Not All Beeswax Is The Same

Not all beeswax is the same, as beeswax can vary significantly depending on country, forage, bee species and cleaning processes. Also each country also grades beeswax differently.

However there are mainly four basic types of beeswax are traded: pharmaceutical / cosmetic grade and a general use/industrial grade, organic (cosmetic or general use) and raw (Strahl and Pitch, wax refiners USA).

Nearly all commercial wax produced is by Apis mellifera (Western/European honey bee). Beeswax should be GRAS listed and approved for end use under regulation 21CFR184, (1973).

Beeswax is considered safe for human consumption and has been approved as an ingredient in human food in the USA (USA, 1978). Pharmaceutical/cosmetic grade in used extensively on food and beauty products. It is inert, i.e. it does not interact with the human digestive system at all and passes through the body unaltered. However, substances dissolved or encapsulated in wax are slowly released.

General use beeswax will contain some impurities such pollen, oils or proplis. Is short, Cosmetic grade has less impurities than industrial general use grade.

What is important to know before use is the; Melting Point, Acid Value, Saponification, Ester Value and colour.

Melting Point: This should be around 62-65C, however, values within this range are not a guarantee of purity.

Acid Value: Acid value is the measure of hydrolytic rancidity. In general, it gives an indication about edibility. As the rancidity increases, the oil achieves a foul smell along with a sour taste. Typical Cosmetic Grade Acid values range from 16.8 to 24. General use beeswax Acid values are much lower.

Ester Value: Pharmacopoeia list ester values from 66 to 82 but most beeswaxes range between 72 and 80. Tulloch (1980) suggests, for cosmetic grade values of 70 to 80 are most typical. This value is calculated by subtracting the acid value of oil from the saponification value. Typical Cosmetic Grade these values from 66 to 82 but most beeswaxes range between 72 and 80 and less for general use.

Acid and ester ratios can change after excessive heating and can exceed 4.2 with heating to 100 degrees Celsius for only 24 hours, while the ester and acid values might remain within set limits. Ester and acid values in waxes from other Apis species may be significantly different (Ikuta, 1931 and Phadke et al., 1969).

Saponification: The cloud point measures the amount of hydrocarbons, which saponify (turn into soap). If the solution becomes clear at or below 65 degrees Celsius, the wax is probably unadulterated with paraffin saponification value of beeswax is 85-100. This is officially accepted, sensitive method for determining adulteration. High value of saponification value are considered to make better quality soaps than those with low saponification value.

Colour: Beeswax is naturally produced as an off white colour. When the bee comes back from foraging, it brings nectar and pollen into the hive thus staining the wax to a golden hue. The beeswax can be filtered back to almost white. Pure white beeswax has been bleach with chemicals.

When you buy beeswax it should have its characteristic yellow colour and sweet aroma when bought as rendered beeswax.

If this information is not available, you can check for impurity’s yourself by dropping some beeswax into a pot of very hot water. The wax will float to the top and the impurities will settle to the bottom. If you find impurities don’t use the beeswax for cosmetic use.  

Our beeswax has been certified by CERES (Certification of Environmental Standards) and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and are produced in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) production workshop, to eliminate any risk involved in any pharmaceutical production that cannot be eliminated through testing the final product.

From sampling & testing our competitors' products, we can safely say that our General Use beeswax is cleaner than most of our competitors Cosmetic Grade beeswax.

  1. N.a. Select Committee on GRAS (Generaly Recognized as Safe) Substances Opinion: Beeswax (yellow or white). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 18 April 2013. Web. 22 September 2015.
  2. N.a. “Beeswax (E 901) As A Glazing Agent ad As A Carrier For Flavours.” Scientific Opinion Of The Panel On Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials In Contact With Food (AFC). European Food Safety Authority Journal. 27 November 2007. Pages 1-28. Web. 24 September 2015.
  3. Kuznesof, P., Whitehouse, B. “Beeswax: Chemical and Technical Assessment.” Chemical and Technical Assessment 65th JECFA. Web. 25 September 2015
  4. DiNovi, M., Knaap, A., Kuznesof, P., Munro, C. “Beeswax.” 22 September 2015.
  5. Strahl and Pitch, wax refiners USA ( 25 September 2015.
  6. North Carolina State University. “Beeswax.” 24 September 2015.
  7. US Pharmacopeil Convention “Fats & Fixed Oils” 28 September 2015.
  8. Dr. Dileesh S “Determination of Saponification, Acid and Ester Values;Percentage of Free Fatty Acids and Glycerol in someSelected edible Oils: Calculation of concentration of Lye Needed to Prepare soap from These Oils” . 28 September 2015.


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