Is beeswax a good wood finish? Most of us have interacted with beeswax without knowing how valuable this product is to wooden structures. Here’s what you need to know:
One of the deciding factors in determining your wood’s durability and the visual appeal is the product you choose to finish or polish your wood. Many wood finishing products are on sale today, and each of them has unique advantages and disadvantages.
Though not as popular as other finishing products, beeswax provides an instant shine to exposed surfaces. It is a natural finish that doesn’t incorporate synthetic additives and can shine in the right situation. But…
Is Beeswax a Good Wood Finish?
Yes, beeswax is a good wood finish as it can nourish the wood and reverse the effects of sun damage. This product also hides the surface imperfections on wood, such as scratches, but it’s not the best sealant option against extreme moisture.
In this post, I’ll walk you through different aspects of beeswax and the benefits you get each time you use it for your wooden structures. Keep reading for more.
How Do You Finish Wood With Beeswax?
Beeswax can keep your wood looking new for years. It seeps Into the wood grain and offers the best formulation to reveal the wood character.
Knowing how to finish your wood with this quality product is an essential skill every DIYer should be well-versed with. However, don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar with this DIY job, as this guide offers insight into the steps involved. Read below!
Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace
Find a well-ventilated space to wax your wood. If you’re working indoors, open all windows to allow air circulation. This allows the wood to dry faster.
Step 2: Clean the Surface to Remove All Contaminants
It’s always good to begin with a clean surface, whether waxing unfinished or painted wood. Use a paint thinner to remove all the existing finish on the surface. You may also want to use a scraper for stubborn coatings.
Wipe over the surface with a damp cloth that doesn’t have loose edges to avoid introducing fibers into the wax. Then allow the wood to stay for some minutes to dry before sanding.
Step 3: Sand the Wood
Sanding helps open the wood pores, enhancing better absorption of the beeswax finish. Use 100 grit sandpaper for sanding the wood in the wood grain direction. You can also use a sanding block or machine depending on the wood size that you want to polish.
Make the final sanding round with 180 grit sandpaper to offer you a smooth and even surface. After that, vacuum the sanding dust produced, then run a damp cloth to collect every dust particle on the wood surface. Give the surface time to dry before proceeding.
Step 4: Dip a Clean Cloth or a Wax Brush Into the Beeswax Can
If you don’t want your hands to get messy, dip a stiff wax brush with flat bristles into the beeswax container. Move the wax brush back and forth to coat the strands with wax.
If you don’t have a wax brush, pour a coin-sized amount of beeswax onto a clean cloth. Ensure the cloth doesn’t have loose threads that might introduce fibers into the finish.
Step 5: Apply the Beeswax Finish.
Gently rub the beeswax across the wood surface, starting from one point and working towards the opposite side. Apply the wax in thin layers and small circular motions to prevent streaks. It’s good to work with multiple thin layers instead of a thick coat that dries dull.
Continue dabbing the brush into the wax every few swipes to apply more beeswax rather than lifting it off.
Note: If you notice wax ridges on your wood, you have applied excess wax, and you will need to buff off the extra.
Step 6: Wait for the Wood to Dry According to the User’s Instructions
Most beeswax finishes dry within 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s advisable to wait up to 30 minutes. However, expect the wax to take longer to dry if you are in a poorly ventilated workspace or if it’s cold. The beeswax should turn from shiny to dull as it dries.
Tip: You can touch the beeswax surface gently to tell if it’s dry. Your finger should slide smoothly across the surface of the wax is dry. It shouldn’t feel sticky.
Step 7: Buff the Wood for a Shiny Finish
After you’re sure that the waxed wood is completely dry, you should buff the surface with a clean cloth to develop a shiny finish. Take a wax-free material and rub your wood until the wax coating glows. Work in circular motions across the wood surface until you achieve your desired shine.
Note: You can also buff the beeswax with a buffer drill attachment for optimal results. It doesn’t matter whether or not you buff against or with the wood grain.
