Simple truth: beeswax rocks.
How do you transform an oil into a lip balm, salve or ointment? Beeswax.
How do you thicken an emulsion of water and oil to make a luxurious face or body cream? Beeswax.
How do you make those fantastically curly and elaborate moustaches sported by gentlemen of yore (and some hipsters…)? Beeswax.
If you want to make your own beauty products or home remedies – you’re going to want to add some beeswax to your home apothecary. Here’s why.
What is beeswax?
Beeswax is the structural material that bees produce to store their honey – also known as honeycomb. Once the honey is extracted, the honeycomb is melted down and rendered with water to extract impurities, and you’re left with pure beeswax. Beeswax is often sold either in pellets or in blocks. You’ll need to grate a block of beeswax using a cheese grater to get the right amount for your recipe. Beeswax melts at approximately 144 F (62 C). That means it’s solid at room temperature, which is key for using it in our health and beauty recipes.
Why do we use beeswax for natural health + beauty?
Because beeswax is solid at room temperature (and even in hot weather), it acts as a thickener in our recipes. If you add more beeswax to a product, it will get more and more thick and solid.
Beeswax also acts as a barrier on the skin (similar to why many companies use petroleum products), so it’s useful to keep a product on the skin without soaking in completely, such as a balm, ointment or cream.
I use beeswax to transform oils into a solid product which is easier to apply and more convenient for travel. For example, you can infuse an oil with herbs, add essential oils, and then transform it with beeswax into a lip balm, salve, ointment, facial cleanser or beauty balm. Balms made with beeswax can also be eyebrow or moustache wax, lip balm, cuticle salve, applied to rough elbows and heels, or a portable facial moisturizer. Balms are so versatile, they’re the #1 type of beauty product I make and use myself at home.
How to use beeswax in natural health + beauty products
You’ll need to melt the beeswax to incorporate it into your recipe.
Typically you melt the beeswax in with other oils. For example, if you are using almond or olive oil, or even shea or cocoa butter, just melt them all together, and as they cool, the beeswax will cause the mixture to thicken.
My favorite way to melt beeswax with other oils is using a bain-marie or double boiler, to keep the oils off direct heat. Heat gently and stir regularly as the beeswax melts into the oil mixture. When all of the beeswax has melted (and you can’t see any more pellets/shavings) you’re ready to proceed with your recipe!
How much beeswax should I use?
The more beeswax you add, the harder the end-product will be. Start by following your recipe, and you can adjust the next time you make it.
For a basic balm, ointment or salve, you can use more or less beeswax depending how hard you want the balm.
These are guidelines on how much beeswax to include in a balm by weight:
- A hard balm: 1 part beeswax to 4 parts oil
- A soft balm: 1 part beeswax to 7 parts oil
- A very soft balm: 1 part beeswax to 10 parts oil
For a balm in particular, you can always add more beeswax, but you can’t take it out! So start by adding less beeswax, and then take a teaspoon of balm, and put it on a plate in the freezer to let it cool for a few minutes. Check the consistency. If you want it harder, add a bit more beeswax, and test again.
Favorite beeswax recipes
What’s your favorite recipe with beeswax? Share your stories and tips in the comments below!