Beeswax has been used to treat and protect wood as long as there have been wood products. Beeswax protects just about anything from wood to cloth from the destructive effects of moisture. Alone it provides a strong, water-resistant coating for any wood product, especially those used in kitchens. Beeswax is a natural, food-safe material. It can be combined with other edible or inedible oils to provide other treatment qualities.
Beeswax was regarded as a sacred material by the Catholic Church. The church once required beeswax to be used in all candles made for the church. According to pioneerthinking.com, Homer, a Greek poet, wrote about beeswax being used as a wood treatment in the middle ages. It also has been used as money. Egyptians used beeswax to make death masks, embalm bodies and form statues of gods to place in graves.
Beeswax is a completely natural substance. It is the end product of the collection of pollen by the worker bees in a hive. Beeswax is extremely easy to use. Blocks of beeswax can simply be shaved into a double boiler and used by itself as a wood treatment. Because beeswax is a thick material, it fills up the natural pores in wood. This characteristic blocks bacteria and small particles from remaining in wood blocks. Water cannot remain in or on the board, so bacteria cannot survive.
Beeswax as a treatment
Beeswax can be used alone, without any other oils. Beeswax is usually purchased in blocks of various shapes. When it is used alone, the wax is melted slowly in a double boiler over low heat. The beeswax is shaved off the block in very thin slivers to make melting easier. The warm beeswax is then applied to the wood to be treated in small amounts with a soft cloth. When it is used alone, it treats wood as a topcoat only. It does not soak into the wood.
Use of beeswax with inedible oils
Combinations of beeswax with other inedible oils are used to treat wood with a beeswax topcoat while the oil soaks into the wood. This mixture is used on furniture or other objects that will not be used with food. Materials commonly used with beeswax to treat wood are turpentine and linseed oil. According to esoulshine.com, those three materials are mixed with melted beeswax in equal amounts. The resulting wood treatment is then stored in jars for later use.
Beeswax food-safe treatment
Many wooden kitchen utensils are treated with a combination of beeswax and food-safe oils. Two of the most common oils are walnut oil and mineral oil. Walnut oil is the only plant-based oil that will not become rancid. According to woodweb.com, one part mineral oil is mixed with five to six parts beeswax. Canaryreport.org gives a formula for recipes with walnut oil as two parts beeswax to one part walnut oil.
Applying any beeswax wood treatment
All beeswax wood treatments are applied in small amounts. A soft cotton cloth is usually used, because it does not leave lint. A very small amount of the wood treatment is picked up on the cloth. The beeswax wood treatment is then rubbed into the wood until all of it has been rubbed in. This procedure is continued until the piece is entirely covered. The treatment will dry into a hard coat. A second coat may be applied when the first is dry.