Step 8: Allow Enough Drying Time Before Continuing
It’s best to apply three beeswax coatings to make your wood aesthetically pleasing and water-resistant for a while. But before adding extra coats, give the previous coats enough time to dry, and remember to buff the beeswax between each application to get a shiny surface.
Note: After waxing and buffing your wood, let it sit for nearly 30 minutes before introducing any impact or using the wood. Otherwise, you might scratch or damage the beeswax, meaning you will have to reapply another coat.
Here’s a Video On Waxing Wood:
Can You Use Beeswax to Seal Wood?
You can use beeswax to seal your wood surface, but don’t expect it to provide the excellent protection offered by other durable sealant products. Beeswax only works as a coating that hides the surface imperfections while increasing the wood’s durability.
Usually, beeswax wears off quickly as it ages, so you will want to reapply occasionally to ensure it seals your wood like other sealers. Wood sealers penetrate the wood grain deeper than beeswax because they contain synthetic additives suspended in the wood. This makes wood sealers more tolerant to moisture and other degrading elements than beeswax.
However, that doesn’t mean you should disregard beeswax as a wood sealer. You can blend this product with natural oils such as coconut oil or mineral oil to create a durable coating that will protect your wood against the elements.
However, you will still need to recoat the waxed surface regularly to ensure that your wood remains in good working order for years.
How to Make Beeswax Furniture Polish?
Beeswax is an excellent material to work with, considering it’s non-toxic. You can mix it with different oils to create a tough coating with a pleasant smell. If you want to make the wax softer, add more oil to the wax ratio. But if you want a hard wax, use more beeswax in the ratio. Get more details below:
Step 1: Find a Small Metal Bowl and a Large Stockpot to Melt Your Beeswax In a Double Boiler
If you already own a double boiler, use its two pots. Otherwise, purchase a large stockpot, then find a small metal bowl or saucepan that fits nicely inside the stockpot. Find another one that can sit on the lip of the large stockpot to avoid touching the bottom.
If you will work with a saucepan, position the handle on the lip of the large stockpot, whereas the pan’s bottom floats on water. If you have a tall metal pitcher that doesn’t connect the bottom of the stockpot, slide a metal cookie cutter below and place the smaller bowl above it. The cookie-cutter will raise the bowl off the heat.
Note; Don’t use plastic or glass metal bowls as they might shatter or melt. Also, you will not be placing the beeswax into the stockpot, so you can use a pot you cook food with. However, choose an old one since you will place the beeswax into the bowl or saucepan.
Step 2: Line the Base of the Stockpot With Water
Depending on the bowl type you place inside the large stockpot, you may want more or less water. Fill the base of the stockpot with enough water at least 2 to 3 inches deep.
If you’re sliding the small bowl inside the larger stockpot, fill the pot about ¾ full. If the metal bowl will rest on the stock pot’s lip, stick to 2 to 3 inches of water.
Step 3: Heat the Water Until It Boils
Place the large stockpot filled with water on a stove and set the heat to “high.” Ensure the pot sits steadily on the stove burner so it won’t flip over, then let it stay there until the water boils.
Since water boils at 100 degrees Celsius, the double boiler will prevent the beeswax from exceeding this temperature range to reach its flashpoint.
Step 4: Put Solid Beeswax Pieces Into the Smaller Bowl or Saucepan
Cut the wax into smaller pieces to speed up the melting process. Aim for cubes around 1 to 2 inches wide, then place them into the small metal saucepan. Reduce the stovetop burner heat to medium or medium-high, so the water remains boiling steadily.
Place the small bowl inside the large stockpot and ensure it contacts the water though not the stock pot’s bottom. This way, you will not expose the beeswax to a direct heat source which could cause the wax to melt unevenly and cause a fire.
Step 5: Allow the Beeswax Chunks to Melt Slowly In the Simmering Water Before Adding Oil
The wax should begin to melt after about 2 to 3 minutes. But it may take at least 20 minutes to 50 minutes for the whole beeswax to melt.
