Sunday 15 September 2013

What do we use beeswax for?

Over the years there have been millions of uses for beeswax.

The most important use for beeswax as a beekeeper is of course to give the honeycomb back to the bees so that they can re-fill it with honey.  It 'costs' the bees to recreate the honeycomb, so giving it back means that they can collect more honey next season. The bees will re-use honeycomb, but they will not take flakes or pieces of wax and re-use them, so once the wax is damaged, or removed from the honeycomb, it can be recycled into something else.  The list below is just some of these uses.

  • Candles – Historically this was almost the most important use of bee products.  Churches used a lot of candles and tithes could be paid in beeswax.

  • Furniture polish – dissolve beeswax in turpentine to make a paste.  Rub onto furniture.  The turpentine dissolves and the beeswax protects and shines the furniture

  • Stop sticking drawers – rub a block of beeswax on the drawer runners and the drawer will slide smoothly, using the beeswax as a lubricant.

  • Press screws into beeswax before using and they will go into wood easier and the wood is less likely to split.  The screws are also easier to remove.

  • Rub a saw with beeswax to make it cut easier without sticking.

  • Run thread through a block of beeswax to make it easier to sew with and less likely to break.

  • Beeswax, often with the addition of colour, is used to fill small cracks and holes in furniture.

  • A slipping belt on a vacuum cleaner, sewing machine etc can be rubbed with beeswax to give it a better grip.

  • Cosmetics – any number of lip balms, hand creams etc.

  • Covering food such as cheese to prevent spoilage.

  • Leather was waterproofed using beeswax.

  • Putting a shine on sweets and tablets

  • Used for musical instruments, such as fitting the reeds for woodwinds and to make the mouthpiece of didgeridoos.

  • Prevents the dye from getting to the pattern in Batik fabric painting.

  • Encaustic art – painting using molten beeswax

  • Add a colour or dye to make crayons.

  • Used as a resist in a number of art forms where areas need to be masked from a treatment.

  • Lost wax casting - A model of the item is made in beeswax.  This is then coated in clay which sets to make a hard mould.  The wax is melted out and the mould is filled with metal to make an accurate copy

  • A polish and lubricant for skis.

  • Soap made with beeswax makes a hard soap which is supposed to be good for dry skin.

  • Grafting wax – beeswax is mixed with other materials to make a wax used to protect the joint when grafting trees and other plants.

  • Used by ancient Egyptians as part of the embalming process.