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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Cosmetic Products:
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.
Safety Assessment for Beeswax:
Clear summary of ion claims:
First negative ion claims:
Negative Ions, respiratory function:
Candles are not seen to have much negative ion left over:
Beeswax burns longer with high melting point / shows pollen and propolis is involved / little to no wax dripping:
Beeswax not chemically superior:
Beeswax burns cleaner and has smaller amounts of air pollutants:
Acaricide present in beeswax more than honey / northern hemisphere, not as much southern:
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):
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):
Acaricide and other organic contaminants in wax are resistant to being treated out:
Beeswax not an emulsifier:
Stuff to know about emulsifiers: