Beeswax is a natural material produced by bees and used for all sorts of creative, DIY craft projects including candles, decor items, and homemade beauty products.
With beekeepers tending hives around the world, beeswax is still readily available today and perfect for all sorts of creative uses in your home. For more projects using natural materials, see 12 Simply Lovely Nature Crafts.
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Quick & Interesting Beeswax Facts
For those who are not familiar with it, here are a few facts.
- Beeswax is a beautiful, honey-scented natural material.
- Beeswax is produced by bees (secreted from abdominal glands) to build combs where the store their food (pollen, nectar, and honey), lay their eggs, and raise the young bees.
- Beeswax taken straight from the hive contains all sorts of dirt and debris. This is normal and is filtered out during the rendering process by beeswax producers.
- Beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reheated repeatedly.
- In storage, beeswax may develop a powdery-white coating called bloom. It is harmless and not mildew and can be easily removed.
- Beeswax works nicely for candles because it is flammable. I found contradictory information online but the melting point seems to be around 64°C (147°F) and the flash point is approximately 204°C (400°F). For home use this means you need to monitor the temperature when melting beeswax to ensure you stay within safe temperature ranges.
- When purchasing beeswax, always make sure you are buying a pure product. Many items sold as beeswax or said to contain beeswax actually contain much higher volumes of other waxes such as paraffin which is made from petroleum products.
Beeswax Sources & Buying Tips
- Before you buy anything, decide on a project so you know how much beeswax you will need.
- While you can buy it on Amazon.com (see different examples here to check prices), my first choice is to purchase beeswax from local beekeepers.
- Try a google search for a beekeeper’s association in your area. Many have farm stores or online shops. If you don’t see beeswax listed, be sure to ask just in case it’s available by special request.
- If you are willing to clean and filter it yourself, you will have even more options at a lower price. I pay between approximately $6/pound of clean beeswax at a local apiary.
- The Ontario Beekeepers Association is an excellent resource for all things bee-related in my area.
- Most projects require melting the beeswax in a dedicated double-boiler or crock pot. Try to get one at a thrift shop and use it only for crafting, not food preparation.
- You will also need a candy thermometer to keep the temperature of the melted wax in safe range to avoid burning.
What to Expect
- I buy my beeswax in blocks. It is also available in pellets, which are more expensive but faster to melt.
- You will notice that the colour of beeswax can vary quite a bit. Natural colours may include white, light yellows, amber, butterscotch, bright yellows, and browns. When bees produce wax, it is white. The change in colour is determined by various factors including exposure to nectar and pollen, and, in post-production, how carefully filtered the rendered beeswax is. Personally, I love these variations and would much rather have a set of candles in a blend of colours rather than have them all the same. In other words, enjoy it for the natural material that it is.
DIY Beeswax Projects
Leaf and Wildflower Crafts and Décor
You can preserve leaves and flowers by coating them in beeswax. This works nicely for table displays or window décor.
Candles and Tealights
There are several ways to make beeswax candles, either by pouring the melted wax into some sort of heat-resistant container and adding a wick, or dipping weighted wicks into melted wax.
Watch Beeswax Creativity TV
In the Kitchen
In addition to keeping a beeswax-based lotion next to kitchen sink, one newer idea is to create reusable food wraps from cotton and beeswax.
- Cloth and beeswax food wraps | Project instructions
Lotions, Creams, Balms
Beeswax has been used for thousands of years in all sorts of cosmetics and beauty products including barrier creams, lip balm, lip gloss, hand creams, salves, moisturizers, eye shadow, blush, eye liner, moustache wax, hair pomades, and dental fillings (seriously).Watch out for commercial products today that list beeswax as an ingredient. They boast about the beeswax but fail to mention that there are often a bunch of undesirable artificial scents, additives, chemicals, and petroleum projects as well.
Polishing and Protection
Because a coating of beeswax creates a water-tight barrier, it can be used to protect and polish various wood finishes and lubricate sticky finishes.
- Garden tools can benefit from a buffing with beeswax to protect and lubricate blades.
- Dubbin is used to protect and polish leather shoes and boots. Recipes vary but often it is made from a combination of beeswax and lard. | Dubbin recipe
- Beeswax wood polish | Project instructions
Also useful for cutting boards, and lubricating sticky doors, cabinet drawers, and windows.
- If you are sewing or crafting with needle and thread, beeswax can be very handy for coating thread and preventing it from twisting and tangling.
Arts & Crafts
For many years, beeswax was used as the ‘resist’ for batik fabrics, basically blocking dye from reaching the protected areas of the cloth so designs and patterns can be formed. Pure beeswax is no longer the top choice, as it can be time-consuming to remove from the fabric. When I had a hand-dyed fabric business for quilters, I actually used children’s glue as a resist. It’s not natural but it’s very easy to use and washes out readily.
- Traditional batik on fabric using beeswax resist | See how it’s done
- Traditional Easter eggs can also be made using beeswax resists.
- Beeswax candle bowls | tutorial here
- Beeswax flower pots | tutorial here
Now go get some beeswax and start crafting!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