Finishing Wood With Beeswax: Advantages & Disadvantages to Know

polishing furniture with beeswax

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When choosing a wood finish product, it’s important to consider its quality and safety while not compromising the result. Beeswax polish has been gaining attention as a safe option as a natural wood polish and finish, but is it a worthwhile option? Our pro woodworkers and researchers have rounded up the pros and cons of finishing wood with beeswax.

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 the use and type of your wood pieces. Here, our experienced woodworkers will share its pros and cons to help you decide whether or not you should apply beeswax to your wooden furniture.

refinishing wooden surface

Advantages

Aside from aesthetics, there are a number of positive effects that beeswax wood polish can provide: 

Easy Application

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. Wax is applied by hand and requires some physical effort to manually apply wax using a clean cloth.

Environmentally Friendly

Using beeswax polish on indoor and outdoor furniture is an environmentally friendly wax finish option. It is non-corrosive and meets safety standards for inhalation, toxicity, combustibility, and skin absorption. 

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.

Budget-Friendly Option

Beeswax wood polish is inexpensive due to its widespread availability and as a natural substance. There are also several reputable references and guides that can 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.

beeswax used as wood lubricant on stuck drawers

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

The application of beeswax for wood as furniture polish can cover and seemingly “repair” sun-damaged surfaces and scratches due to continuous use. This coating is readily absorbed by the wood fibers compared to other wood polish.

Waterproof

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.

Food-Safe

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.

homemade beeswax

Disadvantages

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

Beeswax may have promising results but there are some materials that a wax finish is not suitable for. Unsealed surfaces such as raw wood, linoleum-covered wood flooring, vinyl, and other plastics.

Weaker than Polyurethane

Due to the presence of pigments, polyurethane [1] 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.

polishing furniture with beeswax

Requires Maintenance

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?

Finishing wax repels moisture and dust. Wax is a good sealant for wood which creates a protective layer against water and chemicals. Also, wax can give a soft silky feel to the wood.

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.

wooden furniture applied with beeswax

Does Beeswax Make Wood Surfaces Slippery?

Beeswax makes wood surfaces slippery due to its lubricating nature.  Furthermore, beeswax melt at certain temperatures making it very sticky and slippery.

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:

Carnauba Wax

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

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.

FAQ

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. 

Conclusion

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. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen and women. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson