10 Uses for Beeswax
No longer just for candles—put this natural material to work around the house
The glandular secretions of honeybees can do more than divide the cells of a hive; beeswax-based paint-coated walls in Ancient Greece and copies of the Magna Carta were delivered in 1215 bearing a beeswax seal. These days, it's mostly an ingredient in candles and cosmetics, but you can visit a craft store or a farmers' market, pick up a cake of it, and put it to work around the house as well.
Use beeswax to:
1. Unstick a drawer. A thin coat of beeswax on wooden rails makes the wood drawers on Granny's old bureau slide smoothly. It does windows, too. Use wax to lubricate sashes.
2. Free frozen nuts. Help loosen a rusted nut by lubricating the bolt's threads with melted wax.
3. Wax wood. For structural elements that need to look good but take no wear (such as exposed ceiling beams), heat equal parts beeswax, linseed oil, and turpentine. Apply with a burlap rag while the mixture is still warm.
4. Preserve bronze. To ward against oxidation caused by moist air, brush on a solution of ⅓ pound beeswax melted in 1 quart turpentine. Buff it with a towel to create a thin, hard coat.
5. Whip frayed rope. Wrap a waxed length of string tightly around the rope's tip about a dozen times. Tie off the loose end and trim the excess.
6. Lube screws. Georgia Beekeepers' Association president Robert Brewer rubs wax over the threads of screws to make them drive smoothly and resist corrosion.
7. Condition a wood cutting board. Add a half-teaspoon beeswax to a cup of mineral oil, microwave until the wax melts, and apply the mixture to the board with a soft cloth.
8. Polish concrete counters. Give a sealed, dark concrete countertop a muted, natural luster by rubbing melted beeswax over the surface with a chamois cloth. Let it dry and then wipe, says Fred Hueston, director of the National Training Center for Stone and Masonry Trades.
9. Preserve a patina. Seal a copper sink by rubbing it with softened beeswax and polishing off the excess with a lint-free rag, says Shane Jost, owner of Mountains Edge Copperart.
10. Waterproof leather. Combine equal parts beeswax, tallow, and neatsfoot oil (available online). Warm the mixture and use a rag to rub it on your work boots or gloves.