Most of the time when we think about raising bees we think of the honey; however, bees make several other “products” that the beekeeper will need to manage. One of those products is beeswax. Since we started keeping bees a few years ago we’ve learned about so many beeswax uses. We had no idea it was so versatile.
After our first honey harvest, we looked at all the wax and decided we needed to learn about filtering beeswax. It took us a bit of trial and error before we came up with a system that works well for us, but once we did, we had a lot of wax to play with.
The first thing we learned was how to make lip balm at home. This is a great project because you don’t need very much wax. If you have wax from cappings, the balm will be a very light color and you’ll probably have about the right amount to make some lip balm.
After the success of the lip balm, we were hooked and decided to explore more beeswax uses. Since our son also does bee removals we have access to quite a lot of beeswax of all different colors. Beeswax will get darker the older it is and the more the bees used it.
Because beeswax is challenging to clean off jars, pans, and utensils, we decided to pick up some used items and reserve them for our beeswax projects. Now we don’t have to worry about getting all the beeswax out. We have a saucepan and a four-quart pot, several old glass peanut butter jars, a few tin cans, a metal pitcher, a large baking sheet, glass measuring cups with spouts, inexpensive paint brushes (chip brushes), spoons and butter knives in our beeswax supplies bucket. What you need depends on what you’re making. But you certainly don’t need any more than this, especially when you’re just starting out.
For most of these projects, you will need to learn the best method of melting beeswax. There are several ways you can do this. You can put the wax in a saucepan and warm it over medium heat, which some people do but it isn’t considered safe. We like to use a pseudo double boiler set up. We put a couple of inches of water in the saucepan and put the wax in the metal pitcher (or a heat-safe jar or metal can) and then put the pitcher into the pan with the water. As the water heats up it will melt the wax.
Beeswax has some great anti-microbial properties that can be destroyed by heat, so make sure to take your time and melt wax slowly.
One beeswax use we discovered was how to make wood polish to use on our furniture, cutting boards, and wooden utensils by melting equal parts beeswax and coconut oil together. If you have dark beeswax, wood polish is a great project for it.
We also use beeswax to finish the wood projects that we turn on the lathe. After the project has been sanded smooth, we take a block of beeswax and rub it on the project while the wood is turning. The beeswax really helps bring out the natural wood grain and will protect the project.
In the kitchen, an eco-friendly beeswax use is to seal fabric to use instead of plastic wrap. Melt about one cup of beeswax in a jar and add two tablespoons of jojoba oil. Lay the fabric out on the baking sheet and brush the beeswax onto the fabric. You don’t need to drench it, just a thin coat will do. Pop the pan in the oven on warm (150 degrees) and let it all melt into the fabric for a few minutes. Pull the pan out, brush it again to make sure that all the wax is evenly distributed.
Remove the fabric from the pan and hang to cool. Once it’s cooled, you can fold it and put it in a kitchen drawer. Use it to cover cool pans, cheese, bread, etc. Do not use on hot pans. To clean, rinse with cool water and hang to dry.
One summer several of our children decided to learn how to make beeswax candles and give them as gifts for Christmas. Everyone loved them; there’s nothing like the smell of a beeswax candle. They made them in half pint mason jars with cotton wicks.
Last year we made hard lotion for people on our gift list. To make hard lotion melt two ounces of beeswax, two ounces of shea butter and two ounces of coconut (or olive) oil. Stir to mix together and it take off the heat. You can add some drops of essential oil if you want to scent the lotion but we like to leave it unscented. Pour into molds and let cool completely. Silicone muffin tins work really well as beeswax and hard lotion molds.
There are so many beeswax uses, what do you do with it? Let us know in the comments below.