So the big question, why would I spend more money on beeswax when I can get 100 tealights for a few bucks at IKEA? Simple answer: paraffin.
Paraffin vs Beeswax in simple definition:
What exactly is paraffin and where does it come from?
Well, it all starts with slack wax, which is “a mixture of oil and wax, a byproduct from the refining of lubricating oil.”
First, the wax has to be separated from the oil. The most common way to do it is to heat the slack wax (don’t get confused here, it’s not wax yet, more a sludge of oily wax) then mix it with one or more solvents, like a ketone (a catch-all term for an organic compound, the simplest being acetone), and cool to cause crystallization. As it cools, the wax crystallizes and leaves oil in solution. It’s then filtered into two streams, solid and liquid. The solid is wax plus some solvent and the liquid is oil and solvent. After the solvent is somewhat removed by distillation you’re left with what’s called “product wax” and “foots oil.” The lower the percentage of oil in the wax, the more “refined” is the labelling. From here, they can process it further to remove or add colour and odors. Blending the wax with other batches, byproducts or different types of wax will alter the properties as well.
Ready to learn how beeswax is made?
Each bee consumes about 6-10 lbs of honey for each pound of wax made. The wax is secreted from small glands on the underside of it’s little bee belly. It uses the wax to build comb that it uses for broods, honey, nectar, housing, all sorts of amazing things! So the wax is in these beautiful comb formations, it’s taken from the hive in quantities that allow the bee to keep producing food and brood, then processed. Don’t squirm at the word “process” in this case! The comb is crushed, honey drained out, then the comb is heated and strained to remove impurities (normally little bee bits from the daily grind) and the rest is pressed to get all that waxy goodness out. It is poured into a mold and set.