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The Beeswax Book, Chapter 1
Bee Product Science, September 2009
1
Beeswax:
Uses and Trade
Stefan Bogdanov
Bee Product Science, www.bee-hexagon.net
The honeybags steal from the humble-bees
And for wax tappers crop their waxen thighs
And light them at the fiery glow-worms’ eyes
To have my love to bed, and to arise
Midsummer Nights Dream, Act III,
William Shakespeare
BEESWAX USE IN THE PAST
History of beeswax use
The old Egyptians used beeswax when embalming, for mummification of their pharaohs and for retaining the
permenancy of whig curls, for preserving the papyrus scrolls and to protect paintings. The wrappings of
Egyptian mummies contained beeswax
4
. Beeswax was mentioned in 32 prescriptions, given in a papyrus,
compiled in Egypt about 1550 BC
15
The ancient Persians used wax to embalm the dead, while the ancient Romans modelled death masks and
life-size effigies from beeswax. The world mummy derives from a Persian word meaning wax
In ancient times beeswax was used as an adhesive to join two
surfaces together.
The ancient Greek legend of the Athenian, the architect Daedalus
(Dedalos),is remembered because he and his son Icarus tried to
escape from the island Crete, made themselves wings of bird
feathers, which they fastened to their bodies with beeswax.
Flying too high, Ikaros had the wax which held it's wings to his
body, melt, and he plunged into the Aegean Sea, drowning. His
father flew at a lower height and made it safely to Athens, where
he built a temple to honour Apollo.
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The ancient god, Pan, guardian of bees, invented a musical instrument, Pan's Pipes, by joining reeds together
with beeswax, and blowing through them to make music. The great Greek physician, Discorides, wrote of
rolling beeswax into sheets which was then used to make artificial flowers. Ancient jewellers and artisans
knew how to form delicate objects from wax and cast them later in precious metals. Colours of ancient wall
paintings and icons contain beeswax which has remained unchanged for more than 2000 years
6
(Birshtein et
al., 1976).
The Greek-Roman doctor Galen, 2
nd
AC used beeswax in a cooling ointment. The famous Iranian physician
Avicenne, 10
th
AC, recommended beeswax for medicine.
According to
35
“in Chinas most famous medicine book “The Shen Nong Book of Herbs”, 1-2
nd
BC,
beeswax was recognised as a top medicinal ingredient. It is praised for its beneficial influence on blood and
energy systems and the overall balance of the body. The author attributes beauty enhancement and anti-aging
properties to beeswax.. Combined with other ingredients it is applied on the skin for treating wounds and as a
health food for dieting. Many recipes are given is this authoritative source of traditional Chinese medicine.
Ge Hong (about 284-364, Jin dynasty) and Sun Simiao (581-682) recommend 'beeswax therapy1, i.e. a heat
treatment of skin areas with cloths impregnated with molten beeswax. Liu Yuxi in 841 gives a detailed
description of beeswax therapy more than 1000 years earlier than the paraffin wax therapy from the
Frenchman Barthe de Sandford (1909). "The Sages Prescriptions", edited by the Song Dynasty Imperial
Hospital (992), mentions diet therapy, health-improvement and anti-aging prescriptions containing honey,
beeswax and honeycomb”.
The Romans demanded beeswax when they conquered Corsica in 181 BC
9
. In Medieval European times
wax was a unit of trade for taxes or other.
Candles of beeswax were used already by the ancient Egyptians, ancient Greece, Rome and in old China
16
It
was introduced in churches since the beginning of Christianity in Europe. Since 4AC it is required by the
Roman Catholic Church that only beeswax candle should be used in the church. This law is still valid but no
longer 100 % beeswax is required, the percentage varies according to the local Episcopal instruction between
5 and 50 %.
Beeswax was used for making of figures and cult objects in ancient Egypt. In regions with stingless bees
stingless-beeswax figures were made in different South American countries and in Australia
16
.
Beeswax was an important ingredient of ancient seals
16
. At the beginning pure beeswax was used and only
later resin and colour were added .
In ancient Egypt beeswax was used for writing tablets, the oldest known being from around 1300 BC
16
. The
use of writing tablets continued until after the Middle Ages in Europe.
The production and selling of beeswax and beeswax candles was a good business until the introduction of
paraffin wax in the 19
th
century. Nowadays beeswax has lost its exclusiveness, but it remains the most
expensive of all natural waxes.
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Theories about the origin of beeswax during the ages
The Greek philosopher Aristoteles wrote between 344 and 342 B.C. that
beeswax originates in the flowers. This theory which was supported by the
Roman apiculturists and writers Varro (116 to 27 B.C.) and Pliny, the Elder
(23 to 79 A.D.). This theory predominated until the Renaissance.
