Beeswax: The Bee's Knees
Beeswax is a marvel of the natural world, with a never-ending array of uses. From lip balm and candles to furniture polish and food wraps, beeswax is the environmentally-friendly material you must-have in your home. Take it from the bees themselves; have you ever seen the inside a bee hive? It’s incredible. Everything is orderly, clean and functioning. It's the epitome of a well-oiled machine. You too can live in an eco-friendly and non-toxic home by following their simple example.
WHAT IS BEESWAX?
Beeswax is a by-product of honey production, produced by the (female) worker honeybees. The wax is secreted from wax glands on the underside of the bee’s abdomen and is moulded into six-sided cells which are filled with honey, then capped with more wax. When honey is harvested, the top layer of wax that covers the cells, the cappings, must be removed from each hexagon-shaped cell.
Bees use propolis (from the Greek, meaning 'defense of the city'), derived from resins and essential oils from local plants and pine trees, to 'glue' together with the wooden frames in their hive, which later must be forcefully scraped off so the frames can be separated. The beeswax, which contains some honey, bee parts and other impurities, must be melted and filtered before use. While most beeswax is the familiar gold or yellow colour, it can also come in shades of orange, brown and amber. The colour of the wax is in most part determined by the type of plants the bees collect nectar from. Beeswax has a delightful, light fragrance of honey, flower nectar and pollen.
If you wonder why beeswax is so expensive, consider this: It is estimated that bees must fly 50,000 km and eat around 3 kilos of honey to produce one kilo of wax. For every 45 kilos of honey a beekeeper harvests, only .5 to 1 kilo of beeswax is produced.
WHY IS BEESWAX AWESOME?
Without going into too much detail, here are the top ten reasons:
Like honey, beeswax has antibacterial properties, which help to keep things clean and reduce the risk of contamination. For this reason, alone it is a ubiquitous ingredient in skin treatments. It's no great wonder human beings have been using it medicinally for millennia.
Beeswax is an entirely natural substance, straight from Mother Nature. Honey bees consume honey and pollen to produce the wax, and the extraction process doesn't require any additional materials.
Since it comes directly from bees and is non-toxic, beeswax is completely environmentally-friendly and an essential ingredient in a wide range of eco products, such as candles and polish.
As it is delicious, it's obviously a great source of delight for anyone fortunate to eat it! In conjunction, as it is non-toxic, it is safely used in cosmetics like lip balm, wherein it might be ingested.
Beeswax contains a natural, powerful protective substance called propolis, which shields beeswax from going off. This protective quality is so effective that unspoilt beeswax has even been found in the remains of ancient civilisations!
There is an excellent reason beeswax is such a common ingredient in lotions, salves and balms; it helps lock in moisture. So it's perfect for making products to nourish dry and chapped skin.
Beeswax has long been used as a sealant and waterproofing agent for belts, tents and shoes. By rubbing beeswax onto a surface like leather then heating it, the wax seeps into the materials’ fibres and blocks water from passing through.
Unlike candles made from other wax, beeswax candles burn brighter and cleaner as they emit negative ions that are known to help purify the air. The natural aromatic is delightful too.
Beeswax is also thought to have anti-fungal properties preventing the growth of yeasts and other fungi. Again, this is why it is commonly used in the manufacture of food and cosmetic-related products.
10] It has more uses than you can imagine! For just some of these, please read the below section.
HOW TO USE BEESWAX AT HOME
Beeswax is an incredibly versatile natural ingredient for DIY beauty and home products. If you haven’t already, try beeswax in these homemade recipes:
This one works so much better than store bought. Beeswax helps form a natural protective moisture barrier. Avoid sweat stains on clothes without the need for harmful and unnecessary chemicals. Recipe here.
We think these are the best moisturisers in the world! This perfect combination of oils, shea butter and beeswax forms a solid soap-like bar that can be used on dry skin. It helps soothe skin, locks in moisture, and even has natural anti-wrinkle properties. Recipe here.
3] Lip Balm
You can make dozens of homemade beauty products with the same set of simple ingredients. This lip balm recipe uses the same ingredients as the lotion bars but with a couple of added ingredients for scent or colour. Recipe here.
Use it to buff your favourite furniture, floors and leather items like bags and shoes. You can easily make it with ingredients you probably have lying around your home. It will treat your goods much nicer than any chemical alternative. Recipe here.
Ditch the overpriced scented candles and air fresheners and go natural! Fill your home with natural beeswax candles; they're easy and fun to make yourself. Recipe here.
Beeswax is often added to soap recipes to make the finished soap harder and last longer. It should only account for up to 2% of your soap recipe. Try an essential oil soap variation, recipe here.
7] Baby Balm
Most babies will have a diaper rash at some point. Adding beeswax to diaper rash cream will work as a thickener and provide a protective barrier for the skin, helping the other beneficial ingredients stay on the skin longer. Recipe here.
8] Cracked Heels & Hands
A simple salve of beeswax, coconut oil and magnesium makes an excellent remedy for cracked skin, especially that caused by gardening or outdoor work. Good for blisters too. Recipe here.
9] Magic Cream
Keep this do-it-all-cream on hand to treat scrapes, stings, poison ivy, burns, bruises, and just about any other mild injury your kids manage to conjure up! Recipe here.
10] Cold & Flu Relief
When any illness strikes, turn to beeswax. A homemade natural vapour rub will help when coughing and congestion hit, and for tender skin under the nose from frequent nose blowing, a good balm will do the trick. Recipe here.
Beeswax is an excellent addition to cosmetic products, for many reasons. When used in lotions and creams, beeswax creates a barrier which helps to seal moisture into the skin; this is especially beneficial in lip chap during the dry winter months. This barrier also helps to protect the skin from environmental toxins and irritants. Unlike petroleum jelly, which is used in a large variety of beauty products, beeswax will not 'suffocate' the skin, but rather, allow it to breathe while still providing a protective barrier. Recipes here.
12] Food wraps
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't make note that when combined with natural cotton and coconut oil, beeswax is a healthy and eco-friendly way to store your food. A beeswax food wrap (aka Wrappini) is a natural, safe, breathable, compostable and chemical-free way to protect your food and forgo wasteful single-use plastic. Since our wraps are waterproof, they keep unwanted moisture out of your food, and as they are also antibacterial and anti-fungal, they keep harmful bacteria away too! All in all, a super stylish and useful way to keep your food fresher, for longer. What's not to love? Recipe here.