Beeswax is a fabulous product of nature at its best
Why do we use Beeswax?
We can use it in so many ways, in balms and creams as a base, to give waterproofing, grip and protection. We have never been able to replicate what those bees create and anything less than pure beeswax is a poor substitute indeed.
Beeswax is produced by the honey bee when they are gathering nectar and is used by the bees to build the honey comb casing in which the nectar/honey is stored.
The wax is commercially produced as a by product from the honey. Beekeepers harvest full combs of honey from the beehives. The beeswax cappings wax, (which the bees have sealed the honey combs with), are removed and the honey extracted from the combs. The rest of the wax is separated from the honey during processing, and is then melted and made into blocks of wax.
The pure cappings wax is white in colour, and this is the premium, best wax you can get. The yellow to orange colours of wax are more familiar to us and are due to the natural staining from the pollen and propolis the bees gather. It will vary in colour depending on the type of nectar the honey bees are gathering.
Refined white beeswax has undergone further factory processing by washing and removing more colour using natural products to purify, clean and wash out colour to produce a high-quality white wax for use in the cosmetic and food industries. The yellow wax is mostly used for export, candle production, and in balms where the colour is less important. Manufacturers of cosmetics and creams prefer to use the purer white wax as it delivers all the best of the beeswax, but without the yellow colour tinting their products.
Beeswax has an almost indefinite shelf life when stored in cool dry conditions.
Pure, cleaned beeswax is not attacked by insects or moths. It can last for centuries!
Beeswax has a multitude of uses, historically being used for candles, waterproofing, and lubricants. It is edible (although has no food value as such) and is approved for food use in most countries. Its commonly used as an ingredient in the cosmetics industry, and in the medicinal industry for coating pills, or part of the ‘gel’ capsule ingredients. Its often used to lubricate machinery used in food manufacture.
We use a small amount of beeswax in our lip balms and creams, the yellow beeswax is used in the balms where colour is not an issue, especially in oil combinations and lip balms, whereas the creams that are emulsified use the refined white pellets. Beeswax helps with thickening, setting (for firm texture), emulsifying, waterproofing and retention of moisture.
It’s pretty amazing stuff! It gives a good shine when polished, and is in fact a major ingredient in furniture polish.
It helps give good grip in leather creams – great to help you stay in the saddle – and protects leather immensely.
The bees produce approximately 18kgs of crude cappings wax for every 1000kgs of bulk honey. Export earnings of Honey and bee products are approx. $340 million dollars each year, and continues to grow. NZ Honey and beeswax is sold to over 40 countries worldwide.