One of the great benefits of keeping bees is beeswax. Beeswax has a long history and its uses are legion. We use it to keep things running smoothly – such as fixing door hinges and swing mechanisms. They also make lovely candles with a beautiful aroma as they burn. However we get the most use out of beeswax as a timber and leather preservative. Variations of beeswax furniture polish line our shelves and are used to seal our woodwork, polish our boots and treat our beehives.
So how is it made?
As top bar beekeepers we have a lot of crushed beeswax. To turn this into pure wax we do the following steps. Please excuse the quality of the photos – we made it at night time while our daughter slept and the lighting was bad.
- Heat wax with water, heat until melted
2. Strain hot wax/water through cheesecloth or sacrificial sieve (nothing that touches hot wax will be the same again. The photo below shows a lot of dark material sieved out. The wax used included some very old comb with a lot of old casings (the lining of the brood comb)
3. Let cool. The wax will solidify on top.
4. Drain the water off the bottom. If the wax was fresh this honeyed water can be used to make mead (that’s a whole other blog).
The Polish Ingredients
Generally speaking we use some or all of the following ingredients, in various proportions:
- Beeswax –This forms a durable coating.
- Limonene – Citrus Turpentine – we use this as a thinner.
- Linseed oil – This oil penetrates wood and hardens. Unboiled is better but I use what’s on the shelf.
- Olive Oil – We use this as an extender to make the polish more workable.
There are many, many recipes with variations of proportions of the above ingredients available on the internet. The final product can be a liquid, cream/paste or a solid block depending on the proportions of each ingredient. The exact proportions in each recipe mentioned are not critical. Vary the amounts of each ingredient to suit yourself. Remember, the more Limonene or olive oil you add, the more liquid will be the final product.
The process to make a solid beeswax furniture polish
- 2 part beeswax
- 2 part Linseed Oil
- 1 part Limonene
Mix all ingredients in an old can.
Heat the can on a double boiler (i.e in a saucepan of water), This prevents overheating and the chance of fire (did i mention all the ingredients are flammable). Mix them together to form a paste. Let it all cool down and use as a polish.
Here i am applying the polish while still hot, it allows increased penetration. Our good friend James da Costa uses a very similar mix to treat the outside of his beehives
Rub, rub, rub.
We have also used a recipe based on olive oil. The proportions are below and the process the same as above. This makes a “creme” type polish. This recipe is more suitable for the regular touch ups around the home to give timber back its special shine.
Beeswax polish paste
- 1 parts beeswax
- 3 parts olive oil
- ¼ part Limonene
This blog was written by Anton Vikstrom, he’s usually working outside or inside doing things like making furniture polish. Every now and then I squeeze blog out of him too.