When you finally reach the end of your woodwork masterpiece, it is only expected that you would want to give it as best a finish as possible to highlight all the best aspects of your work.
For this role many find beeswax an attractive option for many reasons, unfortunately there are many disadvantages to this option that many people choose to overlook.
Some of these disadvantages include that it is one of the pricier options compared to cheaper finishes as well as it being relatively difficult to apply, especially if you have not had much practice.
Beeswax is also far more sensitive to heat damage as well as needing a lot more maintenance than other finishing options, like for example, polyurethane, as well as potentially staining or appearing yellow on the surfaces it is used on.
If you are interested in this finishing option, and you want to know all the advantages that will motivate you to choose this option, as well as the disadvantages you will inevitably have to overcome, this is the article you need to read.
What Is A Beeswax Finish In Woodwork?
Beeswax when used as a wood polish, is a lot safer than many of the other options.
While beeswax is completely natural and can accentuate the look of your work, other lacquers and varnishes are toxic because of how unnatural and synthetic they are.
This is moreso worth considering if you live in a household with pets as you can often have little control of what they ingest.
As well as being a safe option, it is also backed up historically. People have been using beeswax as a polish since they have found out about beehives.
Being a natural finish which bears no danger to the people who use it has always attracted people to this option.
When considering beeswax as an option, always remember that it is one of the few completely natural and non-toxic options.
A lot of primary wood finish or wood polish is actually a combination of oil and beeswax.
The oils that are usually used for this process include; coconut oil, jojoba oil, walnut oil, tung oil, and even olive oil.
These oils are mixed with beeswax to make a completely natural wood finish.
This combination of components will get baked in either an oven or the sun until it turns into something buttery and malleable that can simply be lathered onto wooden furniture.
This all sounds great, so what are the reasons why so many people choose against using it?
The Pros And Cons Of Using Beeswax As A Wood Finish
On top of the reasons that were mentioned prior to this section, people choose to use beeswax as it has an above average drying time and is good at protecting your wooden furniture from dirt, water damage, and food stains.
Once dried it has a great distinct shine that also makes it an incredibly attractive option, but there is also a litany of disadvantages that counteract these positive points.
The Disadvantages Of Using Beeswax As A Wood Finish
So what are these cons that push people away from using this as a wood finish?
Beeswax Wood Finish Can Be Hard To Remove
Actually applying the beeswax to furniture is not too hard and pretty simple. Removing it is another story.
If you are planning to keep the wax on the furniture this will not be a massive problem, but if you change your mind it can be an issue.
If you are not sure if you will like the look, beeswax probably is not the best choice.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is Not A Good Choice For All Variations Of Flooring
There are a lot of surfaces which beeswax will not work on and this includes a lot of different floor types.
You will not want to use it on an unsealed surface like raw wood or a wood floor covered in vinyl or linoleum or any other type of plastic sealing.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is Not As Long Lasting As Similar Options Like Polyurethane
Being another very popular choice, something that helps polyurethane stand out is being significantly more durable and will not fade due to its strong pigmentation.
It is generally considered that you should avoid using wax on heavily used objects like cabinets or tables as it needs more maintenance than polyurethane and will need regular top-ups.
Beeswax Wood Finish Can Stain The Surface Of The Wood
Wax penetrates deep into the wood and because of this is very likely to cause staining, especially if it contains a stronger pigment.
Also, if you do not apply the wax well it is very likely that white spots can appear once it has dried.
While sometimes staining is preferable and a desired aspect of waxing but if you are looking for this enhancement, there are many better ways of achieving the desired effect without using beeswax.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is Quite A High Maintenance Option
As previously referenced, beeswax is very likely to require re-application, especially if it is used on commonly used furniture.
Especially if you want it to retain its naturally attractive look. This is not seen as a massive problem especially by people who do not mind regularly re-applying.
But if this constant chore sounds like something you want to avoid, other choices do not have this as a problem you need to take into consideration.
But if you use beeswax on a less commonly used surface you are much less likely to run into these issues.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is Very Vulnerable To Being Damaged In Heat
Unlike a lot of other wood finishing options, wax can be very vulnerable to heat damage after it has been applied.
For example, if your ambient temperature is anywhere above 70 Fahrenheit you could see your max begin to drip and even melt.
While this is not common for most people, it can become an issue if the furniture is placed near a heater or a fireplace which could very quickly erase all your hard work.
Applying Beeswax Wood Finish Requires A lot Of Physical Effort
A lot of ways of applying a finish to woodwork do not require too much effort, but with beeswax the process of consistently using a rag or sponge to apply this finish can get tiring very quickly.
Beeswax Wood Finish Yellows Over Time
This is one of the biggest turn-offs for using beeswax and discourages a lot of people from using it.
It is not a massively noticeable difference, but if you live in the space, it will definitely become obvious over an extended period of time, which is not a factor you have to consider with more pigmented options.
However, you can avoid this issue if you finish your wax with tung oil or something similar.