Swammmerdam wrote in 1673 that wax was prepared by bees from pollen.
In 1684 Martin John observed for the first time wax scales. In 1744 the
German scientist Hornbostel
22
reported that bees themselves produce the
wax. This report was not considered by the scientific community until the
publications by Hunter in 1792
24
and in 1814 by Huber
23
. Hunter noted and
that bees secrete wax and build combs, and also, that newly built combs are
white. He observed that bees do not need pollen to make wax. The views of Hunter were expanded by
Huber, who proposed that sugar is needed to produce wax. In 1903 the process of wax synthesis was
described in detail by Dreyling
18
.
While in early times beeswax was the only available wax, with time man learned to produce other waxes
from plant animal and lately also of synthetic origin.
BEESWAX USE IN ART
Beeswax as ingredient of artistic materials
Batik art
Beeswax is used in the batik art . The word " batik " is of Indonesian origin, where
batik art was invented. Evidence of early examples of batik have been found in the Far
East, Middle East, Central Asia and India from over 2000 years ago. It is conceivable
that these areas developed independently, without the influence from trade or cultural
exchanges. However, it is more likely that the craft spread from Asia to the islands of
the Malay Archipelago and west to the Middle East through the caravan route. Batik
was practised in China as early as the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618). These were silk
batiks and these have also been discovered in Nara, Japan in the form of screens and
ascribed to the Nara period (AD 710-794). It is probable that these were made by
Chinese artists. They are decorated with trees, animals, flute players, hunting scenes
and stylised mountains. Indonesia, most particularly the island of Java, is the area
where batik has reached the greatest peak of accomplishment. The Dutch brought
Indonesian craftsmen to teach the craft to Dutch warders in several factories in Holland
from 1835. With this method colour is introduced into fabric. Portions of the cloth,
covered with wax resist the dyes. When the dyeing process is complete the wax is
removed by heat. Batik is still used all over the world. Different books on batik can be found on the market.
Ancient Indonesian batik
Ancient Chinese batik
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Lost wax casting and figures
Figures containing beeswax survived in royal Egyptian tombs dating from 3400 BC
13
.Throughout history it
has been used in commerce and business as a document seal. One of the most important uses of beeswax was
in “cire-perdue”, or lost wax casting
12
,
17
. This method is very old and was known in different old high
cultures as the Summerians, India, China, Egypt. Many of the world’s most famous statues were produced
using the lost-wax casting process. The object to be cast in metal is first sculptured in wax. It was then
coated with clay and hardened by heat, thus melting the wax. Molten metal is then poured into the clay
model. This technique requires a lot of metal. Less metal is required if a core of removable material is coated
heavily with wax in which the image is engraved. The whole is then coated with clay, dried, the wax melted
out and the metal poured in.
Ancient India
Ancient Nepal
Africa, 17 C
Ancient Peru
Charles V
Fountain lion, old Italy
Old lost wax sculptures and figures
Bronze preservation
Bronze statues should be coated twice a year with a solution consisting of 1/3 pound of pure beeswax
dissolved in one quart of pure pine turpentine. This solution is to be brushed over the statue in a swirling
motion, using round semi-stiff hair brushes. Let solution dry for 24 hours, then rub lightly with a felt, velvet
or wool pad, to only the high points of the statue so as to leave the depressions with a shadow effect. Care
must be taken to apply the solution to the statue only when the statue is dry.
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The sculptures of Madam Tussaud's
The sculptures of Madam Tussaud's in London and now in other countries, too, are widely known and copied
in many countries. In the museum, famous people are copied in wax and dressed as life-sized figures. A
mixture of three parts beeswax and one part of a harder wax are used
36
Modelling in wax, or ceroplasty is a
well developed art used also for scientific models in important collections around the world
1
During the last
century, wax flower modelling was apparently popular in Europe. A bibliography on wax modellers,
collections and history
33
by a handbook on sculpting with wax and plaster
31
have been published
Encaustic painting
Beeswax is used also in encaustic painting. In this painting technique beeswax is a chief ingredient of the
colour, used by the artist. Encaustic painting was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Beeswax is melted with a resin and pigment and is then applied by heatable pallet. The colour application
should have been very quick, because dallying would lead to the wax re-solidifying on the brush, making it
impossible to apply as a paint.The finished paintings is durable and does not attract dust. Ancient encaustic
paintings can still be admired in museums, e.g. in the British museum. Encaustic painting was practiced by
Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B. C. Most of our knowledge of this early use comes from the
Roman historian Pliny, who wrote in the 1st century A. D.. Pliny seems to have had very little direct
knowledge about studio methods, so his account of techniques and materials is sketchy. According to Pliny,
encaustic was used in a variety of applications: the painting of portraits and scenes of mythology on panels,
the coloring of marble and terra cotta, and work on ivory (probably the tinting of incised lines).
