I haven’t noticed a recipe for beeswax in the forums so I thought I would share mine for posterity; it is easy to make and pretty cheap. I buy the beeswax in 1 kilogram blocks from Ebay but you can’t use it ‘as is’ because it is like rock, so it must be combined with something else to soften it. I use white mineral oil for that (Ebay again); it is cheap and, like the beeswax, completely inert to humans (great for using on anything used for food preparation).
The ratio of beeswax to mineral oil is 1 to 4; this is not exact – the more oil the softer the resulting compound so in a warm environment you may want to reduce that ratio. Techniques I have seen on the Internet melt the beeswax using a pot over boiling water – it’s OK but takes forever. I use a microwave – much faster and just as easy to control.
I grate the beeswax using a cheese grater and put it in a bowl and in the microwave for a minute; important that you melt the beeswax in small increments (30 seconds to a minute each time) giving it a stir regularly until it is nice and clear (it will be hot so take care). Then I add the mineral oil and stir until it’s all mixed – should still be very clear and ‘liquidy’ at this point. Pour into jars and leave to cool; it will slowly solidify and should be firm but soft enough to spread (bit like that soft spreading butter straight from the fridge).
You can use it straight on bare wood but I like to use Tung Oil first as it seeps into the wood a bit more; you can even dilute the Tung Oil with turps 1 to 1 to get greater penetration into the wood. Leave the Tung Oil for a while (time is not that important – 15 minutes to a day) then buff the surface to remove any excess. You can use your hands or a cloth to apply the beeswax and leave for a bit – once again, time not important. Finally buff it with a clean cloth and you should get a nice low sheen finish. You can re-coat if you like; sometimes I do and other times I leave it at one.
I have tried applying with 000 steel wool but I can’t really see much difference except the steel wool leaves a bit of a mess in the beeswax. I love the smell and feel of beeswax finish; it is also safe and environmentally friendly. The only down side is that it is not very resistant to moisture; on something like a dining table it would be better to use a varnish or polyurethane. It is also not high gloss – I like the low sheen but it is not for everyone.
An interesting side effect is what it does to your skin; I had really cracked skin on my fingers but after a few sessions smearing beeswax onto wood my hands cleared up wonderfully. It leaves a greasy finish on your hands so not great in that respect but does wonders for the skin (mineral oil is the base for Baby Oil so I guess no surprise there).
Hope this is a benefit to others and I’m always keen to get suggestions and variations.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.
Thanks for the recipe! I have heard, that beeswax is often used for skin care by doctors and others who constantly wear rubber gloves.
I also tried to apply wax (ready made) with 000 steel wool, and it isn’t great. Paul Sellers recommends 0000 steel wook (four 0s!) and I think, I see, why – literally. The wool abrades the wood and is abraded and torn in return. Apparently, this is worse on coarser wool.
Thanks for sharing.
I have a few follow up questions that you may be able to answer.
Your 1:4 ratio, is that by weight or volume?
Is there a reason to use mineral oil instead of tuna oil? Put another way, is it possible to kill two,birds with one stone?
Please share your thoughts.
Hi Richard, the ratio is by volume – I actually melt the beeswax in a Pyrex measuring jug; so once it is fully liquid it is easy to measure and work out how much mineral oil to add. The ratio doesn’t have to be accurate – what we call ‘bucket chemistry’ – a bit either way won’t hurt.
The good thing about mineral oil is that it doesn’t go off (rancid); beeswax (like honey) has preservative added thanks to the bees that make it so it doesn’t go off over time either. Mineral oil is also completely inert to humans – it, literally, goes in one end and out the other – so entirely safe for bread boards and the like.
Any vegetable or animal based oil will, potentially, go rancid (even olive oil eventually) so I try to avoid them. I can leave the beeswax mixture on the shelf without having to worry. Mineral oil also doesn’t really smell – so you get just the smell of honey with the beeswax – nice. Tuna oil may not smell quite as nice – although our cats would love it :-).
Thanks for the questions.
Oh this post made my day! I was looking for a beeswax recipe and got a great laugh to boot. Richard’s typo/auto correct on tuna oil vs. tung oil, which is what I am sure he meant, still has me laughing. can you imagine putting fish oil on a wood project? LOL
Chris Schwarz just posted details on the “soft wax” that he uses. Just more input https://blog.lostartpress.com/2021/07/12/cook-your-own-linseed-oil-wax-finish/#comments
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.