What is a wax? Waxes are organic compounds of long alkyl chains, hydrophobic and a malleable solid at ambient temperatures. While water-resistant, they are soluble in organic nonpolar solvents.

Waxes include higher alkanes and lipids that melt above 40 °C or 104 °F. They also include–

  • Fatty acids with some containing fatty acid esters
  • Primary and secondary long chain alcohols
  • Unsaturated bonds
  • Aromatics
  • Amides
  • Ketones
  • Aldehydes

Some waxes are synthetic and made of long-chain hydrocarbons such as alkanes or paraffins.

What Is beeswax?

Beeswax is remarkable because of its unique chemistry and versatile uses. It is a natural soft pliable wax with a complex composition. Honey bees (genus Apis) produce the wax from eight abdominal glands. They form it into a honeycomb of cells to store honey and protect larval and pupal in the beehive.

People found a variety of uses for beeswax over the centuries. They used it as an adhesive and to help waterproof buildings. During the middle ages, Europeans discovered that beeswax was an excellent ingredient for candles. It is flammable and does not have the unpleasant odor of tallow candles made of fat from cows or sheep.

Koster Keunen started making candles with beeswax in 1852. Today, beeswax continues as an indispensable raw material for a broad range of uses in the production of food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

In cosmetics, beeswax creates a thin protective layer over the skin. This helps prevent moisture loss and protects it from the environment.

Beeswax acts as an emulsifier in product formulations. It creates a soft silky texture, seals out air, prevents water loss and provides surface protection.