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Beeswax 101: The Humble Bee’s Astounding Contribution to Candle Making

Posted: November 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: articles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

A Short History on Beeswax

Beeswax is the cleanest burning, brightest and only naturally scented wax available. It is collected from honeybees, a creature whose activities scientists can measure and marvel at, but never comprehend.


The Chinese Tang Dynasty were the first to use beeswax and during the Middle Ages, spread throughout Europe. 14th century English Royals would pay their servants with beeswax candles. They were a marked improvement over tallow  however considered a luxury item unavailable to many. Even today, beeswax is over twice as expensive as oil based wax however it burns approximately one inch every hour, far longer than paraffin and soy.

One of nature’s most humbling processes is the activity of the bumblebee. In addition to pollinating plants, they provide a wonderful food source and the byproduct of these activities is our ability to harvest their beeswax.

A bee flies some 75,000 miles to gather the nectar for a pound of honey. It will need to consume 10 to 15 pounds of  honey to produce one pound of wax. This is the wax-unmatched by any other and deemed most fitting for use in the highest quality premium candles.

Unlike oil based waxes, beeswax candles contain no additives that may cause some to be subject to various allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Without the additives used to help candles burn, beeswax candles use a larger diameter cotton wick.

All candles require monitoring. Beeswax candles additionally require one to trim the wick to approximately .5 inches to continuously achieve an optimal burn. Most non-beeswax candles use self-trimming wicks that turn to carbon and curl down. Failure to monitor a beeswax wick will cause the candle flame to slowly diminish.

When burning a beeswax pillar candle, it’s important to allow it to burn long enough to form a hot pool of wax up to the edge of the candle. This can take anywhere from one to two hours of continuous burn time. If this doesn’t occur, a wall of wax will form in the middle of the candle creating a gap around the wick. It will receive little oxygen and be unable to stay lit.

Many candle makers swear by the beneficial characteristics of beeswax claiming it emit negative ions that acts as a natural air freshener. Beeswax candles create an inner sense of well being. The light emitted from a beeswax candle closely duplicates the natural spectrum of light. It is virtually dripless and isn’t an oil based fuel source therefore emits virtually no smoke, soot or harmful particles.

Article reposted with permission, courtesy of General Wax Company