For more informations, consult www.encausticart.com
, http://beetree.se
Roman encaustic painting 2-4 AC
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Further reading:
9, 13, 16, 17, 20
CANDLES
Candles made of beeswax have been used by mankind in religious ceremonies since a very long time
17
.
Beeswax candles can be made by different methods: pouring, dipping, rolling, extruding, drawing and
pressing. The different methods of candle making are described in detail elsewhere
11
. Since beeswax has a
higher melting point than most paraffin waxes (most of which melt between 48 and 68
0
C) beeswax candles
remain straight at higher ambient temperatures.. Waxes with a melting point above 88
0
C do not perform well
during burning.
There are three methods of making candles: molding, dipping and rolling. Explanation of these techniques
are found elsewhere
10, 11
:
rolled candle
molded candles
dipped candles
molded beeswax figures with a rolled candle in the
middle and molded candles on the sides
Molding
Beeswax is molded in different shapes, modern ones are made of silicon. Many different shapes are supplied
with instructions how to make the candles under home conditions. Candles molded in silicon forms are easily
made. The candles can be taken out of the forms after hardening of the wax. Wax is liquefied easily by
placing the wax in a pot, situated in a water bath heated at 70 to 80
o
C . Making the candles before Christmas
when it is cold, forms can be placed in the open to speed up hardening. An alternative is placing the candles
for about half an hour in a freezer.
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Dipping
Dipped candles are very appealing, but the technique is more difficult and labour intensive. It is great fun to
dip candles in a group or within the family.
Rolling
Rolling is a very easy way of making candles. Comb foundations are mostly rolled around a wick.
Foundations should be softened at about 25-30
o
C to increase plasticity.
Tips for optimal burning of a candle:
beeswax candles burn significantly longer than paraffin candles
5
For optimal and long duration of burning beeswax should be stored for at least an year in the freezer
Thinner candles (until 24 mm) burn more constantly than thicker ones and build less smoke and
soot.
Thicker candles can begin to soot after a certain time. In this case the wick should be shortened by
cutting it off with scissors. After extinguishing the fire the wick should be carefully placed in the
liquid wax, without damaging the edge of the candle. Before lightning these candles again cut off the
already burned part of the wick. These candles should burn for a longer time in order to prevent
worsening of the ration between the burnt wax and the burnt wick
The first time you line burn your candle for one hour for every 2.5 cm of candle diameter. This will
allow the pool of wax to be extended and will prevent the building of a tunnel in the centre
If wick size is correctly proportioned with respect to the diameter of the candle (information supplied
by the trading company), the beeswax candle is less likely to drip than candles made from other
materials.
HOMEMADE BEESWAX FURNISHES AND POLISHES
Beeswax furniture furnish
Beeswax floor furnish
Leather furnish
5-6 parts of beeswax, 8 parts tallow and 8 parts neatsfoot oil
This is not a polish. It is a lotion that conditions and waterproofs smooth leather superbly. Heat ingredients
together to 160 degrees F. Mix thoroughly and pour into containers.
Wood polish (liquid or paste like)
1.5 parts turpentine and 1 part beeswax or b) 4 parts beeswax, 2 parts turpentine, 1 part of orange,
lemon, coconut or lineseed oil. Grate beeswax into the turpentine. Add one of the oils and mix. Store
in labelled tins or bottles with tight fitting lids.
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The ratio of solvent to beeswax determines whether this is a paste wax or a liquid polish. Other ingredients
are often added such as pigments, lemon oil, linseed oil, or tung oil. More volatile solvents can be added or
substituted to make a faster-drying, thinner polish Carnauba wax is often added to make a harder, shinier
finish.
Classically, on "raw" wood the paste polish is applied warm, so the turpentine soaks into the pores of the
wood and pulls some beeswax with it. Excess polish is brushed or scraped off. When dry, the resultant wax
film is polished with brisk rubbing.
A recipe for an artists' varnish
3 parts turpentine and 1 part beeswax. Mix thoroughly. Wax varnish has a beautiful non-glossy sheen. It is
easy to remove from a painting or plaque without damaging the paint, though it yellows a little faster then
most other varnishes so you will have to clean your painting sooner (after ten to fifteen years). However, it
gives a period effect that is hard to duplicate with modern materials.
Detailed discussions and recipes for preparations with synthetic wax are presented by Jones
26
who also lists
reasons such as the formation of soft, easily marred films and a lack of availability, why natural beeswax is
increasingly being replaced by other waxes in polishes.