Monitor the water level in the pot: if it starts evaporating, add more water until the wax melts. Don’t stir the wax pieces immediately, as the melting liquid will resume its solid state if it contacts a cold utensil.
After the wax melts for a few minutes, add three parts of your desired oil and stir until you’re sure the two liquids sufficiently mix.
Tip: Don’t allow the double boiler to dry completely during the process. Otherwise, the melted liquid will solidify. Feel free to monitor your beeswax temperature as it melts with a thermometer.
The wax should melt around 62 to 66 degrees Celsius. Don’t let the wax temperature exceed 77 degrees Celsius: otherwise, it will get discolored.
Step 6: Pour the Melted Liquid Into a Mold
Once the melted wax and oil boil enough, please switch off the stove burner, remove your liquid from the burner and transfer it to the moulds or an open glass jar.
Use care when handling the hot wax and oil to avoid getting burnt. You must wear gloves to keep your hands from contacting any wax splashes or superheated steam.
If you’re using a glass jar, ensure it is heat-resistant, so it doesn’t break.
Is Beeswax a Better Finish than Varnish?
Some wood finishes may sit on the surface, while others penetrate the wood to form a durable coating. Some are more natural, like beeswax, while others like wood varnish have synthetic additives and can be toxic. This article will address whether or not beeswax is a better finish than varnish. Read on!
Varnish is cooked with a resin to produce an enduring wood finish. Its default purpose is that of a protective coating: it doesn’t seep into the wood like wax.
But it beautifies wood and keeps it from catching stains and scratches. Varnish dries slowly, so it rarely fails to attract loose debris, hairs, and dust.
Beeswax is an excellent finish and can retain your wood’s beauty if used correctly. It penetrates different surfaces to enhance durability, and It’s easy to touch up with a rag.
You can apply this formula over other finishing products like varnish, but you can’t use a finish over it, considering it has a slippery surface.
So is beeswax a better finish than varnish?
Beeswax is DIYers’ favorite finishing product due to its non-toxic nature. However, it doesn’t have enough qualities to beat varnish.
Beeswax will often wear off with time after constant exposure to elements. The same doesn’t hold for varnish as this product has greater molecular flexibility and protects the wood from premature wear.
Varnish also has a low risk of reaction to moisture, chemicals, and alcohol than beeswax. For this reason, it is rated a better finishing product than beeswax despite its toxic ingredients.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Beeswax
Beeswax offers users many benefits to keep the waxed surface glowing for years. This product is non-toxic, making it a suitable natural alternative to toxic finishes like lacquer, varnish, and polyurethane. However, it is also linked with some disadvantages, which I will unfold in this guide.
Advantages of Beeswax Finish
Here are some of the pros of using beeswax
- Easy Apply
Beeswax goes smoothly on surfaces using a bristle wood wax brush or a clean, soft rag. Therefore, you can apply this finish on large surfaces before noticing hand fatigue. This characteristic also allows you to address any surface deformities, such as wiping off the excess wax.
- It Offers a Shiny Finish
Beeswax dries to a rich and glossy coating that brings out the true beauty of wood similar to other finishing products. This keeps wood from appearing weather-beaten.
Some wood finishes have harsh chemicals that can change the appearance and color of the wood. But with beeswax, you get your dry, dull, sun-damaged wood transformed into a nice glow.
- Beeswax Is Natural
Being natural is one of the central selling points of beeswax as a great finishing product. It doesn’t give off toxic fumes like polyurethane that can trigger allergic reactions, skin and eye irritation.
This makes beeswax an eco-friendly finishing option as it reduces the impact on ozone depletion with fewer smog-producing chemicals.
Beeswax is also food-safe, so don’t mind if your kids or family members ingest it. That makes it suitable for wooden utensils and cutting boards. You can also apply it to wooden toys for kids. This is handy if you have infants who fancy putting things in their mouths.
