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Beeswax

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Beeswax

Beeswax

Beeswax

Beeswax

Among different by-products of the beekeeping wax
is an important by-product. It is a complex mixture of several components
consisting of mainly free fatty acids. The pure beeswax consists of 284
different compounds. Worker bees start secreting wax when they are of 12-18
days old. The wax is liquid at the time of secretion but solidifies when
exposed to air. It further solidifies with time and gets deposited as scales.
These scales are scraped off by the bee, chewed and masticated into pliable
pieces with the addition of saliva and variety of enzymes and prepare a comb of
hexagonal calls. To produce one part of wax, bees have to consume about 4-7
times more as they eat for the production of honey. Bee uses thee wax for the
assembling of ‘pool tables’ i.e. fill the screw holes and the seams between the
slates in the hive. Honeycomb wax is nearly white, but becomes progressively
more yellow or brown by incorporation of pollen oils and other chemicals. About
44% of beeswax is a cocktail of diverse minor compounds probably accounts for
beeswax’s characteristic plasticity and low melting point. Beeswax is insoluble
in water and resistant to many acids but gets dissolves easily in most of the
organic solvents such as ether, benzene, benzyl, chloroform and turpentine oil.
It is also soluble in alcohol and fatty oils after little warming.

The majority of beeswax produced is consumed by
beekeepers for making of comb foundation sheets. However, beeswax is also used
in a variety of products and process from packaging to processing, few of the
as follows:

Candles

Making candle using the beeswax has a long
history. As we know, the candles are used during making celebration. This sector
consumes large quantity of beeswax.

Metal Casting and Modelling

This is another important area where the beeswax
is being used expansively. You can prepare different designs and models on the
metals using the beeswax; which in turn is used to make plaster moulds for
casting.

In Cosmetics

The beeswax is an important ingredient in
different cosmetics preparations owing to its skin friendly, shine and
consistency properties. Few prominent cosmetic preparation in which the beeswax
is used are like lipsticks, cold creams, mascara, eye shadows, lotions, hair
conditioners etc.

Food Processing

Beeswax is an authorised food preservative. Due to being water proof and glossy, it is coated over the fruits and vegetables to prevent the moisture loss in order to enhance their shelf life. It is also used in the production of different products such as chocolates, chewing gum etc.

Polishes

Due to its being glossy and shining, it is
extensively used in the varnishes and polishes. After their painting, the
objects shine and also remain intact for longer period of time as there will
not be any impact of moisture.

In Medicines

Beeswax is antimicrobial in nature. As a coating
agent for the drugs or pills, beeswax facilitates ingestion but retards
dissolution of the enclosed compounds until they reach to the digestive tract.
Beeswax can also be prepared as a mixture with the drug and then function as a
time-release mechanism (releasing the drug over a longer period of time).

Other Uses

Beeswax is used in grafting wax, crayons, floor
and furniture polish, textile dyes, sealing wax, corrosion protective, car
polishes and sewing thread etc. Beeswax actually finds use in over 120
industrial applications.

In conclusion, beeswax is a versatile material with
diverse uses and applications across a broad spectrum of products. Being a
natural substance it is far more user friendly than any of its chemical
counterparts. Humane beekeeping and humane harvesting of wild beeswax
contributes towards making a lot of industries a little more sustainable.

Author:
R. Seshadri Ayengar, Assistant Professor, School of Communication Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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