There is a variation in recipes, thus it is obvious that there are many ways of preparing a wood polish suitable
for particular application. Turpentine is the most commonly available natural solvent for wax, but other oils
may be substituted to avoid the rather strong odour of turpentine. Suitable alternatives are orange, lemon or
linseed oil, or other refined vegetable oils. The wax content can range from 5 to 50% and occasionally even
more. The consistency of the paste or oil may change, but can be corrected with appropriate adjustments in
the proportions of each ingredient, e.g. less oil or more wax if it is too liquid.
BEESWAX USES: SUMMARY
Besides its use for foundations, which is probably the main use, wax is also used for following purposes:
cosmetics 25-30, pharmacy 25-30 %, candles: 20 % and other purposes: 10-20 %
14
.
Beeswax is often preserved in archaeological deposits and thus there are many witnesses for its early use
12
.
More details concerning the different uses of beeswax in past and present are given elsewhere
5
10, 11, 14, 17, 20,
21, 27, 29
.
The different uses of beeswax are summarised in the table below. In beekeeping, beeswax is used for the
production of comb foundations.
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Application of beeswax for different product categories
after CBI, EU Market Survey, Honey and Beeswax, 2002, www.cbi.eu
Product category Products Characteristics
Candles Candles (poured into moulds or dipped) Solidity, slow burning, therapeutic
effect
Wax foundation Rolled and poured wax foundation
sheets
Production increase of honey
Art Wax figures and statues Melting and moulding properties,
solidity and resistance against
melting
Sculptures Metal castings, modelling, jewellery, lost
wax casting
Plasticity, mouldability, melting
properties
Engraving Glass and metal engraving Protection against etching acid,
resist technique
Processed food Confectionery, bakery, packaging,
Coating of jellied sweets and liquorice
Separation agent, preservation,
anti-sticking agent
Pharmaceuticals Drugs, pills, capsules, salve and
ointments
Consistancy, binding agent, time
release mechanism, carrier of drug
Physiotherapy Compresses Warmth retaining capacity
Natural therapy Ear plugs Softness, impermeabilty
Cosmetics Creams, lotions, lipstick, mascara, eye
shadows, deodorants, hair creams,
depilatories, hair conditioners
Emollient and emulsifier.
Improvement of appearance,
consistency and sensitivity to
melting
Textiles Batik Waterproofing, paint resistant,
resist technique
Handicrafts Eco design Plastering agent for artisans
Musical instruments Flutes, didgeridoo, violins, drums Softness of mouth parts and
reduction of porosity
Varnishes and
polishes
Paintings, art restoration, metal, wood
and leather treatment
Protection, impermeability for air,
humidity and pests
Industrial products Anti-corrosion rust inhibitor, lubricants Decrease viscosity, drawing agent,
prevention of corrosion
Beeswax has been used in a variety of products and processes from packaging to processing and
preservation. It was used as a component of numerous applications in industrial technology: as components
of insulating materials, but all of the descriptions being published before 1981
39
. Many of these applications
could be accomplished with other, cheaper waxes. Since most of these processes involve large scale and
complicated production procedures, they are not described here.
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USES FOR FOOD AND HEALTH
Cosmetics
Since ancient times, the basic recipe for creams and ointments has consisted of a mixture of beeswax and oil
in various proportions according to the desired consistency. Beeswax has an irritation potential of zero, and a
comedogenicity rating of 0 - 2, which means that when formulated and used correctly in cosmetic
formulations, beeswax will not cause a problem or clog the pores, but brings a host of very positive
attributes, such as general healing and softening, as an antiseptic, and an emollient to cosmetic products.
Beeswax has unique characteristics, making it an ideal material for cosmetics:
builds stable immulsions, improves water binding of ointments and creams
gives the skin a protective actin of a non-onclusive type, increasing the protective action of sun
creams, its elasticity and plasticity improve allow thinner films and provide a greater
permanence on skin and lips
improves soap function, gives a protective film on skin and improves ist elasticity.
improves protective action of sun creams, does not provoke allergy.
Has antibiotic and thermo-storing roperties
Does not provoke allergic reaction
Desired effect can be achieved often by as little as 1 to 3 % beeswax
11
It not only improves the appearance and consistency of creams and lotions but is also a
preferred ingredient for lipsticks, because it contributes to sheen, consistency and colour
stabilization
It increases the protective action of sunscreens
Other cosmetic applications are found in cold creams (8-12% beeswax content by weight), deodorants (up to
35 %), depilatories (hair removers, up to 50%), hair creams (5-10%), hair conditioners (1-3%), mascara (6-
12%), rouge (10-15%), eye shadows (6-20%) and others.
Traditionally, vegetable oils were used but they become rancid and limit the period for which such creams
can be used. Today, most plant oils have been replaced by mineral oils such as liquid paraffin or
preservatives are added. Selective use of vegetable oils from olives, corn, peanuts, jojoba, cacao, palms,
coconuts and others still continues, since many of their beneficial effects cannot be provided by synthetic
mineral oils.
