The glandular secretions of honeybees can do more than divide the cells of a beehive; beeswax-based paint-coated walls in Ancient Greece and copies of the Magna Carta were delivered in 1215 bearing a beeswax seal.
These days, it’s mostly an ingredient in candles and cosmetics, but you can visit a craft store or a farmers’ market, pick up a cake of it, and put it to work around the house as well, including using beeswax polish on wood furniture.
10 Beeswax Uses
- Unstick a drawer. A thin coat of beeswax on wooden rails makes the wood drawers on Granny’s old bureau slide smoothly. It does windows, too. Use wax to lubricate sashes.
- Free frozen nuts. Help loosen a rusted nut by lubricating the bolt’s threads with melted wax.
- Beeswax for wood. For structural elements that need to look good but take no wear (such as exposed ceiling beams), heat equal parts beeswax, linseed oil, and turpentine. Apply with a burlap rag while the mixture is still warm.
- Preserve bronze. To ward against oxidation caused by moist air, brush on a solution of ⅓ pound beeswax melted in 1 quart turpentine. Buff it with a towel to create a thin, hard coat.
- Whip frayed rope. Wrap a waxed length of string tightly around the rope’s tip about a dozen times. Tie off the loose end and trim the excess.
- Lube screws. Georgia Beekeepers’ Association president Robert Brewer rubs wax over the threads of screws to make them drive smoothly and resist corrosion.
- Condition a wood cutting board. Add a half-teaspoon beeswax to a cup of mineral oil, microwave until the wax melts, and apply the mixture to the board with a soft cloth.
- Beeswax polish on concrete counters. Give a sealed, dark concrete countertop a muted, natural luster by rubbing melted beeswax over the surface with a chamois cloth. Let it dry and then wipe, says Fred Hueston, director of the National Training Center for Stone and Masonry Trades.
- Preserve a patina. Seal a copper sink by rubbing it with softened beeswax and polishing off the excess with a lint-free rag, says Shane Jost, owner of Mountains Edge Copperart.
- Waterproof leather. Combine equal parts beeswax, tallow, and neatsfoot oil (available online). Warm the mixture and use a rag to rub it on your work boots or gloves.