The Advantages Of Using Beeswax As A Wood Finish
So with all these disadvantages, it can be hard to wonder why people even both using this finish at all, so why do people use beeswax as a finish.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is Relatively Easy To Apply
In spite of needing a fair amount of physical effort, the process of application does not require as much time or planning as some of the other finishing options.
This is partly helped by the shorter drying time making the process a lot less time-consuming.
This also makes mistakes a lot easier and quicker to notice as well as making them easy to fix.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is An Environmentally Friendly Option
As previously referenced, beeswax is naturally occurring and is therefore one of the least environmentally damaging options especially comparing it to commonly used finishes like polyurethane that are largely synthetic.
Using a wax finish means that you only need natural ingredients that are mixed together to make a paste product that is applied straight onto your wood's surface.
This reduces the amount of indoor pollution that you could be producing with your decor and help promote a greener lifestyle.
This also means the varnish will have a more natural look than synthetic options.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is An Attractive Option
This has been referred to a couple of times already, but beeswax is a very attractive choice and will help keep your woodwork looking fresh for significantly longer and can improve its lifespan by decades.
This is useful for protecting the aesthetic of your furniture from damage from pets and kids as well as waterproofing it!
Beeswax Wood Finish Is An Economical Option
Beeswax is one of the few wood finishing products that will not require any chemical additives and has a durable coat.
Beeswax Wood Finish Acts As A Wood Lubricant
Having a beeswax coating also makes it, so your moving pieces of wood will move a lot smoother acting as a natural lubricant.
Beeswax coating Nails And Screws
By coating your wood, beeswax makes it so when using nails or screws on your wood it is much less likely to splinter and ruin the wood when being used.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is Water-Resistant
This wax finishing option is completely water-resistant and will stop any water damage on furniture which it is properly applied onto.
Beeswax Wood Finish Can Be Easily Removed With A Solvent
While this is not the easiest waxing option to remove, it can be done without too much effort using a solvent saving you the effort of sanding or scraping.
Commonly used solvents are usually, mineral spirits, paint thinner or turpentine.
Beeswax Wood Finish Is Non-Toxic
As previously mentioned, beeswax is non-toxic, so if it is accidentally ingested, it will not cause too much damage.
This is why this finish is often used on utensils or cutting boards. It is even used on kids toys which are famous for accidentally ending up in kids mouths.
Why Do We Wax Woodwork?
Now you have seen all the pros and cons for using beeswax, you may be wondering why we even wax wood and why it is worth all this thought.
Wax is primarily used to protect your wooden surfaces from damage that is usually caused by excessive contact with moisture.
It also helps preserve the look of the wood as well as making sure the woodwork will last as long as possible.
The wax creates a lovely sheen that makes products look a lot more attractive and is worth the effort to add a layer of depth to any wood products you have made or bought.
Wax is also commonly used to lubricate and seal wood to make it more functional.
Popular Wood Finishing Waxes
Being the topic of this article, beeswax is one of the most popular choices for sealing woodwork.
It is formed from melting the wax made by honeybees and is usually mixed with an alcoholic substance to accentuate its qualities as a wood finish.
While sometimes used without pigment, it sometimes has some added to add a different effect.
This wax is naturally harder than beeswax and has a distinctive brown-yellow color.
The wax is made from leaves of the Carnauba palm tree and is processed using chemicals which is what makes it a more expensive option than beeswax.
Mineral wax is usually made by combining carbon and petroleum which are both impure but a lot cheaper than the previous two options.
This wax can be used by itself but it more commonly used as a base for further finishing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Beeswax Attract Dust?
Unfortunately, yes beeswax does attract dust and will require more common polishing for it to retain a good look.
Dirt may also get embedded in the surface more commonly than it would on other options. While beeswax looks great it does require a lot of cleaning and maintenance.
Does Beeswax Work Well As A Wood Finish?
Yes, it is one of the best natural choices and covers a lot of issues with woodwork, but make sure to acknowledge the disadvantages before choosing to use it.
It does contain antifungal and anti-mold properties that a lot of other choices do not.
Is Beeswax Water-Resistant?
Yes but it does require plenty of maintenance to keep this protection.
What Is The Difference Between Beeswax And Finishing Wax?
Finishing wax is often used over beeswax as it can leave surfaces soft if it is not covered, that is why finishing wax is used to protect the beeswax and harden surfaces.
How Long Does Beeswax Last As A Wood Finish?
Around 3 to 5 years which is a bit below average but can be topped up with re-application and frequent correct cleaning.
Does A Beeswax Finish Make Wood Slippery?
Yes because it also acts as a lubricant, if you want to remove this effect use a correct finishing coat.
Should You Wax Or Varnish Wood?
It depends on the final aesthetic and the purpose of what the furniture is used on.
Wax can look better but needs more maintenance, while varnish requires less effort and covers mistakes well.
So that is everything you need to know on whether you should use beeswax for wood finishing or not.
Are you going to use it in spite of the disadvantages, or are you going to ignore the advantages and go with one of the many other options?