- Beeswax Guarantees Durability
Beeswax has high carbon paraffin, which nourishes and protects wood from daily traffic, though not more remarkable than other finishes. This guarantees much-needed durability, especially on furniture sitting next to an open door or exposed to mild moisture.
However, you will need to reinforce its strength by recoating your waxed surface whenever wear signs appear. This constant recoating lets the beeswax remain on your wood for extended periods.
- It’s Inexpensive
Beeswax can last for years, assuming sustainability measures are considered. The product is economical, considering it doesn’t need chemical additives to make it.
You can make for yourself this durable coating at home and cut down the cost of buying commercial yet toxic products like polyurethane.
Because you can mix this finish with oils, it controls the material consumption as you will need fewer coats to achieve full coverage.
Disadvantages of Beeswax
Here are some of the cons of using beeswax:
- Difficult to Remove
Though beeswax spreads quickly with a brush, sponge, or an old cloth, removing it can prove difficult after it dries. Usually, this is not bad because various ways exist to remove it from wood.
You can make several attempts with wax removal products or paint thinners until you remove the existing wax on the surface.
- Not as Effective As Other Finishes
Some products like polyurethane have synthetic additives that offer long-lasting durability and take more time to fade than beeswax. This renders beeswax a less effective candidate for furniture that endures high traffic.
Still, beeswax requires frequent maintenance to restore the wood’s beauty. Though this is a minor inconvenience, neglecting to retouch waxed surfaces can be more expensive in the long run.
- Liable to Heat Damage
Wax coatings are likely to melt and drip if exposed to high temperatures. This is primarily challenging if you plan on using a fire in the same room with waxed surfaces.
Therefore, you should avoid applying this formula on surfaces that endure extreme heat. Otherwise, the wax drips can cause a safety hazard if it lands on combustible materials.
Wax can yellow as it ages, but you won’t notice the discoloration quickly until enough time passes. This won’t occur if you finish your surface with most synthetic finishes.
Waxing Vs Oiling Wood
Wood is a natural and beautiful building material, but it’s vulnerable to premature degradation if not protected. Moisture, sunlight, insects, and fungus can damage the wood with time.
Modern methods of protecting wood from these elements can involve toxic pesticides, chemicals, etc. But waxing and oiling are one of the natural ways to keep your wood glowing.
Waxing and oiling wood protect the wood from the elements, but each method delivers different results. Your finishing choice depends on the wood type, project size, and whether or not the wood piece will stay outside.
Pros of Using Wax
- Wax delivers a shiny surface to wood if applied correctly.
- You can use wax over other wood finishing products.
- Wax is a natural finish making it suitable for kitchen utensils.
- Wax sits over the wood to give it the most natural state possible.
Cons of Using Wax
- Wax is not suitable for exterior projects given its less resistance to moisture.
- It wears off quickly and needs frequent retouch compared to oil.
- It’s slippery and can get scratched easily.
Pros of Using Oils
- Oils are eco-friendly, and people use them on kitchen utensils.
- Oil sinks deep into the wood to prevent it from absorbing the moisture that can encourage wood rot.
- It’s easy to address the surface imperfections.
- Oil protects wood from sunlight degradation.
- Oil highlights the wood grain and emphasizes the natural beauty of wood.
Cons of Using Oils
- Oil will not give a perfect shine on porous woods.
- It dries slowly and requires many coats to get promising results.
- Oils can darken the wood.
If you want to choose either of these two finishing methods, first consider your project type. Waxing is better suited for low traffic areas, whereas oiling is better for areas enduring high traffic.
Though not as effective as popular finishing products, beeswax is a good wood finish. It keeps wood less susceptible to moisture for a while and also dries quickly to reveal the wood character.
You will appreciate that this product doesn’t include toxic chemicals, so you can even use it on utensils and kids’ toys. However, expect to reapply this finish periodically to strengthen its ability to keep wood in good working condition.