History of Beeswax that Beards Love

June 03, 2017

History of Beeswax that Beards Love

A very important ingredient in our beard care range is Beeswax. In its most literal term the word 'beeswax' does not need much explaining, a wax that is produced by bees, but what is the history behind it?

What is Beeswax

Also known as Cera Alba, beeswax is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. The wax which consists of around 284 different compounds, including long-chain alkanes, acids, esters, and polyesters is formed into "scales" by eight wax-producing glands in the abdominal segments of worker bees, who discard it in or at the hive.

Formed through being secreted by worker bees from their mirror glands, the initially colourless substance ends up mixed with pollen from the hive worker bees which combined with a period of mastication gives the wax its yellowy-brown colour. The bees then use the mixture to create the well-known hexagon shaped 'honeycomb cells' that are used as their home, as well as for the storage of their honey and wax reserves. (Read more at Wikipedia)

The History of Beeswax

Of course beeswax has been 'discovered' and in use from ever since bees have existed, for humans there doesn't seem to be an exact first moment that was recorded as it was already in use in many BC civilisations, meaning you could assume it had a variety of uses that either worked or didn't, spread between communities by word-of-mouth. Presumably also involved a lot of the stereotypical cavemen knocking a beehive off a tree with a big stick and coming back later for its resources. It is known, however, that in the Neothilic ages it was used as a primitive form of tooth filling. Maybe best not to eat any hot food after having that done...

In some of those ancient civilisations, beeswax showed its first signs of a more industrial and versatile nature. The ancient Egyptians applied beeswax in the mummification and embalming process by sealing the coffin to air-tightness, as well as preserving their writings (both on cave walls and on papryus) with the effectiveness that many of those records remain to this day over 2 millennia on, and the more sinister application of voodoo sculptures made entirely from the substance.

Artisans also used beeswax in a lost wax casting method, in which they sculpted using beeswax, and coated with clay which was then hardened with wax-melting heat to create a clay shell, which could be used either as a sculpture in itself or as the basis for molten metal to form jewellery.

Ancient Chinese civilisations also found beeswax to be a substance of high importance, with a lot of usage in medicine, and as a dietary supplement. While the Romans would make candles from them, something which is a tradition to this day in the Roman Catholic Church. And centuries down the line from the ancient Romans, the region had an abundance of beeswax which would be used to pay tribute to royalty.

The ancient Greeks, meanwhile, were not quite as headline-worthy in terms of unique practical uses, but certainly in the realms of mythology. The famed tale of Icarus and Daedalus is well-known, as the pair made themselves wings from feathers and beeswax to fly across the sea, with the former flying too close to the sun resulting in his wings melting and his death by drowning. A tale to warn against hubris, and maybe the same for anyone who thinks beeswax is invincible.

So as a highly common part of life in those societies, it is little surprise that to this day beeswax is not just for bees. Of course with advancement in technology comes improved ways of harvesting the substance, with the wax caps cut from collected honeycomb cells with an 'uncapping knife' or machine, and after collecting the honey (which obviously has its own uses), the wax will be rendered of any impurities through a melting and filtering process with water. The parts that don't make if through the filter are known as slumgum, which can either be re-rendered to try and obtain more wax, or applied as a fertiliser, meaning pretty much all of a honeycomb has purpose.

After possible mixing with oil to make the wax more usable in cooler temperatures, the finished product can be taken to a range of modern applications, including candles, polishing material, surgcial bone wax, improving the effectiveness of certain musical instruments such as the accordian or the tambourine, and of course cosmetics and beard care.

And one of those cosmetic uses can be found in the form of our own range of traditional beard products containing beeswax:-

Mustache Wax - Which combines beeswax and petrolatum to offer the perfect firm substance to melt between the fingers and shape the hairs on facial (and head) hairs. It is also useful for keeping the hairs away from that upper lip, and the beeswax keeps the hairs waterproof too.

Beard Balm - We combine Beeswax, Shea Butter, Hemp & Jojoba Oils to create the magical balm for styling and nourishing your beard and mustache. The beeswax is essential for holding the style while the other ingredients infuse the follicles

This magical ingredient can also be found in our Tattoo Balm and Ear Stretching Balm




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