You use honey to whip up delicious recipes (honey mustard sheet-pan chicken with Brussels sprouts, anyone?) and DIY face masks, but did you know that those busy bees produce another sticky substance that you can use in a myriad of ways? We’re talking about beeswax—the magical material bees create in order to make honeycomb.
When beekeepers harvest honey, a byproduct from the extraction process is leftover beeswax. This is then melted into blocks that you can purchase online or at your local farmers market if you so choose—and we think you should. Here’s why: Beeswax is a natural substance that can be used in your home, beauty routine and even in your cooking. It has a long shelf life (it’s been found undisturbed in the tombs of ancient pharaohs), burns well and has protective qualities. But what should you do with this all-natural and long-lasting product? Here, 15 uses for beeswax to get you started.
1. Make Candles
Sure, you could spend $10 on a ready-to-go votive…or you could, um, spend $10 to make your own. Alright, we’re not going to lie—picking up a candle at the store is infinitely easier than DIY. But the nice thing about getting in touch with your inner Martha Stewart is that you can control exactly what goes into your candle—including its scent. (FYI: We’re fans of these adorable homemade lemon candles that smell divine and repel mosquitos.)
2. Lubricate Wood
You were thrilled when you inherited your great aunt’s mahogany dresser. Until you realized how much it creaks every time you so much as touch one of the drawers. Enter—you guessed it—beeswax. Rub some of this natural lubricant on squeaky drawers, doors and windows and be amazed at the results.
3. Make Your Own Beeswax Wrap
Newsflash: Plastic is terrible for the planet. But when it comes to keeping your food fresh, there is a more sustainable alternative to your usual plastic wrap. Enter beeswax wrap—a washable, reusable and compostable product that’s made with cotton, beeswax and a few other natural ingredients like jojoba oil and tree resin. Learn how to make your own reusable food wrap here or buy them online—we like Bee’s Wrap Sandwich Wrap ($11) and Bee's Wrap Assorted 3 Pack ($18).
4. Whip Up a Batch of Canelés
These French pastries are crunchy on the outside, custardy on the inside and delicious all-around. Traditionally, the special molds are coated in beeswax and butter and then frozen before the batter is added and baked, which helps give the treats their special shape and crisp exterior. (Beeswax is totally edible so this is perfectly safe.) Could you skip all that work and just use non-stick cooking spray? Sure, but where’s the fun in that? Here’s a recipe for how to make canelés using beeswax.
5. Polish Furniture
Are your dining room chairs looking a little worse for wear? Spruce them up with a lick of all-natural, homemade furniture polish. All you need are two ingredients and some elbow grease. Here’s how: Add one parts beeswax to three parts olive or coconut oil and gently heat over a double boiler until melted. Allow to cool and harden, then gently rub onto wooden furniture using a clean cloth. Follow up with another cloth to buff furniture until all the residue is gone and that’s it—good as new.
6. Make Crayons
Get your kids to help out with this family-friendly project. Mix equal parts beeswax and soap shavings and melt in a double boiler. Once melted, pour into molds and add a few drops of food coloring to each one to make different shades, stirring until mixed. Allow the crayons to harden (this will take a couple of hours) and they’re ready to use.
7. Make Your Own Lip Balm
Beeswax is frequently used in cosmetics thanks to its ability to lock in moisture all day. This makes it ideal for keeping your chapped lips nice and moisturized. And although it may sound intimidating, trust us on this one—if you can make your own face mask, then you can make your own lip balm. There are plenty of DIY recipes to choose from, but we like the sound of this lip balm made with peppermint oil, shea oil and coconut oil.
8. ...Or Body Butter
Skip the chemicals and keep your skin nice and supple with homemade beeswax body butter. This DIY body butter recipe can be made straight in the jar and incorporates coconut oil and your favorite essential oil. Easy peasy.
9. Waterproof Your Shoes
Got a pair of canvas shoes that you want to wear this season and next? No problem. First, clean the shoes to remove any dirt. Next, rub some beeswax directly on the shoes with a cloth and then use a blow-dryer to melt it. Rub away any excess wax with a towel and admire your handiwork.
10. Make Bronze Items Sparkle
Help prevent your candle holders from getting tarnished by creating a solution of ⅓ pound beeswax melted in one quart turpentine. Use a clean towel to buff and add a thin coat to your item.
11. Condition a Wood Chopping Board
You use it on the daily so make sure your chopping board stays fresh by melting a half-teaspoon beeswax with a cup of mineral oil and applying to the board with a clean cloth. This mixture will also moisturize and protect other wooden surfaces like spatulas, spoons and salad bowls.
12. Prevent Tools from Rusting
Coat your tools (like your garden fork and shovel) with beeswax to protect them from rusting and from the elements. Simply take a bar of wax and rub it on the metal parts, making sure to use a clean cloth after to buff off any excess.
13. Rub on Baking Pans
Keep your baking pans and sheets looking good as new by buffing beeswax onto them before using. Simply use a clean cloth to rub beeswax onto the surface and cook with the pans as normal. Over time, your pan will develop a permanent layer of wax, meaning you don’t have to oil or grease it every time.
14. Unstick Zippers
When temperatures drop, it’s time to get your winter coat out of the closet. Except that after months of not being used, the zipper is being particularly stubborn. Here’s a quick fix—just rub a small piece of beeswax along the teeth of the zipper.
15. Tame Flyaways
Frizzy hair getting you down? Just rub a little beeswax between your fingertips and smooth over strands for a sleek style that won’t turn greasy. You can even use this miracle ingredient to make your own pomade that will keep your ’do in place without looking stiff. Here’s an easy tutorial for beeswax pomade using jojoba oil and essential oils.