Beeswax

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Beeswax (or cera alba) is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. Chemically, beeswax consists mainly of esters of fatty acids and various long-chain alcohols.

Composition

On average, unhydrolyzed beeswax contains esters (71%), hydrocarbons (15%), free acids (8%) and other compounds (~6%).[1]

Its main constituents are palmitate, palmitoleate, and oleate esters of long-chain (30–32 carbons) aliphatic alcohols, with the ratio of triacontanyl palmitate CH3(CH2)29O-CO-(CH2)14CH3 to cerotic acid CH3(CH2)24COOH, the two principal constituents, being 6:1. Various other long-chain alcohols are present, as well as a few percentages of various other side biological products from bees or plants.

Properties

Physical

Beeswax is a yellowish waxy solid, which melts at around 62 to 64 °C. Heating it above 85 °C causes it to discolor, due to decomposition. Its flash point is around 204.4 °C . Beeswax is soluble in acetone, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, diethyl ether, turpentine and vegetable oils, as well as sparingly soluble in cold benzene and carbon disulfide. It is insoluble in water and mineral oil.

When natural beeswax is cold (compared to room temperature) it is brittle and will easily fracture. At room temperature (around 20 °C), it is tenacious and it softens further at human body temperature (37 °C). The specific gravity of beeswax at 15 °C is from 0.958 to 0.970, while that of melted beeswax at 98 to 99 °C is 0.9822.[2]

Chemical

As it is comprised mainly of esters, beeswax will react with a solution of alkali to form soap.

Beeswax does not ignite easily on its own.

Availability

Beeswax is sold by most if not all beekeeping stores and sometimes even pharmacies. Can also be bought online or from various suppliers.

Beeswax may also be used as a food additive E901, in small quantities acting as a glazing agent, which serves to prevent water loss, or used to provide surface protection for many fruits.

Production

Beeswax is made by bees, obviously.

Cody made a video showing how to separate raw beeswax from honey.

Projects

  • Sealant
  • Candlemaking
  • Shoe and furniture polishing
  • Make Cutler's resin
  • Make cosmetics

Handling

Safety

Beeswax is edible, having similar negligible toxicity to plant waxes, and is approved for food use in most countries and in the European Union.

Storage

In closed plastic bottles.

Disposal

Since it's practically non-toxic, no special disposal is required.

See also

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02532476
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128021040000226

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