Selecting the right wood finish is a balance of quality, safety, and the end result you’re aiming for. I’ve seen beeswax polish pop up more and more as folks look for natural finishing options. But is it up to the task?
Drawing from my own experiences and those of my fellow woodworkers, I’ve delved into the ins and outs of using beeswax for wood finishes.
What is Beeswax Finish?
Beeswax finish refers to the natural beauty of wooden furniture pieces as a result of applying beeswax as a finishing coat. It is easy to make beeswax for wood. What you need to do is to melt pure beeswax in a double boiler and gently stir until it is feeling silky smooth.
Next, incorporate oils into the beeswax, depending on your use and preference. Oils that can be used include mineral oil, linseed oil, walnut oil, olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and boiled linseed oil.
Due to its easy production and low cost, beeswax is commonly used as a primary wood finish.
Pros and Cons of Beeswax Wood Finish
Despite its popularity, you must first consider if beeswax finish is the right fit for your project’s use and its type of wood. Here, I’ll elaborate its pros and cons to help you decide whether or not you should apply beeswax to your wooden furniture.
Aside from aesthetics, there are a number of positive effects that beeswax wood polish can provide:
Beeswax is a soft wax. Due to its malleability, finishing wood with beeswax is easy in terms of application compared to other wood polish alternatives such as polyurethane coating. Wax is applied by hand and requires some physical effort to manually apply wax using a clean cloth.
I’ve turned to beeswax polish for indoor and outdoor furniture projects, especially when aiming for an eco-friendly finish. It’s non-corrosive and checks the boxes when it comes to safety—from inhalation risks to skin absorption. It’s a solid choice in my book.
Using environmentally friendly products can not only be advantageous to the environment but can also lower the risk of developing respiratory conditions such as asthma. Using it to finish wood will reduce indoor pollution in your homes.
Beeswax wood polish is not only inexpensive due to its widespread availability, but it’s also a natural substance. Additionally, there are several reputable references and guides available to help you create your own beeswax wood product.
Serves as a Wood Lubricant
The application of a thin coat of beeswax can help lubricate wood flooring, wooden rails, window sashes, and drawers. This will minimize pieces of wood sticking to each other.
Gives a Nice Finish and Shine
The application of a beeswax wood polish will improve the natural beauty of the wood’s entire surface due to its shine. It can even restore old furniture items by improving their color, instantly making them look new.
Can Cover Scratches on the Surface
I’ve noticed that beeswax, when used as furniture polish, can masking sun-induced wear and those inevitable scratches from daily use. This coating is readily absorbed by the wood fibers compared to other wood polish.
Beeswax coating can seal wood, thus waterproofing your furniture. Beeswax finish contains high levels of carbon paraffin which seals and serves as a protective coating on the wooden surfaces from moisture and sunlight.
Can be Removed with Solvent
There will be accidental applications of the beeswax on certain furniture or other materials in your home such as curtains, clothes, and carpets. The paste wax can be removed using solvents such as a paint thinner.
Compared to other wood finishes, beeswax wood polish is non-toxic, food-grade, and safe for human consumption. It can be used on children’s wooden toys and kitchen wood pieces such as wooden utensils, cutting boards, and bowls.
Despite its widespread use, applying beeswax on wood furniture also comes with some disadvantages.
Difficult to Wipe Off
Despite being known for its easy application, beeswax is difficult to wipe off. It needs a solvent for its complete removal.
Does Not Suit all Flooring
Though I’ve seen some commendable outcomes with beeswax, it’s worth noting it doesn’t play well with everything. Raw wood, linoleum-topped wood floors, vinyl, and certain plastics come to mind—places where a wax finish might not be the best choice.
Weaker than Polyurethane
Due to the presence of pigments, polyurethane  is more durable and takes much longer to fade compared to wax.
Can Stain Wood
Wax can cause staining on your wood items since it can penetrate deep into the wood fibers. However, there are other wood finishes that you can apply to your furniture and these include lacquers, varnishes, shellacs, and oil finishes.
When you are using beeswax on your furniture this will require a longer commitment since it requires reapplication to maintain the beauty of surfaces and protect the wax. However, reapplication does not assure a long-lasting or durable finish.
Prone to Heat Damage
These wax finishes are highly prone to heat damage. Increasing temperature can lead to the wax melting and dripping. This creates a risk especially if it drips onto combustible materials.
Can Turn Yellow
Using beeswax on furniture can lead to it turning yellow over time. However, this can be prevented when using tung oil or another type of wooden surface finish is applied.
What Does Wax Do to Wood?
Wax finishes are like a shield; they fend off both moisture and dust admirably. When I use them on wood, not only do they form a defensive barrier against water and chemicals, but they also lend the wood that soft, silky touch.
Does Beeswax Polish Accumulate Dust?
If you use beeswax to polish wood furniture, it is inevitable for surfaces to accumulate dirt, grime, and dust. This can easily be remedied by regular reapplication of the wax as well as regular cleaning using a lint-free cloth. Mineral spirits can also be used to clean the surface.
Does Beeswax Make Wood Surfaces Slippery?
From my experience, beeswax tends to give wood surfaces a bit of a slippery feel, courtesy of its inherent lubrication qualities. And be mindful of warmer conditions; beeswax can become quite sticky and even more slippery as it starts to melt.
Different Beeswax Types and Quality Grades
Different beeswax are manufactured based on the process it is subjected to and its intended uses. There are four types of beeswax which include: pharmaceutical/cosmetic grade, general use/industrial grade, organic and raw.
Beeswax vs Other Finishing Waxes
There are other types of finishing waxes available in the market if you choose not to use beeswax. Other finishing waxes include the following:
This wax is obtained from the leaves of the Carnauba palm tree. It is processed chemically and is characterized as hard and brittle with a yellowish color. It is more expensive compared to beeswax.
Mineral wax is a combination of petroleum and carbon. This type of wax is either used as a finish or a base. Mineral wax is made from pure materials, unlike beeswax.
Does beeswax change the color of wood?
Beeswax does not change the color of the wood surface. It not only provides a glossy finish but also serves as a layer of protection for your furniture. It covers the wood surface, thus retaining the color of the wood for extended periods of time.
Can you use beeswax on varnished wood?
You can use beeswax on varnished wood surfaces. Beeswax is used as an added layer of protection to the wood. It also serves to improve its luster.
Read Next: Finishing Jatoba Wood
Beeswax is an excellent wood finish. It is easy to apply on finished and unfinished furniture and it gives the wood a luxurious luster, warm shine, and natural finish. It might not be long-lasting, but with proper care and maintenance, the existing finish on your furniture will last a long time.
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