Beeswax is a unique substance that has many uses in our day-to-day lives. Whether you want to free up a stuck zipper or make a lip balm, beeswax is what you need. It is even used to waterproof items and polish furniture! The many uses of beeswax often lead to one simple question ‘is beeswax an emulsifier?’. After all, we find it it many lotions and balms, so it must be right? If you want the definitive answer to whether beeswax is in fact an emulsifier, then please read on 🙂
What is an emulsifier?
An emulsifier is a molecule that helps two liquids that don’t usually mix well, like oil and water, to come together and form a stable mixture (otherwise known as an emulsion). Emulsifiers are often used in foods to create creamy textures or to keep ingredients like salad dressing from separating. Emulsifiers are also used in the beauty product industry, as a good emulsion is often needed when producing creams and lotions.
What is beeswax?
Beeswax is a natural wax that is secreted by honey bees. It is used by the bees to build their honeycomb cells and to cap opened honey combs.
Is beeswax an emulsifier?
Although beeswax is used in a lot of beauty products, it is not technically an emulsifier on its own. It doesn’t have the chemical composition that allows it to change the natural affinity of an oil-based substance from one that repels water (hydrophobic) to one which attracts it (hydrophillic). Simply put, oil and water emulsions need a bridge to help them mix well. This is not something beeswax can do alone. Beeswax is more of a thickener or hardener, rather than an out-and-out emulsifier.
Why Do people think beeswax is an emulsifier?
All over the internet, you will find people saying that beeswax is an emulsifier. They have made many balms and creams using beeswax and think that this is the emulsifying agent. However, these balms and creams usually have another ingredient (such as borax) that will do the emulsification, not the beeswax.
If you attempted to make an emulsion using only beeswax, you might get something close by making sure that it is a low water mixture. However, you are still prone to splitting and undesirable textures in a lot of cases.
Can I use beeswax instead of emulsifying wax?
A lot of people like the idea of using a natural wax like beeswax instead of emulsifying wax. However, you can only replace an emulsifying wax with another emulsifier. As stated above, beeswax does not have the ability to turn oil into a water loving substance to mix together, and is therefore not an emulsifier. You cannot use beeswax instead of emulsifying wax. Borax is often used to make emulsions using beeswax.