Abigail gave a presentation on beeswax and its uses at her April 4-H meeting. She showed some of the products that we make and sell. Here is her presentation.
What is beeswax? Are there different kinds of beeswax and if so, what are they? Does beeswax need to be cleaned? What can be done with beeswax and are there any health benefits that come with using beeswax? I will be answering all of these questions today.
What is beeswax? Beeswax is honey that the bees have changed into beeswax. Only worker bees produce beeswax. Honey bees eat the honey then a special gland in her body changes the honey into beeswax. The beeswax is then secreted through the wax gland. It takes between eight and ten pounds of honey to make one pound of beeswax. One worker bee makes about 1/12 a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. Can you imagine how many bees it takes to make one pound of beeswax! Beeswax is used to create hexagonal shaped cells that the bees fill with honey, pollen, or brood or to cap honey and brood.
Are there different kinds of beeswax and if so, what are they? Beeswax is always beeswax. There are, however, different types of comb. Comb is beeswax when it is within the hive. The three types of comb that a beekeeper removes from the hive are burr comb, brood comb, and wax cappings. Beeswax is scraped from the hive by a beekeeper when it is in the beekeepers way. Burr comb is comb that the bees built where the beekeeper does not want it. Burr comb is often a deep yellow color. Burr comb is used to make candles. It is not used for cosmetics because it may have come in contact with treatments the beekeeper used to treat the hive for pests and diseases. Brood comb is comb that has had brood in it. Brood comb is usually very dark almost brown. Beekeepers get this comb when they remove a brood frame from the hive. This wax can be used for candles as long as it has a pleasant scent. A beekeeper may use brood comb to rub the inside of new equipment or as a smoker starter. Brood comb is not incredibly useful. When a beekeeper harvests honey, the wax cappings are cut off the honey cells. Honey cappings are the comb that the bees put over honey to keep it pure and at a perfect moisture content. Honey cappings are white or light yellow. Honey cappings are the finest beeswax and are used in cosmetics because it is free of chemicals.
Does beeswax need to be cleaned? Beeswax goes through a cleaning process called rendering before it can be used in products. Rendering is the process of purifying beeswax by melting it down and filtering it. Rendering wax can be done multiple ways. One must be careful when rendering because beeswax is very flammable. Beeswax should never be melted directly over heat and should never be left unattended. One way to render wax is to use a solar melter. A solar melter uses the suns rays to melt beeswax. The liquid beeswax then drips into a separate container through a screen leaving the impurities behind in the first container. Another way to render beeswax is to use a double boiler system. A pan of water is on the bottom with a pan to hold wax on top of it. A filter, sometimes paper towels or fabric, is attached to the top pan. The wax is either poured over the filter or left on top of the filter to melt. We render wax using a crock-pot. We put a crock-pot liner in the crock-pot then pour some water in it. Since beeswax is less dense than water, the beeswax will float. We then tie an old t-shirt to the crock-pot. We place the wax on top of the crock-pot then turn the crock-pot on low. The shirt removes the impurities while letting the wax melt through.
What can beeswax be used for and are there any health benefits that come with using beeswax? Beeswax can be used to make candles, lip balms, lotions, or it can be used as a lubricant, or a wood sealer. When beeswax is burned it cleans the air. This quality makes beeswax candles great for homes especially homes that have asthma suffers living in it. Beeswax is a sealer. It allows skin to breathe will keeping moisture in. Beeswax based lip balms and lotions help moisturize the skin. Beeswax is much better than petroleum jelly when it comes to cosmetics. Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of oil. Other petroleum byproducts are diesel, gasoline, and plastic. Petroleum jelly does not allow the skin to breathe which actually causes dry skin. Beeswax is an excellent lubricant for zippers. Beeswax will help a stuck zipper zip easy. Beeswax seals wood which helps prevent wood from cracking. Rubbing beeswax on wooden cutting boards helps make the cutting boards last longer. The health benefits of beeswax are it burns clean, moisturizes the skill, and allows the skin to breathe while it seals in moisture.
Beeswax is a product naturally found in beehives that is created by special glands only in worker bees. Beeswax must be rendered before being made into any product and there are quite a few ways to render it. There are many uses for beeswax. Beeswax is a moisturizer that allows the skin to breathe and burns clean. Beeswax is truly amazing.
For more information go to our blog DasselAcres.com or check out books from your local library.