What is beeswax?
Beeswax, or propolis, is a liquid created by carpenter bees that can be used to look after leather. Bees have wax-producing glands that they use to create beeswax. They use the wax to build their honeycomb. This is known as “sweating”. They use their mouths to knead the wax into hexagonal cells. Beeswax can range in colour from white to yellow, depending on the type of bee it comes from.
History and properties of beeswax
Beeswax mainly consists of alcohol, fatty acids and hydrocarbons. The fatty acid content means that it isn’t soluble in water. It can only be dissolved in alcohol or oil. This makes it a good coating for protecting leather from water and dirt. The Romans and Egyptians used wax for embalming and sealing wooden ships, jugs and figurines.
How is propolis used?
The natural product has a wide range of applications, alongside being used to protect wood and leather. Beeswax has been used to produce candles for centuries. It’s also used in the food industry to coat gummy bears and apples. It’s often used in the cosmetic industry as a base for cream, soap, lipstick and eyeliner. The natural product is known to be gentle on the skin, so it can be used by those with sensitive skin without causing redness or irritation.
How to use beeswax to look after leather
Propolis is used to look after leather by covering up small scratches. When applied to leather, it causes the surface to darken and hides any marks. Waxes and resins are restorative, they close up pores and minimise the appearance of scars. So they can be used to protect the outer surface of smooth leather from water. Beeswax softens and protects the leather. This helps the leather maintain its breathability but strengthens it at the same time.
Application: Clean the leather and apply a little beeswax to the leather once it’s dry.
Sources (accessed 25th August 2022)