7 Vegan-Friendly Alternatives To Beeswax

While some vegans accept ethically sourced, locally produced bee-derived products, others believe that bee products are animal-derived and thus not vegan.

Whatever your stance on bee products, keep in mind that the harvesting of bee products may often involve rough handling of the bees, and it may be difficult to know which bee products are truly ethically sourced.

Beeswax is widely used in manufacturing, particularly in the cosmetics industry as a thickener, emulsifier, and stiffening agent. While there are vegan alternatives to beeswax, they may not work equally well in every product.

In this article, we go over 7 different vegan alternatives to beeswax and briefly explain what they’re used to make.

7 Vegan Alternatives To Beeswax

Soy Wax

soy wax

Soy wax is a vegetable wax derived from soybean oil. The beans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes after being harvested. After that, the oil is extracted from the flakes and hydrogenated.

Some of the fatty acids in the oil are converted from unsaturated to saturated during the hydrogenation process, a procedure that lowers the melting point of the oil, causing it to solidify at room temperature.

Candle makers use soy wax in a variety of ways. It can be used straight (as portrayed in the image above), blended with other natural oils, or mixed with paraffin to make parasoy wax.

The advantage of soy wax over alternatives such as paraffin wax is that the candle burns cleaner, emitting only a small amount of soot as it burns. Candles made from soy wax are also non-toxic, which means they don’t emit toxins into the air when they burn. Soy candles can be considered eco-friendly. 

With that being said, soy wax can also be used to make other products, including lip balms and lotions, so it’s also super versatile.

Sunflower Wax

Sunflower wax is created by hydrogenating sunflower oil, which is extracted from the plant’s seeds. 

It has a good balance of softness and hardness as well as excellent oil binding properties, being able to produce very stable cosmetics formulations with a long-lasting shine and a very elegant skin feel.

This wax improves the viscosity of oleogels, pigment pastes, and W/O emulsions without exhibiting crystallinity like carnauba wax. In other words, it’s ideal for lip products, body butters, and other cosmetics.

Rice Bran Wax

Rice bran wax is made from rice bran oil, which is extracted or pressed after the husks of rice have been separated from the grains. The oil is then dewaxed, yielding dewaxed oil and crude wax, both of which can be refined further to yield rice bran oil and rice bran wax.

The wax is a pale yellow, hard, and has a melting point of 79-85 degrees Celsius (174-185 degrees Fahrenheit), which is higher than beeswax, allowing you to use less in your formulations. It comes in pellets, beads, and powders, and can be used in an assortment of different products.

However, it’s most commonly used in body butters, lip balms, and lipsticks because it’s non-sticky and prevents liquids from leaking out of gels in the formula.

Candelilla Wax

candelilla wax

Candelilla wax is a natural vegetable wax made from the leaves of the Candelilla plant, which grows in semi-arid areas of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

It works as a thickening and hardening agent, a plasticizer, a viscosity modifier, an emollient, and a skin-protective barrier agent that keeps moisture in the skin. Stretch marks, as well as signs of aging such as wrinkles and age spots, are said to be reduced by using Candelilla wax.

Because of its firming effect, it can be used to set and solidify formulas for a variety of makeup products, including stick foundations, eye shadow, and lip products, producing a balanced texture. This quality also makes it a beneficial addition to candle formulas. 

Candelilla wax and beeswax share many similarities, namely their scents, melting points, and other qualities that make them interchangeable. Needless to say, it’s a great alternative to beeswax. 

Bayberry Wax

Bayberry bushes can be found all over the world, but they thrive in sandy and marshy areas near the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lake beaches in the Northeast.

Due to its manufacturing process, bayberry wax is the only wax that costs more than beeswax.

It’s a green vegetable wax with a melting point of approximately 47° C (116° F) that’s made by boiling the berries of the wax myrtle shrub and then skimming the filmy substance off the top.

