One of the things that honey bees produce is beeswax. This amazing substance is well used in the Natural household.
The workers of honeybees have 8 wax-producing glands on the abdomen. They produce little scales of wax and discard it anywhere in the hive. The hive worker bees then pick these scales up and form it into beeswax, with witch they build wax cells for storing honey or larvae. Beeswax are made up of long chain alcohols, fatty acids and esters. It is edible with antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 1kg of beeswax can store 22kg of honey.
When honey is harvested, it must be ripe. That means that the moisture content of the honey is at around 18%, then the cells are sealed with a wax cap. The wax caps are removed before the honey is extracted from the comb. All these wax caps are melted and cleaned for further use. Beeswax is heat sensitive and melts at 60ºC. It contains a host of essential oils and other natural substances that is lost if the temperature goes up too high. It is therefore important to know what the procedure is that the wax undergoes if you buy wax for health reasons. A lot of bee farmers believe in boiling the wax to extract it, but this practice is damaging the wax.
Here follows a list of some of the marvellous ways in which beeswax can be used:
- Cheese waxing: The cheese must be dry before waxing. It works well for sealing the cheese, as it has a low melting point.
- Waxed thread: Such thread is used for hand-sewn leather goods and jewelry. This makes the process of sowing and threading much easier.
- Treating wooden furniture: The joints of very old furniture can be lubricated with beeswax.
- Making beeswax crayons: Use equal weight beeswax to white bar soap. This makes nice hard crayons with witch lots of detail can be added to pictures.
- Making seals on letters or cards: Gives special character to wedding and party invitations.
- Waterproof shoes: Rub the entire shoe or boot with beeswax. Blow with a hairdryer on the warm setting to melt in the wax. Wait 5 minutes for the wax to cool down and wear it.
- DIY shoe polish: Use 2 parts oil (like linseed oil) to 0,5 parts beeswax. Add pigment colour of your choice (use more pigment for darker colours). Melt these together on low heat and store in small jars.
- Beeswax for beard and hair: Use equal parts beeswax and coconut oil. Heat slowly on low heat to mix well, then allow to cool down. Use small amount and rub in.
- Grease pans for cooking: Use a small block of wax, instead of oil or butter, and grease your pans. Over time a permanent wax layer will form, eliminating the need for further greasing.
- Candles: Beeswax candles are healthier than other candles as it release its essential oils into the atmosphere when burning.
- Re-usable food warps: These wraps can be used over again, instead of something like cling-wrap, resulting in zero waste. Buy your own stunning Shweshwe Beeswax Sandwich Wraps at EcoElephant
- Cleaning your iron and hair-straightener tongs: Gently rub the surfaces with beeswax.
- Cosmetics: Beeswax is used to soothe itching, as a source of Vitamin A and a humectant (used on skin to preserve skin moisture).
At Quercus we return all the beeswax for the bees, so unfortunate we do not have beeswax available in any form.