Beeswax Processing and Uses
Call it one more reason why bees are more efficient than human beings. Rather than go around digging the ground and causing havoc on the environment just to get some building material, bees secrete their version of concrete. That’s what beeswax is. It is the stuff bees use to build honey combs in which they store honey.
It is hard work creating beeswax. For bees to make one kilo of the wax, a bunch of them have to consume about ten kilos of honey and huddle together to raise their body heat. Glands on the sides of the bees’ bodies then secrete the wax. The wax is usually yellowish, ranging from normal yellow to darker shades.
Naturally, the world’s greatest joy riders – otherwise known as human beings – have long figured out how to steal beeswax from bees and use it for their own needs. The typical way of appropriating the wax is by boiling honey combs in water and skimming off the wax as it floats on the surface. In industrial scale, the wax is melted, filtered and solidified into blocks.
Uses for Beeswax
There are surprisingly may uses for bee wax, from polishing concrete counters to waterproofing leather products. But beeswax is mostly used in large quantities in the furniture business, in making candles and in cosmetics.
- Use of Beeswax in Candles: The use of beeswax in candle making is an ancient niche business that has survived through the ages. The reason is that Beeswax candles are in fact special. They burn longer than other candles, do not drip excessively and throw out a pleasant natural fragrance. There is even some serious science involved: bee wax candles are the only fuel that emits negative ions which clean out positive ions from the air. Positive ions are things like dust, viruses and bad odors.
- Use of Beeswax in cosmetics: Luxury soaps and skin care products use bee wax because of wax esthers – a substance that also exists in human skin and makes it easier for ointment, lotion and balm to bind itself on the skin. Bee wax also works as a natural skin moisturizer and relives skin itchiness. Cosmetics made with bee wax are therefore kinder and gentle on human skin.
- Beeswax in the furniture business: Bee wax is smooth, water proof and pleasant to look at when used on furniture. The wax has also been long used to make paint and polishes, making it a perfect premium finish on furniture.
- Other uses of Beeswax: Other less common uses of beeswax include such unlikely things as coating of sweets and cheese. The wax is, like honey, a natural preservative that keeps the cheese or sweet fresh while adding that special fragrance. The pharmaceutical industry also uses bee wax to coat pills for the same reason.
Other unusual uses of beeswax include as a lubricant in manufacturing, as a polish to unlock stuck furniture or repair frayed ropes as well as a lubricant to unlock frozen or rusted nuts.