In order to mix the otherwise incompatible beeswax and oils with water, all of which are essential
ingredients of any cream or lotion, an emulsifier has to be added. Borax is the classic emulsifier, available in
most pharmacies. Today's "high-chemistry" cosmetics use a large array of other synthetic emulsifiers. The
chemical process on which the emulsification is based is the saponification of the acids in beeswax, i.e. the
result is technically a soap. The associated cleansing effect is exploited in so-called cleansing creams, which
are very much like simple skin creams.
To remove the free acids from beeswax so that it no longer needs an emulsifier and can be easily mixed with
pigments and mineral products, a special process was developed and patented
7
(Brand, 1989).
Beeswax cosmetic products
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Recipes for home made cosmetics
Skin cold creams
Add 5 parts of beeswax to 3 parts of coconut oil. Melt ingredients in separate heat-resistant
wide-mouth jars in a simmering pan of water, heated at about 70
o
C. Mix thoroughly. Place
the mixture jar in a pan of cool water and continue stirring. Transfer the cool cream into final
containers. The cream that is fairly solid when cold but will "melt" onto your hands as you rub
it in Ingredients other than coconut oil may be used. It is in this formula because it melts at skin
temperature. Olive oil is often mixed with beeswax to make a skin lotion.
1 part beeswax, 2 parts water, 3 parts oil, borax (5% to 6% of the beeswax used). Heat
beeswax and oil to 160 degrees F. Heat the borax and water to 160 degrees F. Mix and stir.
Perfumes or essential oils should be added at 140 degrees F, and the mixture should be stirred
until it is 120 degrees when it should be poured in jars and allowed to cool.
The borax emulsifies the beeswax, sort of like making soap. Borax is alkali and it neutralizes
the fatty acids in beeswax when mixed, producing an oil-water emulsion cream-like in
consistency.
Cream against rough skin
Roughly equal parts of beeswax and olive oil melted together is all that has been needed for
centuries to make a salve that helps prevent and heal chapping and rough skin. Olive oil has been
mixed with beeswax for centuries, and is good for dry skin that needs to be softened. In modern times
odourless/colorless mineral oil has been mixed with beeswax to make a soft, flexible coating that is
not absorbed by the skin and repels water yet is removed easily with soap and water.
Lip balm
2 part shredded beeswax, 4 parts of coconut oil, 1 part glycerine (optional)
2 parts liquid honey, 4 drops of essential oil such as almond, peppermint, orange or lemon. Heat the
beeswax, coconut oil and glycerine to 160 deg F. Remove from heat. Add the honey and stir until the
mixture starts to thicken (140 degrees or so), then evenly add the essential oil while stirring and
continue to stir the mixture until cool. Pour into final containers (small screw-top balm jars) at
about 120 degrees and let set until completely cool.
Natural lip gloss
1 part of shredded beeswax, 2 parts oil of your choice, natural colouring as needed. Heat the beeswax and
oil to 160 deg F. For colour, add a natural vegetable colouring (like beet powder, raspberry or blackberry
juice). You will have to experiment with the right combination of wax oil and colour. Pour into final
containers and let set until completely cool. Package with a lipstick brush.
The part measures are mostly by weight. If mixtures are heated use hot water, hot was is inflammable!
Food processing and apitherapy
Food processing
Beeswax is considered safe for human consumption and has been approved as an ingredient in human food
in the USA
38
It is inert, i.e. it does not interact with the human digestive system at all and passes through the
body unaltered. However, substances dissolved or encapsulated in wax are slowly released. This property is
exploited in many medicinal preparations. At the same time these properties can create a problem when wax
is stored near toxic chemicals and pesticides or after treatment with various drugs inside the hive. Any fat
soluble toxins can be absorbed and then released much later when the wax is consumed as food, used in
cosmetics or given to bees in the form of foundation sheets.
Beeswax is an authorised food preservative in the European Union under the name of E 901
19
Consumption
of 1290 g beeswax per person and day are permitted. It is used for the coverage of chocolate candys, for
surface treatments chocolate, fruits, nuts, coffee beans, bakery, amd as a carrier of colours in food
technology. of fruits to prevent them for drying out, A common, simple and small scale application for
beeswax is the protection of containers against the effects of acids from fruit juices or honey. Indeed, steel
drums for storage and shipment of honey have to be treated to prevent corrosion and dissolution of iron. The
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treatment may involve an expensive food grade paint, a plastic liner made from a food grade plastic film or a
thin coat of beeswax.
