If you raise bees, you no doubt are aware of the delicious elixir they produce as the byproducts of their daily toils: honey. However, many beekeepers neglect another significant product produced by these hardworking insects — the wax!
Beeswax isn’t just for candles anymore. It has a number of uses around the house and around the homestead, and should be saved (and treasured) by every beekeeper. Don’t discard your wax next season. Instead, recycle it in one or more of these easy steps.
1. Salves and cosmetics
Beeswax is already used in a variety of common skin care products, including lip balms (Burt’s Bees, anyone?), moisturizers and body creams. It acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral agent. It can serve as an emollient to soften and soothe skin, as well as a humectant to attract water and hold in moisture.
You can make your own cosmetics or slaves by combining with common household ingredients such as olive oil, vitamin E oil and cocoa butter.
Finally, beeswax can be used for your locks, as well. It helps to remedy dry, brittle hair and can be used as a wax for a man’s facial hair. Make sure you add equal parts coconut oil to prevent it from becoming too thick, and only use small portions at a time so that you don’t wind up with overly greasy hair.
2. Arts and crafts
Beeswax can be used decoratively in several creative ways. Batiking is a method of fabric dyeing that requires covering portions that aren’t meant to be dyed with a thin layer of removable wax. You can use paraffin, but if you have extra beeswax kicking around, consider using this, as it will be more natural and set up better than a paraffin-only solution.
You also can use beeswax, when melted, to decorate materials such as Easter eggs. Simply dip a brush into the melted wax, and then paint onto the surface you wish to cover. Easy peasy!
3. Cheese waxing
Beeswax is a great option for DIY cheesemakers. If you own goats or dairy cows, consider saving your beeswax to seal and cover your cheeses. This will help them last longer and also preserve their natural flavors.
4. Prevent rust and provide lubrication
Beeswax can often be used as a substitute for greasy oils used for polishing wood or preventing rust. Coat old hand tools, cast iron pans, doors or wood furniture joints. This will help restore range of motion and prevent premature aging.
5. Crayons and candles
You likely already know the beauty of beeswax for DIY candle making, but did you know they also can be used to make crayons? If you have children, this is a great Saturday project to keep them entertained. Beeswax crayons are harder and less crumbly than store-bought crayons, allowing finer precision and detailing for young fingers.
And if you choose to embark on the traditional route of candle making, you’re in good company. Beeswax is a popular choice of wax for candles because it burns brighter and cleaner than artificial waxes. It also helps to remove toxins from the air and gives off a fresh scent when mixed with essential oils.
6. Shoe repair
When mixed with oil, beeswax can be used to restore luster to faded boots and shoes. It stores for a remarkably long period of time, and even can be used to help waterproof shoes and boots — just make sure you let it dry before wearing!
7. In the kitchen
Beeswax can be used as a substitute for butter or oil when greasing a pan. It is edible, and won’t leave a hard residue on the surface of your pans. To use it, warm your cookie sheets or pans first. Then rub a chunk of wax on the pan’s surface. Keep in mind that a thin layer of wax will remain on the surface of the pan permanently, so you won’t need to grease every time.
You also can use beeswax to polish your delicate granite countertops. Use warm beeswax and be sure to allow it to dry before wiping down. The fine remaining sheen will prevent future staining.
Beeswax is easy to extract from honey and loose comb. Make sure you always use a double-boiler system when extracting wax, as it is highly flammable and can flash at any moment. A double-boiler will prevent you from overheating the wax and causing a fire.
To save time, separate your wax and honey at the end of your beekeeping season — do it all at once. It can be a messy process, but it’s easy to finish once you’ve started. Finding new ways to recycle your beeswax can be a fun way to spend those cloistered winter months.
What other uses for beeswax have you tried?