ALL ABOUT BEESWAX
Beeswax is a bee product, and at the same time, in beekeeping, it is a reproductive material. It is a product of young bees that secrete it from their wax-producing glands. Conditions for secreting wax are warm weather and a good intake of both nectar and pollen. As a reproductive material, wax is used in beekeeping in the form of a honeycomb base. In the world market, the demand for beeswax is higher than its supply. Chemical composition and properties of wax: beeswax comprises of fatty acids, esters, higher alcohols and carbohydrates with a higher molecular weight. The specific weight of wax at the 15°C temperature is 0.956-0.969. Melting point is between 56°C and 64°C.
The odor of wax is influenced by the kind of honey from the plants it was gathered from. When melted, it smells stronger than solid wax. The odor weakens after staying for a long a time. All of its color variations are yellow. Color depends on the contents, on propolis and pollen in wax. Natural color is spoiled by melting. After staying for a certain period of time, pieces of wax become covered with a mist, and appear to be sprinkled with a gray dust. It appears sooner if the wax stays in a humid place. Wax should exhibit a granular appearance along the fracture line, resembling roasted pumpkin. When frequently melted this appearance disappears.
In the market, there is also fake beeswax. Wax is mostly faked using paraffin, ceresin, stearin, colophonium, tallow and vegetable waxes. If beeswax and the suspicious wax are soaked in water, in 1 or 2 days a thin film will form on the first one. The fake wax will not form a film, not even if the slightest amount of paraffin were present. Fake wax differs significantly from natural wax regarding the fracture line: it does not have a granular appearance, and the fracture is rather irregular. When exposed to sunlight, tiny grains can be seen shining along the fracture line of the fake wax, with naked eye.
When identification by comparison cannot be performed, fake wax should be submitted to lab analysis. Such analysis determines the acid number, saponification, the ester number and the ratio.
Use of beeswax
The use of beeswax is multiple. It is applied in the leather, wood, textile and perfume industry and in art. There are white and yellow waxes used in different areas of industry. It is also applied in dental medicine, painting and conservation. The largest quantities are processed into honeycomb foundation sheets. The wax is not wasted. Every year, by remelting old honeycombs, it gets back in the market. In honeycomb foundation sheet production the best quality wax is used, containing no impurities. Honeycomb foundation sheets are produced using rollers in special workshops, which must possess a device for wax disinfection. Large quantities of wax are used in candle production. In industry, white wax (Cera flava) and yellow wax (Cera alba) are used. The natural way of bleaching wax is by exposing it to the sun, and chemically by special devices. White wax is used in cosmetics and pharmacy. Yellow wax is used in chemical industry in the production of different pastes, and it was used in textile, leather and food industry.
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