If you are looking for a more natural way to polish the furniture, then beeswax is a good way to go. It is safe and very effective at bringing out the best of the wood, and it can help to restore the life of damaged pieces. It also provides the ultimate finish to any woodworking project.
Whilst making your own beeswax polish may seem like a daunting task, it is actually a pretty simple and easy thing to create. You can do it at home in just a few simple steps – in fact, we will show you how to in this article.
So, before we get to it, let us take a look at what beeswax is, how it can benefit you, how to make it and how to use it.
How Do Bees Make Wax?
We all know that beeswax comes from bees, but what actually is it? To put it really simply, it is a wax that is produced by honey bees – specifically of the genus Apis.
It is secreted from the glands from the abdomen of a young worker bee in thin sheet-like scales. At first, they are clear and very brittle, and nothing like the finished beeswax product.
Whilst the ability to produce this substance declines as the bee gets older, and their job is to collect pollen and sweet nectar, it does not disappear altogether. In fact, when these bees start to swarm quite rapidly to create a ‘home’ for the Queen to lay her eggs, they produce wax comb.
This is where things start to get interesting. The young bees will form a chain as they hang in a string-like fashion. The wax is released from the glands and then passes down the legs and mouth area, being chewed and moulded on its way down. This is then shaped into hexagon cells.
During this process, the wax will begin to develop colour, and become similar to what we know. Altogether, it takes around 1,100 scales to create only one gram of wax.
Where Is Beeswax Made?
A bee that forages has two stomachs – one that is purely for the collection of honey, and the other is for digesting food. The nectar that is stored begins to mix with the stomach enzymes, and once she returns to a waiting cell in the hive, she places it down.
The other cells start getting filled up with nectar as well, and the bees that are fluttering around create airflow with their wings, helping to dry out the waiting nectar. It is very clever too, as this helps the nectar to cool down and lower the content of moisture meaning it will not spoil.
The bees will then work their way around the frames of nectar, capping off (adding a top layer of wax) to each of the cells to further prevent any extra loss of moisture.
Once the beekeepers harvest the frames, they remove the wax caps with a hot knife (or some other tool), and put them in a capping tank. The frames themselves are put into an extractor that spins to bring out the honey.
The wax capping is what is made into the beeswax that we all know.
How Does Beeswax Benefit Furniture?
Beeswax has many benefits when it comes to using it on furniture. Not only is it a lot more natural than using a chemical polisher, but it is also very effective. Here are just some of the benefits:
Provides A Great Finish
Whilst a chemical polisher will do the job well, so can beeswax. Not only is it better for the environment, as well as your own health, beeswax is also a safe and natural alternative that proves a great finish to the wood.
In fact, it produces a wonderful shine that brings out the richness of the wood. This can help the wood to stay in great condition, as well as keep the colour vibrant.
Cleans And Protects
Beeswax not only makes the wood look great, but it can also help to clean up the surface and provide waterproof protection. This is a good option if you live in an area that is humid and want to protect your wooden furniture.
It can also stop wood fading from the sunlight, as well as stop dust and pollutants from attacking the material.
Suitable For All Wood Types
Beeswax is generally safe to use on all types of wood due to being a natural substance. This means that you can have peace of mind knowing that it will not ruin an antique piece of furniture that has been in the family for generations.
Can Be Used After A Wood Stain
Beeswax can be used after a number of different wood finishes such as staining and varnishing. It will not strip the wood of its extra layers and instead provide its own protection and shine.
Wood should generally have a sealant such as a stain or a varnish to protect it from the elements of daily life. Beeswax is not suitable as the ‘end layer’ of protection on the top of raw wood. Instead, it will provide extra protection and a polishing effect on top of already finished wood.
How Versatile Is Beeswax?
Beeswax is not just used for polishing and protecting wood, it also has many other uses. Due to its creamy-like properties, it can be used in a number of items to benefit the skin. Keep in mind that the beeswax is normally added to other ingredients, rather than used raw.
Here are a few examples:
Beeswax can be used as a moustache wax to tame and shape unruly facial hair, as well as give it a unique look. Think of the handlebar moustache!
The common lip balm can be a nightmare; you are constantly reapplying it, it tastes disgusting, and it disappears once you accidentally lick your lips. Beeswax lip balm is a game-changer. It stays on the lips and moisturises them really well. Some even say it tastes okay.
Not everyone thinks makeup is healthy for the skin, and as an alternative use beeswax-based mascara, lipstick and foundation. Want to know more? Check out this blog to begin your journey to natural makeup.