Apitherapy
Beeswax is the least allergenic bee product. There is only one report on skin allergy caused by beeswax
30
Beeswax has antibacterial properties
28
and when applied to the skin improves its elasticity and makes it
look fresh and smooth. It is used for coating of drugs and pills, facilitates ingestion, but retards dissolution.
Beeswax can be mixed with the drug, thus retarding drug releasing. Beeswax can be chewed for
strengthening the gingival and to increasing saliva and stomach juices page 94 from
32
.
Warm beeswax has excellent warming properties when applied against inflammations of muscles, nerves and
joints. For this reason the Bulgarian medical doctor Pochinkova suggests that beeswax is the main bee
product to be used for thermo-therapy, see page 140 from
32
. For this purpose following application is
suggested applied after muscle, nerve and tendon inflammation due to colds, lumbago, neuritis, mialgitis,
arthosis, arthritis:
Dip a piece of soft cotton cloth, cut according to the size of the applied body part, into liquid beeswax. Lay
down to cool at an even place. Before use warm up, e.g. at a maximum of 50
o
C in an oven, and place on
body part, mostly overnight, cover with an schal for insulatation. The wax cloth can be used many times.
Such wax cloths are available at chemists or drug stores in some countries.
Beeswax packing against small children’s cold are commercially available in some countries (e.g. Germany
and Switzerland)
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ECONOMY AND TRADE
Beeswax economy and trade date from very early age. Beeswax was traded already in old Greece and
Rome. The Romans demanded beeswax when they conquered Corsica in 181 BC
9
. In Medieval European
times wax was a unit of trade for taxes or other.
Different grades of wax are traded. The colour of beeswax will vary from light to medium and dark. Light
yellow beeswax, mild in odour is preferable. Bennet
3
divides wax into three grades. The first of these is
“crude, bleachable and non-bleachable, available in lumps and blocks”. The other two grades are white and
yellow waxes, both of which described in the Pharmacopoeia
2
. Today, mainly two basic types of beeswax
are traded: pharmaceutical and cosmetic grade and a general application grade. Strahl and Pitch, the leading
wax refiners in the USA trade at present 6 cosmetic/pharmaceutical grades and 5 general use beeswax
grades. Beeswax from different countries has different properties, especially its readiness to bleach
11
. .
Nearly all commercial wax produced is by Apis mellifera.
It is difficult to obtain reliable figures on wax production, as the greater part of beeswax is used in
beekeeping for producing comb foundations. Of all bee products the economic importance of beeswax is
second after that of honey. It is estimated that its production is about 1.5 to 2.5 % of that of honey
14
. On the
basis of the assumption by FAO Comtrade statistics, that 1.19 million tons of honey were produced in 1991,
between 17,850 to 29,750 tons of wax was produced during the same period
25
.
The same source cites following figures on the trade of beeswax: “In world trade statistics beeswax is
grouped with other insect waxes. Nevertheless, beeswax is a major component of insect waxes, and the trade
value can be safely assumed to be that of beeswax. Based on the information derived from COMTRADE data
base, total value of the insect waxes traded internationally during 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991 was 23.63,
23.27, 26.08 and 23.35 million US$, respectively. During 1992, major exporting countries were China
(14.9%), United Republic of Tanzania (11.4%), Germany (11.1%), Canada (7.0%), the Netherlands (6.3%),
Brazil (6.1%), Japan (5.7%), USA (4.8%) and Ethiopia (3.7%); collectively accounting for 71% of the total
trade volume in insect waxes. Australia, France, Chile, UK, Dominion Republic and New Zealand were
some of the minor origins”
World trade in beeswax for 2003, after
8
World trade in beeswax Export tons Import tons
World 10’336 11’949
Asia 5’213 1’995
Africa 795 258
Europe 2167 6’873
Biggest exporters and importers
China 4‘814 127
Dominican Republic 39 1
Ethiopia 402 1
France 495 1’243
Germany 919 2’363
Japan 89 713
Mexico 14 71
Portugal 10 32
Spain 113 336
United Kingdom 102 731
USA 1’097 2’195
Source: All data FAOSTAT, 2005, unless stated otherwise.
The Beeswax Book, Chapter 1
Bee Product Science, September 2009
14
Comtrade statistics have mixed refined/bleached wax and raw
wax production data. However, there are no other statistics
sources which do this separation. The major exporting
countries of raw beeswax for the same year, and probably still
at present are: China, Tanzania, Canada, Brazil and Ethiopia,
together with Australia, France, Chile, New Zealand and the
Central African Republic
34
. In the main, beeswax exported
from Germany, the Netherlands, UK and USA is re-exported
refined/bleached wax, produced out of the raw wax of the
above exporting countries
34
. The USA is a major raw
beeswax supplier, consuming most of its own production,
being also a worldwide supplier of refined wax
34
. Tropical
and developing countries dominate world beeswax production
and export, with industrialized countries needing to import
beeswax. This is because, as described above, in local styles
of beekeeping both honey and wax are harvested.
