February 19, 2017

Book Review: The Beeswax Workshop

I was recently had the good fortune of getting my hands on a review copy of a really wonderful book,

The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More by Chris Dalziel. 

Some of you may be familiar with Chris from her Joybilee Farm website and blog, where she focuses on herbs and natural remedies, gardening, food preservation, and handcrafting. Because of my love for bees and all things natural, The Beeswax Workshop is of special interest to me. And I have to say that it has the most comprehensive selection of beeswax recipes I've seen yet. Most books about beeswax feature candle making or cosmetics. This book has all that and so much more: things like beeswax soap, insect repellent, cast iron seasoning, granite countertop polish, cheese wax, sandwich wraps, tool handle preservative, bowstring wax, bullet lube, violin rosin, and beeswax crayons.

Chapter 1, "Miraculous Beeswax," gives the reader an appreciation for how precious beeswax is. It explains how bees make it and why it is endangered. Also discussed are beeswax basics, working with beeswax (including cleaning it up!), plus the recipes and equipment. I also like the the two charts included: "Melting Points of Waxes and Resins," and the conversion table for working with the recipes.

Next come eight chapters full of beeswax recipes: candlemaking, personal care, soap and hair care, in the Apothecary, home comforts, in the garden, for sport and leisure, and the arts.

Chapter 10 is an ingredient guide, discussing the all the other components in the various recipes: various waxes, vegetable butters, carrier oils, essential oils, herbs. resins, gums, and solvents. "Resources" helps you source the various materials, and gives you suggestions for further reading and research. Volume, weight, and temperature conversion charts make this a ready resource no matter where you live in the world.

I received a review copy, but no, I'm not in any other way connected to the book or it's sale. I can honestly say that it's a wonderful addition to my homestead library. It's available here.


Rain said...

I sound like such a nube asking this, but I know you have some bee hives Leigh. Does this produce the necessary ingredients to make all of these things? I've seen the honeycomb style candles, but I'm very intrigued especially by the cheese wax. One day I plan to start some serious cheesemaking and although my future plans are very lofty, I've considered bees as well. During my next Amazon shopping spree I'm buying your Critter Tales book on paperback, I see that you include honeybees in the list of critters. I'm excited to read about all of them! :)

Leigh said...

Well, I had bees! Lost the last of them last summer. :( I do have some wax, though. :)

There are different philosophies of beekeeping, and Critter Tales details the kind of beekeeping I chose and why. It produces a better wax harvest than the conventional method of beekeeping, which tends to reuse the combs over and over. (Bees prefer new comb for egg laying, however.)

The recipes in Chris's book call for some other natural ingredients as well, depending on the recipe. I've tried straight beeswax for cheese, but found it too brittle; it needs additional ingredients to make it pliable enough for cheese. Her recipe calls for tallow (rendered beef fat) to make it easier to work with and pine resin, which is a natural antimicrobial. Commercial cheese wax uses paraffin, which is a petroleum product, so I'd definitely recommend this recipe.

Goatldi said...

Now this is interesting to me. I have made a considerable amount of salves with bees wax and I am most interested in making candles. Lucky for us we can't master or even try it all so we never run out of avenues for a new adventure! I will look into this book and visit her blog right now. Thanks Leigh.

Leigh said...

I so agree about having interesting things to do! I'm looking into sourcing a couple of the other common ingredients she uses, so I can have them on hand to make some of these things regularly.

I was shocked, however, to find out that the price I pay for local beeswax had skyrocketed. I used to pay about $4 a pound; it's gone up to $40! This is because he know "triple filters" it. It didn't look any different from the stuff I used to get from him (that worked great). I told them he'd priced himself out of my financial range, so I'm looking for a new source for beeswax too.

Rain said...

Oh, sorry to have brought that up, I guess I missed the post about losing your bees! Thanks for answering my question! I have so many books on my list to buy. A little at a time and I'll build up a good reference library :)

Sam I Am...... said...

I'm scared of bees...no reason but I am and so I will never raise them but I love them and what they do for our planet and the wonderful honey in the comb that I used to have when I was young. There's so many more benefits so even though I steer clear of them....I can admire from a distance! Thanks you for a great review! I 'pinned' for the future.

Unknown said...

There was a discussion last week concerning transferring Bees from a Langstroth Nuc to a Warre Hive on the Warre Group. One method is to simply do a shook swarm into the Warre Hive and throw the brood and Langstroth frames away. The other method would be to set the Langstroth frames on end in the bottom two boxes of a Warre Hive and set a third box over the on end Langstroth frames. The queen does not like sideways or upside down comb and will move up into the top box and the capped brood of the Nuc can still finish developing. Both methods are done just before the major honeyflow. I'm thinking the sideways frames would need to be pulled as soon as the brood hatches.

The second method is a variation of A Flipped Hive Transfer described on page 164 of the recently released "Keeping Bees in Horizontal Hives" by Georges de Layens. Layens describes keeping bees in Skeps, horizontal, and vertical hives so there is plenty of good information for everyone. I'm thinking this is the Second best book on beekeeping right after "Keeping Bees With a Smile" by Fedor Lazutin.


Goatldi said...

ouch! Do you have a local or semi local food co-op or natural foods store. Or what we back in the day called health food store oh my how it has changed, OT ;-)

Back to subject at hand I found my bees wax there in the bulk herb section and it was reasonable although it has been so long I can't remember how much. I will keep an eye out.

Leigh said...

That was at the bulk food store! They are also the area beekeeping supply and honey store. There is a co-op in the area I joined several years ago, but only stayed a year. It is members only and discount is based on the number of hours worked each week. Between that and the travel time, I didn't think the discount they gave me was worth it, especially when I was told it was going to be one thing but turned out to be less in reality.

It's always been my intention to raise my own beeswax! The past two years have been tough though, so without a different source of bees (the same place where I bought the beeswax) I'm beeless for this year.

Leigh said...

I wouldn't keep any critter I'm afraid of, and there's no shame in that. This is where you need to work out some sort of barter with a beekeeper!

Leigh said...

I need to go take a look at that discussion! Between my discouragement and too many other things pushing for my time and attention, I've done very little toward reestablishing my hives this year. I know if you fall off the horse you're supposed to get right back on. Swarm season for us is May/June, so maybe I'd better get prepared. I definitely need to get those books!