Bayberry wax is extremely hard, making it difficult to keep a flame going without the help of a softer wax, so it’s common for it to be blended with beeswax. 

An option for vegans would be to blend it with a vegan-friendly wax such as candelilla wax or soy wax. 

Paraffin Wax

A byproduct of the oil purification process is paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is derived from crude oil through a dewaxing process, and it is then processed further for use in products. You’re able to find it in a variety of commercial products, including candles, wax paper, polishes, cosmetics, and electrical insulators.

However, paraffin wax has become less popular in recent years due to claims that it emits toxic fumes when burned; in fact, a study conducted by South Carolina State University discovered that burning paraffin wax candles emit harmful fumes (toluene and benzene), which have been linked to asthma and lung cancer.

That said, the same study also claims that health problems would take years to manifest. Many others, including the European Candle Association and the National Candle Association, have spoken out in support of paraffin wax. Both organizations cite a 2007 industry-funded study that found no benzene in any of the candles waxes tested, including paraffin wax, soy wax, and beeswax.

Finally, even though paraffin wax is vegan and its effects on human health are debatable, it is still made from nonrenewable fossil fuels, which should deter environmentally conscious consumers.

Carnauba Wax

carnauba wax

Carnauba wax is derived from the fronds of the carnauba tree, which grows in Brazil. The leaves of the trees are dried and beaten to release the wax, which is then bleached or refined for a variety of uses. Because of its origin, carnauba wax is classified as a natural plant wax.

Carnauba wax has a very high melting point of 82-86 °C (180-187 °F). It is harder than concrete and nearly insoluble in water and ethanol. It is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and quite shiny.

Its inherent qualities lead to a wide range of applications, including use in food, cosmetics, automobile and furniture wax, molds for semiconductor devices, and as a coating for dental floss.

Every day we use products that contain carnauba wax, even without having no idea what the ingredient is or where it comes from. It is one of those extremely useful natural chemicals and renewable resources that does not have a synthetic equivalent.

What is Beeswax?

Honey bees produce two products: honey and beeswax. Bees rely on honey as their primary food source and as protection against both natural pathogens and pesticides. They keep their precious cargo in beeswax. This naturally occurring hive construction material is secreted by four pairs of glands in the lower abdominal segments of young female worker bees.

Young bees band together to warm the hive to around 95 degrees F (34 degrees C), at which point they start excreting clear wax scales that solidify when exposed to air. The wax is chewed by the bees, who mix it with pollen and propolis to make the familiar yellow beeswax. They then shape it into hexagonal cells with their mandibles, a masterpiece that is otherwise known as honeycomb or comb wax.

Bees use the wax to store their winter food supply (honey and pollen) as well as their brood (larvae and pupae). Each cell is sealed with a beeswax cap once it has been filled with honey.

Why Isn’t Beeswax Vegan?

Most vegans avoid consuming or using animal-derived products, and beeswax is unquestionably derived from small animals. They also avoid beeswax in every product for the same reasons they avoid honey.

The argument is that beeswax is a form of animal exploitation because it is a byproduct of honey. Like other animals that vegans avoid exploiting, bees are just a smaller version.

Studies show that commercial migration causes oxidative stress and shortens their lifespans. Moreover, hives containing tens of thousands of bees can be culled (exterminated) if they are infected with disease or if keeping the hives alive during the winter is too costly.

These cruel practices are not seen with good eyes in the vegan community, and therefore you’ll have vegans that don’t consume honey or beeswax. 

Conclusion

Beeswax is widely used in manufacturing, particularly in the cosmetics industry.

While some vegans may accept ethically sourced, locally produced bee-derived products. Most vegans believe that bee products are animal-derived and thus not vegan.

It’s possible to find vegan alternatives to beeswax, but they may not work equally well in every product. Therefore, depending on the qualities of a given alternative, it should be used accordingly. 

Fortunately, there are many alternatives, and it shouldn’t be that difficult to substitute to create a lip balm or lotion, would you ever want to do it at home. 

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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