According to the Comtrade statistics the price per ton beeswax in 1991 was 3,300 to 3600 $
25
The world
wholesale price of beeswax s usually around US$ 4-10 per kilogram.
As a major part of the commercial beeswax is now contaminated by acaricides
37
, there is an increased need
on the market for residue-free beeswax. African beeswax, at present mostly free of acaricides, is a good
candidate for the near future.
Further Reading on beeswax:
9, 11, 20, 27
The Beeswax Book, Chapter 1
Bee Product Science, September 2009
15
References
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3. BENNETT, H (1975) Industrial waxes. Natural and synthetic waxes. Compounded waxes and technology.
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4. BENSON, G G; HEMINGWAY, S R; LEACH, F N (1978) Composition of the wrappings of an ancient
Egyptian mummy. J.Pharmacy and Pharmacol. 30: 78.
5. BERTHOLD, R; BARRACLOUGH, M; BOSSOM, M; DUFFIN, E (1993) Beeswax crafting. Wicwas Press
Cheshire, Connecticut; 125 pp
6. BIRSHTEIN, V Y; TUL'CHINSKII, V M; TROITSKII, A V (1976) A study of organic components in ancient
Central Asian and Crimean wall paintings. Vestnik Moskosvkogo Universiteta 31 (3): 33-38.
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Application (No EP 319 062)
8. BREADBEAR, N (2009) Bees and their roles in forest livelyhoods. Rome; 194 pp
9. BROWN, R (1995) Beeswax. Butler & Tanner Ltd. Frome Frome, GB; 87 pp (3. edition)
10. BROWN, R H (1981) Beeswax. Bee Books New and Old England Burrowbridge, Somerset, GB
11. COGGSHALL, W L; MORSE, R A (1984) Beeswax. Production, harvesting and products. Wicwas Press New
York New York
12. CRANE, E (1983) The Archaeology of Beekeeping. Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. London
13. CRANE, E (1983) The archaeology of beekeeping. Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. London
14. CRANE, E (1990) Bees and beekeeping: Science, practice and world resources. Cornell University Press
Ithaca, New York
15. CRANE, E (1999) Beeswax The world history of beekeeping and honey hunting, Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd;
London; pp 524-537.
16. CRANE, E (1999) History of the use of beeswax The world history of beekeeping and honey hunting, Gerald
Duckworth & Co Ltd; London; pp 524-538.
17. CRANE, E (1999) The world history of beekeeping and honey hunting. Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd London
18. DREYLING, L (1905) Die wachsbereitenden Organe bei den gesellig lebenden Bienen, Dissert. Uni Marburg.
Zool.Jahrbuch 22: 1-42.
19. EFSA (2008) Beeswax (E 901) as a glazing agent and as carrier for flavours. The EFSA Journal 615: 1-3.
20. HEPBURN, H R (1986) Honeybees and wax, an experimental natural history. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Berlin
21. HÖRANDNER, E; HUTSTEINER, H; MOOSBECKHOFER, R; ZECHA-MACHLY, H (1993) Von Bienen
und Imkern, von Wachs und Honig. Verlag Christian Brandstätter Wien
22. HORNBOSTEL, H C (1744) Neue Entdeckung, wie das Wachs von den Bienen entsteht. Vermis Bibliothek
Hamburg; 62 pp
23. HUBER, F (1814) Nouvelles observations sur les abeilles. Tome 1 et 2. J.J. Paschoud Paris et Genève
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24. HUNTER, J (1792) Observation on bees. Philos.Trans.R.Soc.Lond B Biol.Sci. 82: 128-196.
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United Nations Roma; 409 pp
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Switzerland; pp 52-71.
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comparison. Apidologie 34 (5): 1-3.
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43 (68): 14643-14644.
39. WALKER, P (1983) Beeswax: Uses and commercial aspects. IBRA Bibliography (33): 1-17.
... The world mummy derives from a Persian word meaning wax. In ancient times beeswax was used as an adhesive to join two surfaces together [1]. The great Greek physician, Discorides, wrote of rolling beeswax into sheets which was then used to make artificial flowers [1]. ...
... In ancient times beeswax was used as an adhesive to join two surfaces together [1]. The great Greek physician, Discorides, wrote of rolling beeswax into sheets which was then used to make artificial flowers [1]. The Greek-Roman doctor Galen (2 nd AD) used beeswax in a cooling ointment. ...
... The Greek-Roman doctor Galen (2 nd AD) used beeswax in a cooling ointment. The famous Iranian physician Avicenna (10 th AD) recommended beeswax for medicine [1,2]. The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote between 344 and 342 B.C. that beeswax originates in the flowers. ...
