has an incredible, floral smell that’s simply unmatched. And depending on what hive you draw your wax from, your beeswax may smell and look different!
Beeswax also forms a barrier when applied to the skin. However, that barrier doesn’t let environmental influences in and it doesn’t let moisture out. But it also doesn’t clog pores. It truly is a sort of unicorn in nature! When God created the bees He truly gave us something to marvel at.
Beeswax has been used in furniture polish because of the barrier it creates over the wood surface. It does a great job of preventing water from getting to the wood! A little also goes a long way.
What else could you use a beeswax polish for? Do you have a leather coach? Or shoes that need a new shoe polish? Don’t limit yourself to wood products! There are plenty of other materials that need a protective barrier against water.
Just to note – if you plan on using beeswax polish on something like a cutting board, wooden spoon, salad bowl, or countertop, you must choose food-grade beeswax since this is considered food preparation.
There are several variations of beeswax candles on the market today. If you’re looking for a gift for a friend, consider purchasing beeswax pillar candles. If you’re looking for an everyday use for around the house, consider votive candles.
Beeswax wraps have grown in popularity because they’re a great way to achieve a recycling mindset. Instead of using plastic, we’re using fabric and food-grade beeswax!
Just like my beeswax lotion bar, you use the heat from your hands to make your beeswax wraps pliable. When you’ve situated your beeswax wrap appropriately, it will keep its seal as it cools and begins to harden again.
Just to reiterate – you must use food-grade beeswax when working with products that will go around food. General use beeswax will not do.
Other Bee Products
We have talked at length about beeswax in this post, and everyone knows how great honey is. But there are other bee-produced products that we can use today!
Propolis is created by bees as a sealant for their hive. Some take propolis as a supplement. Bee pollen is gathered at the entrance to hives, usually shed by bees as they enter the hive. Bee pollen is also eaten by some as a supplement!
God truly gave us a marvel when He created the bees!
I love working with my local beekeepers to turn their beeswax into beauty products they can enjoy! If you are interested in creating the same products, here are a few links to the products I personally use.
Please note that these are affiliate links. That means when you make a purchase using one of my links, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Learning Life!
These silicone molds are a favorite of all of my customers.
Sal suds is the only thing that will get beeswax off of my glassware!
I prefer glassware when I am creating a double boiler.