Part Two : Advice and Misinformation about Beeswax

October 31, 2018

Part Two : Advice and Misinformation about Beeswax

by Diana E. Perez

 

Things to watch out for!

As awesome as the benefits of beeswax are, there are still some things to look out for before using them. If you have plant-related allergies or other sensitivities, check with your doctor before using beeswax.

 

  1. Acaricide and Other Pesticide Residue

Used worldwide Acaricide is a pesticide that specifically targets the mites that negatively affect bees. Left untreated, the poor bees can become very sick which can affect the colony and their production of honey and beeswax. Unfortunately, this means that during treatment, the acaricide can contaminate the wax. The bright side is that there are ways to clean it out that have proven effective enough to make the beeswax usable again. It is still important to keep an eye out because in some cases some acaricides are resistant to being cleared out. It is also important to know that even though the beeswax is declared usable, it could mean that there are tiny amounts left in there; they are just too small to have any kind of significant effect. But if you have a sensitivity or would just prefer to avoid it all together, make sure to check the beeswax before use. Within Australia this is not used as we do not have the mite contamination, this is another great reason to buy local rather than import beeswax from overseas.

 

  1. Propolis or Pollen Allergies

If you have an allergy to propolis or pollens from the area where the beeswax was made, be sure to avoid using this until you check with your doctor.

 

  1. Selecting Emulsifiers to Make Your Beeswax-Based Products

When making cosmetics, such as lip balms or creams, emulsifiers are needed in addition to the beeswax to make sure your product's ingredients don't begin to separate after a few days. Beeswax is not an emulsifier on its own. Without an emulsifier, the beeswax and other items in your product will begin to separate from each other after a time.

 

  1. Adding Fragrances

It can be lovely adding a nice scent to your products, including candles, but keep an eye on exactly what you add and how the product will be used so as not to inadvertently add an irritant.

 

  1. Remember to Add Preservatives

If you are making balms, lotions, creams or salves (anything that will be used topically on the skin) remember to add a preservative, even natural one such as benzyl alcohol. Beeswax is not a preservative on its own. Even though it has properties that allow it to preserve itself, it cannot preserve the other ingredients in your mixture and keep microorganisms from growing on the product.

 

  1. Checking for Percentage of Beeswax in Beeswax Candles

Although paraffin wax is not actually as bad as it is made out to be (studies referenced below), if you have a preference for beeswax, it is still prudent to pay attention to candles marketed as beeswax candles because some are not 100% beeswax, but instead are a combination of beeswax and paraffin wax.

 

  1. Avoid Using Wicks with Lead in your Beeswax Candles

Candle wicks use a type of metal core to keep the wick from tipping over and becoming extinguished in the melted wax. Not all metal is bad, but definitely avoid wicks with a lead center.

 

 

 

Misinformation, Unproven Claims, and the Need for More Research:

While there are many benefits to using beeswax, there are some claims that are not backed up by current, credible research. Sometimes it is simply information that was misunderstood and got spread as misinformation, so let's touch on a few important ones here. (Note—these are important if one is attempting to use beeswax for health reasons)

 

For Candles:

  • Negative ions as body healers—There has not been any substantial evidence to prove this as a true quality of burning beeswax candles. The concept that ions (positive or negative) can have a big enough effect on anyone has not been proven one way or the other in strong enough research. The effects of positive ions on the human body are still unclear with nothing hugely significant to push the idea that they are definitely bad. And at the same time, although some studies show benefits to negative ions on the body, it is still not a big enough effect that it can be completely true all the time with huge benefits.
  • Negative ions as air cleansers—There has not been strong enough evidence to support this claim about burning beeswax candles. Positive and negative ions are produced from burning the candle by the heat of the flame separating atoms, but they are only separate from each other for fractions of a second and the emissions from the candle are not ionic. This means that the negative ions cannot travel far enough to clear the air.
  • Beeswax as better than or less toxic than paraffin or other waxes—This is only slightly There have been many studies that compare the byproducts and burning of waxes. When compared, beeswax is certainly cleaner, has less air pollutants and lasts longer, but the paraffin byproduct of burning was not too far off from beeswax. Paraffin did not emit toxic chemicals anywhere near the level that people fear they do. It is very possible, and more likely, that fragrance added to paraffin candles is what is producing the worst irritants in the emissions. Keep an eye on the kinds of scents added to candles, make sure the room is well ventilated and minimize the quantity of candles you burn at once, for how long you burn them or how often you do it no matter what kind of wax it is.

