Unlike paraffin candles that are a by-product of crude oil production, pure beeswax candles are all-natural, burn longer, burn smokeless, tend to drip less and release beneficial negative ions into the air when burned. Pollutants in the air such as dust and pollen tend to carry a positive charge. The negative ions produced by the burning of pure beeswax candles combine with the positively charged particles in the air and cause them to fall to the ground, thus helping to purify your environment.
Many people use the double-boiler method for melting wax. The double-boiler method consists of placing a glass or metal container (such as a measuring cup) within a second container filled with water, and then applying heat. The wax is added to the inner container and thus melted. We simply use a 10-quart slow cooker that is solely dedicated to the purpose of melting wax. Whichever method you use, always remember to never heat the beeswax directly: Beeswax is highly flammable!
Pure beeswax is a solid at room temperature, will have a putty-like consistency at temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, melts at approximately 145 degrees, but will experience discoloration = around 185 degrees. Start out on a low temp and increase only as necessary.
Due to the solid nature of beeswax at room temperature and its relatively high melting point (approximately 145 degrees Fahrenheit), beeswax may be molded into most any shape that one can imagine, unlike soy candles. Candlemakers that use soy are limited by the type of candle that they can make due to the fact that the wax is so soft, therefore pillars, tapers and ornamental candles are mostly produced from beeswax. Although soy wax comes from the soybean plant, soy is commonly genetically modified, bleached and therefore is not a natural product like pure beeswax.
Candles can still be labeled as pure beeswax as long as they contain a large enough percentage of beeswax combined with paraffin or soy, so buyer beware. While paraffin, soy and combinations of these materials with pure beeswax produce a less-expensive candle, there is no substitute for the nuance and aroma that comes from the burning of a pure beeswax candle.
This article was originally published in the NEW PIONEER ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.