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What is Beeswax?
Here comes the oldest wax for candle making. Ancients had only beeswax to use for making candles in old times. This wax, gotten from worker honeybees, is the most natural of all waxes and contains purifying qualities. These wax-making bees collect nectar from various flowers and produce the wax from glands under their abdomens. Getting beeswax is part of the process of obtaining honey from bees. This is why beeswax has the same yellow-brown colour as honey. Apart from the colour, beeswax also has a natural soft fragrance that diffuses in the room as the candle is burned.
Beeswax Melting Point
Beeswax is of two major types based on colour. The yellow beeswax is the purest form of beeswax. All white beeswax is bleached yellow one. The white beeswax is used if one wants to colour the wax differently than the natural yellow. It can be used to make different types of candles and is the only type of wax that can be used to make rolled candles since they most times come in sheets. It has a high melting point: about 145°F.
Benefits of Beeswax Candles
Beeswax is favoured for the fact that it is natural. This means that it does not pollute the environment in any way like paraffin wax when burned neither does it contain any harmful toxins. So when burning candles made with beeswax, there is no need to worry since there are no potential worries.
This is an amazing quality peculiar to beeswax. It is not only known to not pollute the air, it also helps to purify the air. Dust and other air pollutants contain positive ions but when a candle made with beeswax is burned, the wax releases negative ions into the air. These negative ions attract the positive ones and all fall to the ground or are attracted to the candle. This process rids the environment air pollutants and makes beeswax a healthy choice especially for people with respiratory problems such as asthma and those with certain allergies.
Natural Colour and Scent
Beeswax has a natural yellow-brown colour and honey-like scent, of course from its association with honey. This means that there is almost no need for additives in making beeswax candles. But even with that, you can still add scent oil to get a different odour. Unless you want that, using beeswax is a good way to save money on candle dyes and scent oils and ease the candle making process.
You have seen above that beeswax is totally natural. This means that it burns almost completely soot-free. In this regard it does much better than paraffin wax and vegetable waxes to give a far cleaner burn. Also, beeswax burns the brightest of all waxes. In fact, they make a better light source than the other types of wax. It is sure they must have done so well in illuminating the environment in ancient times when there were no alternative light sources.
Melting Point of Beeswax
Its high melt point of about 145°F is the highest of all waxes. This results in a longer burning time. Beeswax candles generally burn 2 to 5 times higher than other candle waxes. This, in a way, helps justify their high cost. So, apart from the fact that they last longer than other waxes, they also drip far less than others so there is less waste when burning.
Disadvantages of Beeswax
Beeswax has several good qualities for candle burning and for one’s health. But it is not as widely used as other types of candle wax. This means it must have some qualities that deter people from using it too.
Difficult to Obtain
Beeswax takes a lot of stress and resources to be obtained, both on the part of the bees producing them and the humans doing the extraction. For example, it takes several lbs of honey and pollen from millions of flowers to make a single pound of beeswax.
Because beeswax takes a lot of resources just for a little amount of wax, there is far less beeswax than is needed. This scarcity has contributed to the high cost of beeswax in the market. In fact, beeswax is the most expensive kind of wax in the market. This is a turn off for most people especially those involved in DIY candle making at home and work on very little budget. Though it has great qualities, the price is the only thing that sends many people away.
The fact that beeswax has a natural yellow colour is a good quality, but it can be negative too. This is because it means that one cannot add colour to beeswax candles as desired. This flexibility is only available with paraffin wax and vegetable waxes with a creamy-white colour. In any case, there are types of beeswax too that are white and can be easily coloured.
Beeswax has a very high melting point and so is highly flammable. Except in making rolled candles where no melting of wax is involved, one needs to be extra careful when working with beeswax. Simple safety precautions should be taken such as watching melting wax constantly and keeping flammable materials away from the wax.
One needs to be careful when making a beeswax purchase. There are many manufacturers who label their wax ‘beeswax’ but actually mix beeswax with another type of wax, commonly paraffin wax. This they do to save production costs. And since they are not obligated to list the ingredients, many people fall victim and think they are buying authentic wax. The only authentic types of beeswax are those labelled ‘100% Beeswax.
Also, pure beeswax has the tendency to ‘bloom’. This is the appearance of white coating on the top of the candle and is similar to frosting in soy wax candles. It has no effect on how the candle burns so there is no nothing to worry about. If you are overly concerned anyway, warm the candle with a hair dryer or rub the coating off with a soft cloth.
Uses for Beeswax
Beeswax is the oldest candle wax. It is a natural wax and has been in existence for a really long time. From the name, we can see that it is made by bees. Bees usually make beeswax to help build their honeycombs in their hives. They make it by using pollen from several flowers. It has a natural honey-like scent and that yellow honey colour. It is also the hardest of all waxes, has a high melt point and burns really brightly. The only downside to it is that it is expensive but since it burns slower, it is worth the cost.
When it comes to the uses of beeswax in candle making. They vary, depending on the type of beeswax used, whether it is blended or not and what form it comes in. There are three major types of beeswax, there is the yellow beeswax, white beeswax and beeswax absolute.
The yellow beeswax is the most common type of beeswax. It is the ‘normal’ beeswax without additives or bleaching and so it retains the natural qualities of beeswax like its honey-like scent and yellow colour. And you do not need to add any more scent or colour to make beeswax candles with it. Colour is not needed but some still add a little essential oil to it, which is not bad. When talking about making beeswax candles, the yellow beeswax is the one usually referred to.
White Beeswax is also known as bleached beeswax. It is made by filtering yellow beeswax and removing its natural qualities such as colour. White beeswax is the one similar (in colour) to most other types of wax. It is still natural though. One may wonder why bleaching beeswax is needed. The main thing white beeswax offers, that the yellow one does not is the ability to add colour. White beeswax is the one used to make coloured beeswax candles.
Beeswax absolute is yellow beeswax that has been treated with alcohol. It is used mostly in food preparation, not candle making.
Also, beeswax comes in various forms but especially as pellets. But some beeswax also comes as sheets. Beeswax in other forms is the one used to make the typical beeswax. But beeswax sheets are used to make rolled candles. These are special types of candles that need no melting before use. You just take the wick and simply wrap the beeswax sheet around it as many times as you want, depending on the thickness you want to achieve.
Beeswax can also be blended with some other type of wax, like paraffin wax for additional benefits, such as a longer burning time. But take note that blended beeswax, (especially if it is with paraffin wax) may not be natural any more. If your focus is on using a natural wax, then you can blend beeswax with any of the other natural, vegetable waxes like soy wax, palm wax etc.
Finally, beeswax makes very good candles. Stick with the yellow one for regular beeswax candles or the white for coloured beeswax candles. Use beeswax sheets to make rolled candles and for additional features, blend beeswax with another type of wax or an additive.