We all know that beeswax makes great candles, but did you know that it has many household uses? This is especially true in the movement away from commercially-made cosmetics and cleaning products. Beeswax can be a useful ingredient to have around the home.
What is beeswax?
Beeswax is created in eight wax-producing glands on a honeybee’s abdomen. It is secreted in the form of scales or flakes. When the bees want to make comb they collect the wax flakes and chew them until they’re soft and malleable and then form them into the comb-like molded clay.
Beeswax melts at around 146 degrees, which means it keeps it’s solid form at household temperature. It is a great emulsifier in that it helps to thoroughly mix and incorporate oil and liquid ingredients, it is water-resistant and it thickens products like lotions and balms. Beeswax is also entirely natural and edible.
Uses for beeswax
There is a reason wax was used to seal important documents long ago. Wax is a phenomenal sealant. Corked bottles can be dipped in beeswax to seal the contents for years.
Wax can also be used to create re-usable food wrap. To do this, fabric is covered in a thin layer of beeswax and used in the same way you might use plastic wrap or tin foil. See my post DIY Beeswax Reusable Food Wraps for step by step instructions.
The world of homemade cosmetics has really opened up in the past few years. People are uncomfortable with the chemical ingredients in things like deodorant, sunscreen, lotions, and lip balms. We are finding that many of these things can be made at home for a fraction of the price and with safe and natural ingredients.
Beeswax makes a great thickening agent for DIY cosmetic products. Coconut oil works well, too, but it melts at a much lower temperature than beeswax. Beeswax lends a solid texture to cosmetics that need to be stored in a tube, like lip balm or deodorant.
If you have a sticky drawer or finicky zipper, rub a bit of beeswax on the surface to make them glide more smoothly.
Beeswax can be used as a wood sealant and polish. It protects wood surfaces from water damage, moisturizes the wood, seals fine scratches, and creates a great shine. See Beeswax Wood Polish for more.
My husband Zach is a blacksmith and he brushes a coat of beeswax on his metal work to prevent rusting. For more about this process, visit my post Using Beeswax for Metal Work.
Beeswax can also be used to prevent rusting on outdoor tools like shovels, hoes, and axes.
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My dad had a large brick of beeswax on his upholstery table near his sewing machine. He also had a chunk that the thread ran along to coat it. He would stick his large specialty needles in it too, particularly the curved needles used for hand sewing heavy materials.