Throughout the ages beeswax played a significant role in history and folk lore. From the myth of Icarus flying too close to the sun with wings made of beeswax to Pilyn (23 AD to 79 AD) who described a broth made from beeswax used as a remedy for dysentery and as a skin softener, beeswax was frequently used by the ancients. In some cultures beeswax was used as currency and was highly prized. In fact, in 181 BC when the Romans defeated the Corsicans, they imposed at tax of 100,000 pounds of beeswax.
In the 1300’s farmers in France paid an annual tax of 2 pounds of beeswax each. One can only wonder what became of the unfortunate farmers with no beekeeping skills. In that same century a petition was presented to the London Court of Alderman by the ‘Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers” which ultimately established them as the oldest English guild. During the same period the Roman Catholic Church decreed beeswax candles to be the only candle appropriate for use in Catholic churches.
Even in modern times beeswax finds many uses and applications. As one goes back in time the list becomes even longer. In fact, the importance of honey production in ancient times was secondary to the production of beeswax. The following are but a few of the applications of this incredibly versatile substance:
- Candles and ornaments
- Lip balm
- Cosmetics and medicinal creams
- Foundation for new honeycomb in hives
- Slippage prevention for belts in vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, etc.
- Waterproofs shoes, fishing lines
- Lubricant for doors, windows, tools
- Wax for skis, toboggans, bow strings
- Creates a freely moving surface on irons and frying pans
- Furniture finish and polish
- Soap making
- Beard and mustache wax
- Grafting wax
- Sealing on jams and jellies
- Reconstructive surgery
- Leather waterproofing
- “Lost-wax” method of casting
- Embalming procedures
- Dental procedures
- Wood filler
- Tack cloth
- Glass etching
What’s so great about beeswax as a candle and as a fuel in general? First and foremost, beeswax candles burn brighter, longer, and cleaner than any other candle! The flame emits essentially the same light spectrum as the sun and in the process of burning emits, negative ions that are known to clean the air and invigorate the body (reportedly, stimulating the puitary gland, thus increasing creativity, intuition, and dream activity).
Finally, this 100% natural fuel created by bees is naturally scented by the honey and nectar of flowers packed into the honeycombs and gives off a subtle fragrance as it burns. In short, it’s a natural substance straight from mother nature.
Technical beeswax facts:
- Stable chemical makeup that essentially remains constant over time (usable wax found in ancient tombs)
- Chemical formula: C15 H31 CO2 C30 H61
- Insoluble in water, density 0.958
- Becomes brittle below 18 C
- Becomes soft and pliable above 35 C to 40 C.
- Melting point 65 C
- Flash Point 204.4 C