World of Honey

Bulk Beeswax

I’ve included this article on bulk beeswax because people often ask about larger quantities for use in their businesses.   There is a ready market for bulk beeswax for use in manufacturing but there are some pitfalls you need to be aware of so please read on for some useful information.

How Much is Bulk?

Beeswax is one of those things that can be bought in just about any quantity.  You can buy just a pound if that’s all you need, but for the very keenest price you may need to order as much as 20 tons which is the minimum order for one importer I know of!  Unit sizes also vary enormously.  I have seen 1lb blocks; 5lb blocks; 10lb blocks; 10kg buckets; 25kg sacks; 50kg sacks – you can get pretty much whatever you need.

Uses for Bulk Beeswax

Bulk wax is used as a raw ingredient for manufacturing a large number of very different products.  Here are a few common uses:

Beeswax used as a stand-alone product

  • as a sealing or binding material for wood, concrete, metal, leather, sewing thread, rope, hair
  • as a waterproofing material for tent seams, fishing flies and nets
  • for “lost wax” sculpture. (This is when the wax is carved into a scuplture, then a negative mold made on the surface of the wax, the wax melted out, and the mold used to cast the sculpture in, say, bronze.)
  • to make candles or ear candles
  • to act as a machine lubricant
  • used in batik (a method of dyeing cloth where wax is applied to those areas where the dye is not to reach and the original color is to be kept).

Beeswax used as an ingredient

in these products:

  • lip balm
  • hand cream
  • cosmetics
  • furniture polish
  • lubricants
  • soap

Beeswax Quality

Although beeswax starts out as a natural product, it is very easy to lose some of the natural characteristics in processing, as with honey.

If you need beeswax where the color and scent is retained, for example where the wax is the major or only component in a decorative product such as in candles, it is best to look for a wax that is made by melting the comb just above the melting point, as this will ensure that all of the sweet fragrance and golden color is locked in.

If you are planning to use beeswax in a pharmaceutical product such as a lip balm, or in a product that will come into contact with food, there are some special considerations to be aware of.  Beeswax is approved as a safe food substance by the FDA (U.S. Food and drug Administration) under the Code of Federal Regulations, regulation 21, section 184.1973.  This means that the product, in its pure state, is approved for food use.  This does not mean that all beeswax for sale is suitable for food or pharmaceutical use, because production processes may have contaminated it.  Let’s look a some tips to make sure you don’t come unstuck:

Beeswax Buying Tips

Pharmaceutical grade beeswax is for use in cosmetics such as balms and lipsticks.  If you are planning to use beeswax to make these products, you will need evidence that any product described as pharmaceutical grade does actually meet the standards laid down by the USP-NF reference book (United States Pharmacopeia / National Formulary).  In addition to this, a supplier may also have a product tested by the USP and if it meets the required standard, it can be labeled and described as a “USP-verified pharmaceutical ingredient” and it can carry the appropriate USP logo.

This is a complex area and if you get it wrong you could find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit by a customer.  For this reason, if you are planning to use beeswax in the manufacturing of cosmetics or products that will come into contact with food, I highly recommend that you employ a specialist food consultant to help you check out potential suppliers.

Of course, many smaller suppliers of beeswax cannot economically afford to get their products certified by official bodies.  If you are using products from such suppliers it is most definitely advisable to employ a food consultant for advice on getting the raw ingredient or your finished product tested and certified.

Pricing

It is very difficult to give accurate prices for beeswax because like any commodity, pricing fluctuates according to supply and demand, and the quality of individual products also comes into play.  A very rough look at a number of sources puts the average wholesale price at around three dollars per pound, but I may as well post the price of oil at the time of writing – that would not be much use to you either.

Allergy Labels

Finally, a warning about allergy.  As with any bee product, beeswax could cause an allergic reaction in some people and your food consultant may advise a warning on the label if your product is a pharmaceutical or comes into contact with food.