Normally, it takes anything between six and ten pounds of honey to be consumed by a bee to release every pound of wax. This wax is exuded in small quantities from the bees‘ glands situated underneath their stomach or abdomen. The beeswax is useful both for the bees as well as the humans. While the beeswax is used by the bees to create the honeycomb, store the honey collected from flowers and house their infants, there are many who find the honeycomb as a delicacy and they prefer it to the regular chewing gum.
The beeswax has several other uses too. Commercial beekeepers often re-use the wax to fabricate new bee combs, while most utilize it for producing quality candles – particularly the ones used for religious ceremonies or important functions. Beeswax is also used to give an artificial polish to fruits and flowers and also for modeling. It is also an important constituent in the manufacture of furniture and floor waxes, waxed paper, lithographic ink, cosmetics, balms and leather dressings among other things.
Normally, after the commercial beekeepers have collected the honey from the bee combs either through the drainage system or by extraction method, they put them in water heated little over 145°F. When the beeswax melts due to the high temperature, it rises on the surface of the water and is collected after the water has been cooled. Following this, the wax is poured into different moulds and allowed to solidify.
Beeswax are generally found in three different varieties – yellow, white or bleached and beeswax absolute that is also known as absolute cire d’ abeille. The yellow variety of beeswax is the crude type that is taken directly from the honeycombs. On the other hand, the white beeswax and the absolute cire d’ abeille are more refined in nature and are drawn from the yellow beeswax variety. White beeswax is derived from yellow beeswax by removing the color with the joint action of air, sunlight and moisture or with peroxides. Beeswax absolute or absolute cire d’ abeille is obtained by treating yellow beeswax with alcohol.
These days, beeswax is produced all over the world. There was a time when millions of school-going children everywhere were well aware of beeswax. In fact, the term beeswax had become a part of an idiom for these children. For instance, in the British Isles, school kids could often be heard telling their more naughty classmates, “Keep to your own beeswax”, while children in Canada and America changed the phrase to say, “Mind your own beeswax”. Again, in Latin American countries, one could often hears a kid saying, “Stick to your beeswax and leave mine alone”. In brief, all these idioms referred to the present phrase, “Mind your own business”.
Each of the three different varieties of beeswax has different characteristics. The yellow beeswax or the crude version obtained directly from the hives is a yellow to brownish-yellow or grayish brown solid that has an aroma like the honey, and possesses a weak, but distinctive taste. The white beeswax, on the other hand, is a yellowish-white solid that has a dimly attributed odor that is less distinctive when compared to the yellow beeswax. The white beeswax is basically devoid of any taste and comes in thin translucent layers. Beeswax absolute or ‘absolute cire d’ abeille’ is a light yellow solid possessing a gentle, sweet and oily aroma that often suggests of the good linseed oil with a trace of honey to it. However, all this depends largely on the source from where the material is collected.
Analysis of the different varieties of beeswax have revealed that the yellow and white types of beeswax comprise around 71 per cent of esters of fatty acids – generally palmitic and 15-hydroxypalmitic acid – and around 12 per cent of free acids or cerolein. They include as much as 23 per cent of the monoesters that are myricyl palmitate and this coupled with myricyl alcohol has been termed as the myricin. Many farmers often use myricyl alcohol, also referred to as triacontanol, to stimulate the growth of plants as well as enhance their crop yields like tomato, cucumber and lettuce. It may be noted here that the alfalfa herb is very rich in triacontanol and the bees love this herb’s bluish-purple flowers and visit them frequently. According to researches, this may be one reason for the high content of myricyl alcohol or triacontanol in beeswax collected from the hives located near the alfalfa fields.
On the other hand, the major ingredients in beeswax absolute is cerolein and some unstable fragrant compounds. Isolation of cerolein makes it appear like a fatty substance.
Although beeswax possesses various therapeutic properties and is often applied by people to cure a number of ailments, this mode of medication is no longer as popular as before. Earlier, a several physicians recommended the use of beeswax to shield and relieve the mucous membranes while treating ailments like diarrhea and dysentery. In the past, beeswax was also an important constituent in many undiluted pharmaceuticals and composite balms that were used for dressings following any surgery.
While treating patients suffering from diarrhea and dysentery, some medical practitioners melted beeswax in a metal container over boiling water and after some time allowed the water to cool to such a degree that the beeswax did not thicken or solidify again. The softened beeswax was then spiced up by adding small quantity of
sugar, and blended with warm milk or coffee before giving the potion to the patient to drink bit by bit. Normally, the doctors prescribed half teaspoon of beeswax with one-and-a-half cup of warm liquid – water or coffee – for people suffering from diarrhea and typhoid dysentery.