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Mom Zard (beeswax) is an animal source of origin medicine which is secreted by wax glands of honey bees. Since ancient periods Unani physicians have been using it as medicinal purpose orally as well as topically as a base of Qairooti (oil+beeswax), Zamad (paste) and Marham (ointment). Ibn-e-Sina (Avicenna) stated that Mom Zard has mainly talyeen (aperient), tahleel-e-auram (resolution of inflammations) andindemal (healing) properties. The effects of mom zard can be attributed to the presence of palmitate, palmitoleate and oleate esters and triacontanyl palmitate to cerotic acid. The aim of this paper is to highlight the pharmacological actions and therapeutic applications of the Mom Zard as per descriptions in Unani literatures.
... Yüzyıla dayanmaktadır. Lakin özellikle ilaç, alternatif tıp ve gıda sektöründe kullanılacak balmumların toplandığı kovanlarda limit aşımı kalıntı bırakacak zirai ve hayvansal ilaçların kullanılmamasına dikkat edilmesi gerekmektedir (Bogdanov, 2004;Topal ve ark., 2020;Tulloch, 1970 (Bogdanov, 2004(Bogdanov, , 2009(Bogdanov, , 2016Topal ve ark., 2020;Tulloch, 1970). ...
... Kozmetik, %25-30 eczane, %20 mum ve % 10-20 diğer amaçlar şeklindedir (Crane, 1990). Balmumunun özellikleri gereği kullanım alanı çok geniştir (Bogdanov, 2009 (2017) Bartın'daki organik tarım üreticileri için pazar sorunu da büyük önem arz ettiğini, ürünlerini toplayıcı firmaya düşük fiyattan satmak zorunda kaldıklarını bildirmiştir. Optimum pH dereceleri ise 7.2-7.9 ...
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ORDU YÖRESİNDE BELİRLENEN YENEN MAKROMANTARLAR ve BAZILARININ TIBBİ ÖZELLİKLERİ
... These properties have proven the effects of Linseed oil topical application on burn wounds healing in New Zealand rabbits [17]. Additionally, the basis of using Honey Wax in the mixture was derived from the observation that beeswax has antimicrobial properties [18]. In this study, we aimed to determine the healing effect of Artaderm herbal ointment containing the Henna extract, Linseed oil, and Honey Wax on the rat's second-degree burn and compare it to alternative medications available in the market including SDD 1%, Cod Liver Oil and Alpha ointments. ...
... The phenolic compounds induce disintegration of bacterial DNA and inhibits the activity of DNA gyrase [43À45]. Meanwhile, the wound healing effect of the Artaderm ointment was increased by selecting Honey Wax as an ointment base due to its antimicrobial properties [18,46]. In the present study four different bacterial strains causing wound infections including E. coli and P. aeruginosa (Gramnegative) and also S. aureus and B. cereus (Gram-positive) were used to evaluate antimicrobial activity of Artaderm ointment. ...
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The treatment of skin burns is one of the most important challenge in medical science. The aim of this study is evaluation of the efficacy of Artaderm herbal ointment containing the Henna (Lawsonia inermis) extract, Linseed (Linum usitatissimum) oil, and Honey Wax on wound healing in the rat with second-degree burn wounds. The Artaderm ointment had an effective role in controlling burn wound infections due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. In this study, 64 male Wistar rats were randomly divided into 8 groups (n = 8). Four groups received Artaderm, 1% Silver Sulfadiazine (SSD 1%), Cod Liver Oil and Fundermol (Alpha) ointments which used in common practices for burn injuries. Another three groups received Henna, Linseed, and Honey Wax alone and a control group that just underwent a second-degree burn injury without any treatments. A second-degree burn was formed on the back of each rat and dressed daily with one of the agents. Burn wounds were macroscopically and microscopically evaluated on the 7th, 14th, and 21st day after burn induction. Rats treated with the Artaderm ointment had significantly faster wound contraction as well as shorter healing time than the rest groups. No scar was observed in rats treated with the Artaderm ointment on the 21st day, while this level of improvement was not observed in other groups at the same time. More than 90% of wounds were healed after on the 14th day in rats treated with Artaderm (94.10 ± 0.18) and Alpha (92.05 ± 0.23) ointments. According to these findings, it can be concluded that Artaderm herbal ointment can be used as a proper alternative for healing of wounds in second-degree burns.
... Beeswax used in dentistry is a complex mixture of esters consisting mainly of myricyl palmitate plus saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons and high molecular weight organic acids. Beeswax has a relative low melting point range of 62°C to 64°C (144°F to 147°F) [21]. If beeswax is heated above 85°C (185°F) discoloration occurs. ...
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