Whilst you can make your own, there are already many beeswax-based moisturising body bars available to buy. If you struggle with chemicals, such as if you suffer from eczema, then something like this might work wonders. Beeswax has been known to help with the itching associated with dry skin.
Why Polish Wood?
If you want your wooden furniture to stay in great condition, then it is really important to polish it. It is not unusual for wood to endure daily scrapes and knocks, but if you polish the wood, this will help to protect them from such things.
Another example is if a plate or cup that has the odd chip in it is pushed along the wooden surface. If your wood is polished, it will not scratch it, and you would never know it happened.
Also, polished wood looks great, and will cause the wood to last for many years without slowly deteriorating and looking worse for wear.
Step-by-Step Guide: Beeswax Furniture Polish
Now that you know what beeswax is and why polishing wood is important, let us get onto actually making the beeswax polish.
Just a side note, whilst you will be working in the kitchen and using tools that you might use for baking and cooking, it is always best to use dedicated beeswax items because it can be difficult to wash the mixture off.
The best way to do this is by going to a local thrift store and buying items cheap. The pan, however, is not necessary because no mixture will find its way in there.
What You Will Need:
- One quarter cup of beeswax (around 2 pounds by weight)
- Three quarter cup of either fractionated coconut oil or mineral oil (6 pounds by weight)
- (Optional) essential oil to fragrance the polish
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Glass jar or metal tin
Step 1 – Add The Beeswax
Place a couple of inches of water into a pan to use as a double boiler. Place the heat-safe bowl on top and add the beeswax into it. Allow the beeswax to melt and stir it occasionally to help it along.
Step 2 – Add The Oil
Once the beeswax is in a liquid form and still warm, add in the oil. This can be either fractionated coconut oil or mineral oil – they both will do a good job. Stir until both the beeswax and oil are mixed together.
If you want to add fragrance, now is the time to do it as well. You can add a few drops of essential oil.
Step 3 – Add Mixture To A Container
Now that you have your liquid, pour the liquid into a container such as a glass jar or metal tin. Be careful with this process as the liquid will be very hot!
Step 4 – Allow To Cool
Now that the mixture is in the container it needs a few hours to allow it to cool into a semi-solid state. This might take around three to four hours.
If you find that the beeswax is quite firm, it can be warmed up slightly to help it become easier to cut.
Store the beeswax with the lid on the container so it can last a long time.
How To Use Beeswax To Polish Furniture
You have likely realised that it is easy and simple to make beeswax polish, but how do you use it, so you can reap the most benefits? Do not worry, we will tell you how! Read on.
Step 1 – Make Sure The Wood Is Clean
If you are restoring old furniture (that does not need repainting or re-staining) and want it to look like new, then you will have to start with cleaning the wood. You can do this by using paint thinner on a lint-free rag which will help to remove dirt and any wax build-up.
As you use the product, follow the grain of the wood and use long strokes for the best effect. For hard to reach areas, you can use a toothbrush to remove grime and wax.
Just remember to always wear gloves and do the process in a well-ventilated area as paint thinner can produce strong fumes.
Step 2 – Allow It To Dry
Once you have finished with the paint thinner, allow the wood to dry completely. This might take around two to three hours – just make sure not to rush ahead.
If you want something to do during this time, you could actually make the beeswax polish.
Step 3 – Applying The Beeswax Polish
With a dry lint-free clean cloth, apply some of the beeswaxes by scooping a small amount onto the material. Apply this in circular motions onto the surface, making sure to cover every single piece of wood.
Once the above has been done, go back over the wood with long swipes that follow the grain. As soon as you see excess beeswax polish, remove it and smooth out the area of the surface.
Step 4 – Let the Polish Absorb And Then Buff
Once the polishing has been completed, let it sink into the wood for around fifteen to twenty minutes.
With another dry lint-free clean cloth buff the surface of the wood to remove any excess that might make the surface greasy. Follow the grain of the wood as much as you can, and make sure to reach for the areas that are hidden away or difficult to reach.
Step 5 – Cure Time And Finish
Now that all the hard work is complete, you can leave the furniture to cure in a warm (but not hot) room for up to 24 hours before moving it back to where it belongs.
Using beeswax to polish furniture is an easy and safe alternative to chemical polishers. It can make that old piece of furniture look near to brand-new, as well as protect it from the scratches and scrapes it may endure on a daily basis, as well as the humidity.
Whilst beeswax polish is widely available to buy, it is also really simple and quick to make your own. From the comfort of your kitchen, you can create a wonderful beeswax polish that is natural and efficient at protecting the wood.
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