During the Civil War, an associate (Confederate) surgeon called Francis Peyre Porcher, M.D., offered this remedy to numerous ailing soldiers undergoing treatment by him. Later, he recorded his memoirs in a book ‘Resources of the Southern Fields’ (published by Charleston: Evans & Cogswell, 1863), where he noted that each of the soldiers provided with the beeswax treatment recovered in a quick span and were ready to go out and fight against the Yankees with renewed vigor.
Incidentally, Porcher also regularly prepared an herbal ointment by blending beeswax and goldenseal root. He claimed to have effectively applied this balm on wounds sustained by soldiers from gunshots or powder burns during heavy fighting. According to reports, Porcher would excavate some goldenseal roots, clean them and then clobbered them into pulp. Next, the surgeon put some of the goldenseal root pulp into one-and-a-half pint of hog lard (alternatively, one may also try sesame or olive oils) and boiled the substance over low to mild heat for around 90 minutes and then strained the liquid. Next, Porcher would pour the oil in another container and include some hot melted beeswax in it. (The amount of beeswax mixed with the strained out oil depended largely on how thick the surgeon wanted the ointment to be.) Once the herbal salve was prepared, Porcher would pour them in small tin cans and allow them to cool. Then he covered the tin cans with lids and stored them in a cool place till they were required for application on some wounds.
Although beeswax has been in use since time immemorial, historically, it was the ancient Egyptians who made the first mention of this substance while referring to Queen Cleopatra’s cosmetics – cold creams, lipsticks, hair dressings, lotions as well as her preferred nail shiners. Records maintained by the early Egyptians also mention that Queen Cleopatra’s attendants used small portions of aromatic beeswax in her bath soap. Later, during the Middle Ages beeswax not only became very popular, but valuable too. It was so worthy to the people that they could exchange it as a form of currency. Natural beeswax is in demand even now and is specifically used for making candles for the churches and used during the Roman Catholics’ religious ceremonies. Even the Greeks and members of the orthodox Russian faiths still continue to use candles made from beeswax during their religious rites. Interestingly, beeswax candles are also extensively used by the Jamaican voodoos while performing black magic rites.
Until synthetic substitutes appeared on the scene, natural beeswax was very popular among the people and it was widely used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products as well as cosmetics. However, today the use of beeswax for these purposes has virtually become outdated. Beeswax substitutes now offer lubrication emolliency and surface shine as well as coating formation properties for a large variety of items, including cosmetic and toiletries. The present day beeswax substitutes are so rich in features that they possess almost all the qualities of the natural product and have various applications – just about equal to the original beeswax.
Since a long time, both the natural beeswax as well as its substitutes have been widely used in the manufacture of various cosmetic items, including cold creams, lip glosses, lip pomades, non-alcoholic stick colognes, and protective skin ointments for the aged as well as suspension-type antiperspirant sticks. Both the natural as well as the synthetic beeswax offers firmness along with strength when they are used in anhydrous products, including any stick-like item. In addition, these substances provide shine, skin-feel and free-style features to the products.
Apart from being widely used in the manufacture of cosmetics and toiletries, natural and synthetic beeswax have several other uses too. They are commercially used in the manufacture of shoe polish, furniture polish, car wax, anti-metal oxidization coatings, lubricants for various automobiles, waterproof composites and many other things.
Rose moisturizer is meant for normal skin and can be prepared using the following ingredients:
- 3 tablespoonfuls (45 ml) of rose water
- 6 drops of essential oil of rose or rose geranium
- 1 teaspoonful (5 ml) of lanolin
- 1 teaspoonful (5 gram) of beeswax
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of almond oil
- 1/2 teaspoonful (2.5 ml) of wheat germ oil
To prepare this moisturizer, first thaw the beeswax and lanolin collectively and continue to stir. Next, warm the natural oils and blend them with the wax mixture. Gradually, add the warm rose water even as you stir the mixture. When the mixture begins to cool down and condenses, stir the essential oil of rose or rose geranium. Store this moisturizer into jars using a spoon.
Avocado and beeswax moisturizer
The avocado and nettle moisturizer may be prepared with the following ingredients:
- 2 teaspoonfuls (10 grams) of emulsifying wax
- 1 teaspoonful (5 grams) of beeswax
- 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of a potent nettle infusion
- 4 teaspoonfuls (20 ml) of avocado oil
- 4 drops of cedar wood essential oil
To prepare this herbal moisturizer that is suitable for oily skin, you first need to thaw the beeswax and emulsifying wax together. Then, warm the oils, pour them on the liquefied waxes and keep stirring. Blend the infusion with this combination and let it cool for some time. Finally, add the essential oil to the combination.
- From Johann – Aug-12-2017
- Natural wax production by bees gives you white wax when brand new. The older the wax is and the more brood is reared in wax combs the darker the wax gets. If you use wax combs as supers or for bees to store honey in combs only, then those combs are staying relatively light.