What is Beeswax?
 Bees wax is a tough wax produced by bees in the form of tiny scales from glands on the ventral surface of the abdomen and used in building the combs in which the young are raised and pollen and honey are stored. The beekeeper collects bees wax at the time of honey extraction and while also melting down old or damaged combs.
Bees wax is used commercially to make fine candles, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals including bone wax (cosmetics and pharmaceuticals account for 60% of total consumption), in polishing materials (particularly shoe polish), as a component of modeling waxes, and in a variety of other products.
Beeswax has a fairly high melting point between 143-145°F. It is very stable and subject to deterioration by very few solvents. The sun will bleach beeswax but few other materials affect it. It has been brought out from shipwrecks after decades under salt water in good condition. Beeswax burns very slowly and has a natural and very fragrant aroma. These two qualities make beeswax candles truly unique and superior. But the largest commercial use of beeswax is in the cosmetics industry.
Obtaining Beeswax
Beeswax is produced only by honey bees and is a by-product of extracted honey production. Generally, for every 100 pounds of honey, a beekeeper produces one to two pounds of wax will be produced. The beeswax usually comes from the capping of the cells filled with honey. The beekeeper removes these wax cappings before extracting the honey from the beeswax comb. Occasionally beekeepers melt down old comb producing beeswax that is dark in color.
Those interested in making beeswax candles or other beeswax products can obtain the wax from beekeepers, from companies that make candles, or from hobby shops. Generally, the beekeeper is the best source of the wax. Light wax is preferred in candle making but is not always avail-able. The most common reasons wax darkens are contamination with propolis, which bees use in their hives to smooth rough surfaces or seal cracks, and from contact with containers of iron, aluminum, copper and some other metals. It is fairly difficult to try to lighten wax that has been contaminated or has been darkened through con-tact with certain metals.
Preparing Beeswax for Use
Generally, beeswax needs to be cleaned before use. Since beeswax has a low density, it floats readily in water. Virtually all the impurities in beeswax, particularly honey, are heavier than it is. The easiest way to remove dirt and other materials from beeswax is to melt it in a tub of hot water. The beeswax can be ladled from the top and placed in plastic or stainless steel pans.
CAUTION – BEESWAX IS FLAMMABLE. Do not let the water boil when melting wax. If beeswax should boil over or flow onto the burner there is danger of a violent fire. When handling beeswax, low heat and careful attention are advisable.
Paper milk cartons or plastic milk or juice containers make good wax containers. If impurities are found on the bottom of chunks, the cleaning process can be repeated.

Beeswax Rendering - Courtesy Jeff Horchoff (Studio Bee Productions)

 Basic Application of Beeswax
Product Category
Product
Characteristics
Candles
Candles (poured into moulds or dipped)
Solidity, slow burning, therapeutic
Wax Foundation
Rolled & Poured Wax Foundation Sheet
Production increase
Art
Wax Figures and Statues
Melting & Moulding properties, solidity & resistance against melting.
Sculptures
Metal casting, modelling, jewellery, lost Wax casting.
Plasticity, mouldability, melting properties
Engraving
Glass and metal engraving
Protection against etching acid, resist technique
Pharmaceuticals
Drugs, pills, capsules, salve and ointments
Consistancy, binding agent, time release mechanism, carrier of drug
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
Musical instruments
Flutes, didgeridoo, violins, drums
Softness of mouth parts and reduction of porosity
Industrial products
Anti- corrosion rust inhibitor, lubricants
Decrease viscosity, drawing agent, prevention of corrosion