Using Beeswax at Home
Beeswax has been used for a wide variety of purposes throughout history. In one example from the 18th century, small pox left scars and disfiguration on the faces of those who contracted the disease; in turn, women would apply beeswax to remedy this problem and smooth their complexion. The story goes that if someone got too close, or was staring for a long period of time, a woman might retort that they should in fact “mind their own beeswax” instead of staring at hers!
From this story, we can already begin to see some of the long-standing cosmetic uses of beeswax. So, what is beeswax exactly? As we discovered in An Introduction to Beeswax, beeswax (cera alba) is produced by honey bees that comprises mainly of esters, fatty acids and long-chain alcohols. It is made in the eight wax-producing glands on the abdomen of female worker bees, and forms “scales” when excreted. It is then collected by workers to form cell structures in the hive for honey storage and larval and pupal protection.
Beeswax has had many uses dating back to ancient times. However, the honey bees’ second-most-popular elixir features strongly in many beauty and health products used today. Cosmetics can be made using beeswax as it is conditioning, contains healing agents and acts as a barrier to moisture. Lip balm will rejuvenate parched lips, especially in winter months, and can be made simply by melting beeswax in a double burner before adding honey, olive and hemp seed oils, and a fragrant oil such as peppermint. Skin moisturiser is also made by combining beeswax, almond oil, distilled water, vitamin E and essential oils such as lavender. Medicinally, beeswax is known to relieve itches and skin conditions. To make a salve for irritated skin, melted beeswax is combined with chickweed, comfrey and olive oil, while to remedy aches and pains, it is combined with chickweed, wormwood, olive and tea tree oils.
There are also many valuable uses for beeswax around the home. Scented with the earthy smell of honey, beeswax candles won’t expel a toxic smoke, and can be used to create a beautiful ambience in your home. In cooking, it can be added to many sweets to create a lustrous glaze. Dripped on the back of envelopes, special letters and invitations can be stamped and sealed with old-world charm. A more recent invention are the environmentally-friendly wax food wraps, made by painting a melted mixture of pine resin, jojoba oil and beeswax onto pieces of cotton fabric; these wraps can be placed over food products and vessels to replace clingwrap and other synthetic pollutants. Shoe shining, furniture polishing and batik dying, this product can be bought from a local supplier and used in many applications around the home.