Part One: The Properties of Beeswax
Part One: The Properties of Beeswax
by Diana E. Perez
One ingredient you will find in many products is beeswax: topical cosmetics, medicinal items, food additives, candles, components of sealers and polishes, the basic structure of a honeycomb, and so on. It is a highly versatile material with many benefits that come from its properties. Since it is used in so many items and its proponents place a great deal of stock in its benefits, it would do us well to understand a little more about this multipurpose ingredient.
What are the properties of beeswax?
The chemical composition of beeswax is a complex mixture of many things that a bee's body will mix together to create it. It is never an exactly replicable material every time because there are several things that are affect its production, things such as the bee's diet, age and environment or a colony's need to accommodate for the flow of nectar or larger population birthrates. It can get complicated, but in the end, even with variation, the wax produced holds certain properties.
- is hydrophobic—water-resistant
- is a humectant—helps to retain moisture (by acting like a sealer around something)
- is an emollient—softens and sooths the skin (from the trapping of moisture)
- has propolis and pollen—these each have benefits that help boost the wax's benefits (check with your doctor first if you have any allergies or sensitivities to these)
What forms of beeswax are available for general use?
In addition to the regular chunk of beeswax, it can be processed in different ways to create other beeswax products that are used in various ways. We will mostly focus on the "regular" beeswax, the chunks of wax we see more often, but we will list the "processed" beeswax so you have that information too.
Yellow Beeswax—the most commonly found form; it gets its color from contact with pollen, propolis and honey (mostly); the wax can be much darker and brown but needs to be highly filtered before use
White Beeswax—fresh/pure wax before anything is added or it is bleached yellow wax that has been treated to take out pollen, honey and propolis residue
Beeswax Absolute—an oil for fragrances and aromatherapy; it is similar to an essential oil but made from a different process than distillation
Beeswax Alcohol—for ingestion; it is mostly used for medicinal purposes
What are some of the benefits of beeswax?
Considering the properties and the forms used most often in regular consumer products, it helps to know how the beeswax helps you and the products you make. [Studies will be referenced at the end of the post.]
- Benefits to the Human Body:
Many studies have found that either on its own or with other helpful ingredients, beeswax can have antimicrobial effects. This means it can fight/block the growth of certain kinds of microbes, such as specific types of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Topical Use for Skin Relief and Moisturizer
The application of beeswax (usually in a mixture) to affected areas of the skin will help sooth it by keeping moisture from leaving and softening the area. This is very helpful for conditions such as itching, eczema, hemorrhoids, bleeding and several more.
Propolis is a glue-like substance bees make that they use to repair and build the hive. It has helpful effects on various conditions that affect the skin, respiration and gastrointestinal tract.
(Extra benefit from beeswax alcohol, a.k.a. D-002) Anti-inflammatory
Beeswax alcohol is used in medicine in many forms and applications. One of the primary benefits it has is as an anti-inflammatory which can be super helpful for problems such as pain from arthritis.
- Benefits for Cosmetic:
- Helps to solidify emulsion mixtures—An emulsion is an even dispersal of two or more liquids that usually do not mix. When melted, beeswax will be one of these liquids; its benefit to cosmetics comes as the ingredient that helps to harden the mixture again.
- Helps to stabilize emulsion mixtures
- Helps in the capacity of cream, lotion and ointment to hold water
- Helps certain products to look shinier, to keep its physical consistency and to keep the color evenly distributed; products such as lipstick.
There some important benefits that beeswax has when it is used carefully and properly. Although it is important to check with your doctor first if you are looking to treat any specific physical or medical conditions by using beeswax, knowing the benefits and properties can at least give you a guide on what to talk about with your physician. For daily cosmetic use, the wax can be a good source of protection for your skin and a great foundation for your products.
References and Further Readings
Properties of beeswax:
Influence on beeswax production:
As an Antimicrobial:
About microbes in general:
Beeswax mixture for skin and topical use:
As an Anti-inflammatory:
D-002 (beeswax alcohol):
Propolis / Allergic reactions:
Propolis / benefits:
Safety Assessment for Beeswax:
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