 

For Cosmetic Products:

  • Need for Emulsifiers—Somewhere along the way the claim that beeswax was an emulsifier became a thing. Beeswax is not an emulsifier. What emulsifiers do in your mixture is make sure that the liquid ingredients that cannot normally mix (like oil and water) will be able to evenly stick together as a single mixture. When an emulsifier is not used, beeswax does not contain the properties to make this happen. It might seem like it at first because the wax will harden when the mixture cools off. But after a bit of time it will begin to separate from the other liquid. It can mess up your product and create conditions for microbial growth.
  • Need for Preservatives—Somewhere else along the way the claim that beeswax was a preservative also became a thing. Beeswax is not a preservative. A preservative will make conditions super hard for microbes to grow. Beeswax has some properties that will help it keep from becoming contaminated by microbes—that's why it's used to wrap fruits and cheeses—but these benefits don't extend to the other ingredients the wax is mixed with. So while the wax is not affected, all the other things in the mixture are. Remember to use a preservative.

 

 

Despite the, likely, accidental misinformation and the common-sense warnings about beeswax properties and beeswax products, this is still a great material to use for many projects and products of your own. Become familiar with the components of your products before you use them and remember to be mindful of the ingredients you include when you make something with beeswax yourself. Just a little attention will go a long way in making sure you maximize the benefits of the beeswax you use.

 

 

References

 

Safety Assessment for Beeswax:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10915818409010515

 

Clear summary of ion claims:

https://abreathofreason.com/2015/03/27/269/

 

First negative ion claims:

https://www.nytimes.com/1982/12/16/obituaries/albert-krueger-80-bacteriologist-led-research-on-air-ions.html

 

Negative Ions, respiratory function:

https://jnrbm.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1477-5751-12-14

 

Candles are not seen to have much negative ion left over:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=2ahUKEwjno8TpopzeAhWPyVMKHZCLAtIQFjAAegQICRAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bashaar.org.il%2Ffiles%2F2971.doc&usg=AOvVaw0mGS98x7vhzVIezv1dm68Q

 

Beeswax burns longer with high melting point / shows pollen and propolis is involved / little to no wax dripping:

http://www.pysanky.info/Chemistry/Beeswax.html

 

Beeswax not chemically superior:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021850208001894

 

Beeswax burns cleaner and has smaller amounts of air pollutants:

http://www.zn903.com/cesclee/papers/I-26.pdf

 

Acaricide present in beeswax more than honey / northern hemisphere, not as much southern:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=9&ved=2ahUKEwjrxeCYzZzeAhUFrVMKHRZxB9oQFjAIegQIAxAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.agroscope.admin.ch%2Fdam%2Fagroscope%2Fen%2Fdokumente%2Fthemen%2Fnutztiere%2Fbienen%2Facaricides_e.pdf.download.pdf%2Facaricides_e.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1TC8a-PCSwsBVWRLJVIlyu

 

Some acaricides leave more residue than others in the wax and honey / some can meet safety standards, but not others… (Acaricide residues in beeswax after conversion to organic beekeeping methods):

https://www.apidologie.org/articles/apido/pdf/2008/03/m07061.pdf

 

Acaricide residue limits use of wax in food products / some decontamination processes work leaving small amounts but not fully for all pesticides (discoloration and adsorption of acaricides of beeswax):

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jfpe.12344

 

Acaricide and other organic contaminants in wax are resistant to being treated out:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ejlt.200500284

 

Beeswax not an emulsifier:

https://formulabotanica.com/beeswax-is-not-an-emulsifier/

 

Stuff to know about emulsifiers:

https://formulabotanica.com/17-points-to-consider-before-choosing-an-emulsifier/

 

 



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