Since we are a small operation with just a few hives, we purchase wax from other beekeepers to provide most of the wax that we use for our 100% pure beeswax candles. For a while, I was trying to use the same color wax which is a light brown that reminds me of maple sugar candy. But that color is not always available, so the other option that I’ve been using is a more yellowish color. The color of the beeswax depends on several things. Wax is secreted by the bees from glands on their abdomens. When it comes out of their bodies, it is usually pure white.
The bees make the combs in the hive from this white wax. In the brood area where the baby bees are reared, the white comb quickly darkens as the larvae spin their cocoons in the cells, pollen is stored in the cells and lots of dirty little bee feet trample over the combs. This comb is not good for candles because it has lots of impurities that are hard if not impossible to filter out.
During the honey flow in the late spring, the bees will build white comb quickly in the honey area of the hive, fill it with nectar and once it has been dried enough to form honey, put a white cap of wax to seal the cells. If the beekeeper takes the honey soon after it was capped, the combs are still fairly white. Some beekeepers cut off the white cappings wax to get the honey out and then process the cappings wax. Others like me, take the entire comb and crush it up and strain out the honey and process all the wax – cappings and combs – which may have some pollen and bee parts.
Most of the wax and candles that you find are yellow – that seems to be the color that people think beeswax should be. Sometimes when I process wax, it comes out yellowish – presumably from pollen. White wax is rarer – it takes a lot more effort to process white wax and not mix with other wax that has impurities – thus it is more expensive. You can find cheaper white wax to purchase at candle supply stores as pastilles, but it has usually been heavily processed, maybe bleached and doesn’t really smell like the honey scented wax straight from the hive.
This year, I had one batch of wax that I processed that came out pure white. It was freshly capped honey comb and had few impurities. None of the other honey comb I processed this year came out that white, but still I got some nice ivory comb. We use this purest wax in our lip balms and lotions, but since it is precious, we don’t make too many candles from it. I think the details in some of our candles get lost in the whiteness when viewed from a distance, like the carved egg above. However, other candles just scream out to be white, like the lotus below.
Do you have a favorite color for your natural wax candles? Would you pay more for a white wax candle? Inquiring minds want to know!