Chemical formula: C15 H31 CO2 C30 H61, combined into about 300 different long chain molecules. The aroma of beeswax is created by 48 different hydrocarbon compounds and of the 100 volatile constituents in beeswax, only 41 have been identified.
Insoluble in water, density 0.95 (beeswax floats)
Becomes brittle below 64° F (18° C)
Becomes soft and pliable above 95-104° F (35-40° C)
Melting point, 149° F (65° C, highest melting point of any known wax)
Flash Point, 490-525° F (254-274° C)
Stable chemical makeup that essentially remains constant over time. Beeswax does not oxidize and it is not affected by mildew.
All bees make wax in epidermal glands to cover their outer layer of cuticle to prevent water loss
Honey bees produce beeswax from eight paired glands on the underside of their abdomen.
Young worker bees secrete pure white droplets of wax called "scales." One pound of beeswax contains approximately 800,000 scales.
Bees must consume eight to ten pounds of pollen to produce one pound of beeswax.
When the bees make one pound of beeswax into comb, it will hold 22 pounds of honey.
Persons new to beeswax candles are often perplexed by the appearance of a whitish deposit forming on their candles over time. This is called "bloom". It is the action of the natural minerals rising to the candle surface. Some people like bloom, as it is an assurance of high quality 100% beeswax and gives the candle an antique appeal. If a shinier surface or more contemporary look is preferred, simply wipe the bloom off with a lint free cloth (nylon hosiery is perfect for this task) or carefully warm it for a few seconds with a hair dryer.
The importance of honey production in ancient times was secondary to the production of beeswax. The following are but a few of the applications of this incredibly versatile substance:
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
Throughout the ages beeswax played a significant role in history and folk lore. From the myth of Icarus flying too close to the sun with wings made of beeswax to Pilyn (23 AD to 79 AD) who described a broth made from beeswax used as a remedy for dysentery and as a skin softener, beeswax was frequently used by the ancients. In some cultures beeswax was used as currency and was highly prized. In fact, in 181 BC when the Romans defeated the Corsicans, they imposed at tax of 100,000 pounds of beeswax.
In the 1300's farmers in France paid an annual tax of 2 pounds of beeswax each. (One can only wonder what became of those unfortunate farmers with no beekeeping skills.) In that same century a petition was presented to the London Court of Alderman by the 'Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers" which ultimately established them as the oldest English guild. During this same period the Roman Catholic Church decreed beeswax candles to be the only type candle appropriate for use by the church.