Throughout history, beeswax has been used in various ways. Up until the mid 1800’s, it was the most popular ingredient in candle making (replaced by paraffin). Candles themselves have been used for everything from religious ceremonies to romantic dinners. Coal miners once used marked candles to time their work shifts, whereas, the wealthy used them to illuminate their homes and valued their sweet, aromatic scent. Artists have also prized beeswax for use in encaustic painting. In the first through third centuries, this medium was regularly used in Egypt to create the Fayum funeral portraits. These portraits then became memorial coverings for mummified corpses.
For all of its many uses, beeswax, for me, remains an essential ingredient in my own study of natural beauty. As I’ve grown older, I have become just as aware of the toxins and chemicals used on my body, as the toxins and chemicals we are exposed to every day in our environment and food sources. For those of us concerned with natural, organic beauty, beeswax is one of the finest additives available.
It takes thousands of crafty, little worker bees to create the meticulously constructed honey-comb cells that provide us with beeswax. Beeswax is the foundation of their hive and is made up of multiple tiny, six-sided rooms, which store the hive’s honey until the beekeeper extracts the golden hued fluid. When the harvest is over, the beeswax left behind is melted, purified, and marketed in a myriad of different ways.
When shopping for beeswax to experiment with at home, be sure to note that untreated, pure beeswax is not white. Pristine white beeswax is not natural and has most likely been treated with chemicals (bleach), which is exactly what we want to eliminate. Beeswax should be golden in color, but the color will not be uniform from one purchase to another. It is a well known fact that the older the beeswax, the darker the color. Thus, don’t be afraid of fluctuations in shade.
Purchasing your beeswax can be done in numerous ways. There are no shortages of sites marketing the product on the internet, and most health food stores carry one form or another; blocks; pellets or sheets. I personally opt for the local beekeeper, who might not produce in high quantities but supplies me with beautifully, fresh blocks. Although it is not an option for everyone, locating local or state beekeeper associations helps to support your local economy. Purchasing organic beeswax is always preferable in order to avoid impurities, especially when your intent is to craft creams or balms for use on your skin.
Beeswax is a required base ingredient for many homemade skincare items; ointments, lip balms, salves. Its aroma is sweet and mild, and its natural properties provide creams with a smooth, creamy texture, that soften and protect the skin. When blending beeswax with essential oils, it is the last item added to the mix; it should always be prepared in a double-boiler, and your mixture should always be removed from the heat as soon as it melts.
Whatever your recipe, feel free to be enterprising. We all have different skin types, favorite aromas and specific results we would like to attain. When creating natural skin care products, we are not choosing candle scents (that will come in another article), we are talking about the ingredients best suited to ourselves as individuals.