Welcome Bee-Loving Friend!
I have a question…
Do you ever think about beeswax? No?
That’s strange because I think about it quite often.
Maybe it’s because I have beehives in my backyard or maybe it’s because I use it in so many of my homemade skincare products. It fascinates me almost as much as my little friends who make it.
It’s such a useful substance and it might surprise you but it’s actually good for you. Unless you’re allergic which, unfortunately, some people are.
So I decided to let you in on my 5 favorite ways to use beeswax…and what to use if you can’t.
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When it comes to the beneficial products that bees produce, the wax often gets overlooked. It’s just wax, right? Wrong. While not as showy as it’s super-food sister, raw honey, the benefits of humble this humble wax are both surprising and fabulous.
Here are some of the amazing qualities of beeswax:
Protective—when applied to the skin it provides a barrier from environmental contaminants. It holds in moisture and reduces dryness which is why it’s often used in lip balms. But unlike petroleum jelly, it is also breathable so it doesn’t clog pores.
Humectant—it’s a substance that attracts water molecules, helping to keep skin hydrated.
Antibacterial—just like honey, beeswax is antibacterial, keeping skin clean and reducing the risk of infection.
Vitamin A—it’s surprisingly high in vitamin A which means it helps in cell turnover rates, reconstruction and skin elasticity.
Anti-Inflammatory—like honey, beeswax is anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help soothe burns, eczema and promote healing of wounds.
What Is Beeswax?
The wax is made by the female worker honeybees (what can’t these girls do?) in special wax-producing glands on their abdomens. The gland is able to convert sugar from the honey into a waxy substance which deposits as flakes that the other bees collect and chew in their mouths. Once it is ready it is used by the bees to build honeycomb.
It’s in these cells that they store the honey, pollen and raise their young.
The wax is smooth, brittle, has a slight honey aroma and is even edible.
Newly made comb is almost white but will turn light yellow and eventually brown as it ages and the bees clean and reuse it.
Important Note: When you buy beeswax you can find it in white or yellow. Though you might think the white is just brand new comb, it’s not. It’s yellow comb that has been highly refined and bleached and I suggest you avoid it.
I always recommend that you buy yellow beeswax and buy it from a local beekeeper if possible. If you can’t find it locally, you can usually find it at a health food store or there are several sources online.
Beeswax is sold in both blocks or pastilles with the latter being easier to measure and use for recipes.
Here are my 5 favorite ways to use beeswax:
1. Skin Salves–I make all kinds of skin salves and beeswax is a key ingredient. Not only does it give the salve the proper consistency, it also provides all sorts of benefits to the skin. Whether it’s Fabulous Skin Salve, Eczema Skin Salve or Fabulous Sleep Salve, beeswax is an essential ingredient when making these awesome skin soothing products.
2. Lip Balm–I’m a bit of a lip balm addict but, really, who isn’t? The natural moisturizers in beeswax make it perfect for your lips. You can easily treat problems like cracked or chapped lips with the addition of other such lip softening ingredients as coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, raw honey and pure essential oils. This wonderful all-natural lip balm is sure to make anyone smile. Click HERE for the recipe.
3. Lotion Bars–Lotion bars are a great skin product that people may not be familiar with but will love once they use them. The skin boosting properties of shea butter and extra-virgin olive oil, along with my favorite essential oils, combine to make a lotion bar that will fight off even the driest skin. Click HERE for the recipe.
4. Wood Polish–Store-bought wood polish can have some nasty ingredients. Making your own only requires beeswax, coconut oil and a little essential oil. It takes just a few minutes to whip up, and it will make even your dingiest wood shine like new. Click HERE for the recipe.
5. Candles–Beeswax candles burn brighter, don’t emit toxic fumes like parafin candles and, because burning them emits negative ions, it actually cleans the air. I found an awesome post on making your own candles HERE.
Is It Possible To Be Allergic To Beeswax?
Well, the answer is yes and no.
The problem isn’t the beeswax as pure beeswax has not been shown to cause an allergic reaction in people. More likely the allergic reaction is caused by propolis which is a sticky resinous substance that bees collect from the sap of trees, usually poplar and conifer trees.
The bees blend this substance with wax flakes secreted from glands on their abdomens and use this “glue” to line the cells of their honeycomb and to fill in gaps in the beeswax walls. If you’ve ever tried to pry the frames apart when inspecting your beehive you know that propolis is nature’s super-glue.
Some propolis remains mixed with the beeswax when it is harvested. It’s the propolis (or rather, certain constituents in the propolis) that can cause the allergic reaction, also known as contact dermatitis, in people who are sensitive to it.
So what can you use if you are allergic to beeswax?
4 Alternatives to Beeswax (pros and cons):
1. Candelilla Wax–
from the leaves of the candelilla shrub native to the southwest, candelilla wax has the same lubricating properties as beeswax but is harder and much less pliable. Use half the amount called for when substituting for beeswax. Same price as beeswax but you’ll use half the amount.
2. Carnuba Wax (Carnauba Wax)–
extracted from palm trees that grow in Brazil. I’m wary due to the environmental problems caused by palm oil production. Like candelilla wax, carnuba hardens twice as hard as beeswax, so reduce the amount of wax used in your recipe by at least half when replacing beeswax with carnuba wax. Price is higher than beeswax but again you’ll use half as much.
3. Soy Wax–
while most commonly used in candles it can also be used as a replacement for beeswax in lip balms, lotions and other cosmetics. My concern with soy anything is that if it’s not organic it is genetically modified. And yes, 98% of the soy grown in this country comes from GMO seed. The other 2% comes from growers who don’t make wax. Not to mention 99% of all soy wax on the market contains other waxes like paraffin, bees wax and palm wax.
That said, soy wax has the same hardness as beeswax so it can be used in equal amounts in recipes. It is significantly cheaper than the other waxes but you get what you pay for.
4. Bayberry Wax–
made by boiling the fruits of the myrica bush and skimming the vegetable tallow (it’s not a true wax) off the water’s surface. Bayberry wax is very hard and brittle so use half (or even less) than the amount of beeswax.
Bayberry wax is quite expensive, hard to find and has a very strong, earthy, resin-like aroma that will not be covered up by other fragrances.
We love our bees and are constantly amazed by their hard work and productivity.
Beeswax is just one of the many benefits we humans derive from bees and I hope for all our sakes, we can figure out how to save them.
What’s your favorite way to use beeswax?