Beeswax (without borax)

MakingSkincareMakingSkincare Member, Professional formulator
edited March 2014 in Formulating
Many crafters see recipes on the net/in books stating beeswax, on it's own, without borax is an effective emulsifier, however, chemists and microbiologists state that it is not. (The acid in the beeswax needs to react with the borax to create an emulsifier). It would not pass a stability test (eg freeze/thaw cycles).  
Swiftcraftymonkey tried to deal with this misconception in some of her posts eg -

Now that there are so many "natural" options for stable o/w emulsifiers, this lessens the need for the old fashioned w/o beeswax/borax emulsion.  I'm wondering what chemists experience of this.
Jane Barber (free online course)
Formulation discussion forum (18,000 members):


  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    I cannot think a beeswax-borax w/o emulsion would be stable without the borax.  Those who claim stability likley had a very high level of lipid components and likely at least one other low HLB surfacatant without knowing it.  I have a lot of experience with these formulas and its intriguing to think of them as a "nouveaux" natrural emulsifier, which of course they are. There is no other w/o emulsifier as natural as this, by the way. The glucosides are chemically modified. Beeswax is also useful as a stabilizer in w/o emulsions using other emulsifiers, which can also use microcrystalline wax for the same purpose.  Beeswax is not cheap these days, like it was only ten years ago, but you may be onto something here in exploring its use.  White beeswax with an Acid Value of 17 - 24 works best as I recall.
  • Hi,
    Please forgive my ignorance, I am not educated, I'm just an person that like to make my own cosmetics. I have seen allot of different recipes online, and yet to complete a good formula for myself. I was wondering tho, what are your experiences with using lecithin as an emulsyfier?
  • Gazelle,

    I'm not one of the scientists here but in a very early formula I made I used lecithin as the emulsifier. I used a formula from a book I had bought. Last one I made from that book. I did not care for the end result. The skin feel was unpleasant to me. Think mayonnaise. I like including lecithin now but not as an emulsifier but as an emollient. You could use it as part of an emulsification system. It's a low HLB emulsifier so you need to pair it with a high HLB emulsifier. I haven't tackled creating my own emulsifiers using the HLB system yet. I'm having great success with several complete emulsifiers so haven't had that need.

    I really do like lecithin as an emollient, though. It's high in fatty acids, phospholipids, and Vit B. Be careful, it smells unpleasant if it's heated too high for too long. I add it at the end of my oil phase.

    Hope that helps a little.
  • Jane,

    Sorry to derail your question with my lecithin response. If you're at all interested in the perspective of a non-chemist, I'd say there are some homecrafters who will never budge from their stance of "all natural" ingredients. Just take a look at their blogs.

    Last night I made a sample batch using ECOmulse. Turned out perfect (don't love the skin feel). It's approved for organic products, as I'm sure you know. But some will read the INCI listing and go nuts. I came across one blogger who was even trashing fatty acids and fatty alcohols. Of course, she was also selling a "refreshing toner". It was nothing but rosemary hydrosol without any preservative. I believe the price was around $30.00 for a few ounces. Bottom line is that some are never going to open their minds and learn. My first experience was from a similarly minded instructor. When my home emulsions consistently failed I sought answers and quickly moved away from the beeswax&borax set.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Sigh...I see this a lot too.

    Here's the problem - given enough mixing energy, you can turn any mixture of oil and water into an emulsion, with or without emulsifiers. Without emulsifiers, that emulsion will fall apart. The instability may show up within hours, days or sometimes even weeks.

    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    edited February 2019
    Can potassuim-beewax used as an emulsifier or even TEA-beewax in place of borax-beewax ?
    @Perry @Dirtnap1 @Chemist77 @ngarayeva001 @Doreen @chemicalmatt @pepe @MarkBroussard
  • I see a lot of it. Some people even claim that stearic acid is an emulsifier. DIY suppliers contribute to this misconception by placing stearic acid and cetearyl alcohol in ‘emulsifiers’ section (and tocopherol to preservatives).
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    edited February 2019
    @ngarayeva001 if we talk according to science stearic acid is acid cetearyl alcohol is alcohol however potassuim-beewax is a kind of soap where free acid of wax react in basic solution to give soap so by science soap have the capacity of emusifier( with having both hydrophil part and lipophil part)
    So to be more precise in my question is potassuim-beewax a good emulsifier cause actually it is for sure emulsifier why it can be bad ? may the end ph of potassuim-beewax ( verry soft soap) can be slightly basic .(i see in the net,a cream product using potassuim beewax the product seems great and according to maker very stable so just i'am curious if it gives acceptable ph?)
  • Fekher said:
    Can potassuim-beewax used as an emulsifier or even TEA-beewax in place of borax-beewax ?
    @Perry @Dirtnap1 @Chemist77 @ngarayeva001 @Doreen @chemicalmatt @pepe @MarkBroussard
    I don't see why you can't use it as an emulsifier. 
    The final pH should not be a problem, but if it is, you can use potassium salts with weak acids. 
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    @em88 actually for sure high ph is a problem for a cream , then did weak slat of potassuim lead to a soap?
  • If the acid from the potassium salt is weaker than the fatty acid than it should form a soap. It is the same principle as with borax, which is a sodium salt with a weak acid. 
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    @em88 you have right , however i want to discover potassuim and trolamine beewax can make a good cream. I can make a try and see my problem is to find the hlb of potassium and trolamine beewaxate for borax it is found in bibliography near to 10 ( cause used to emulsify paraffin liquid ) however i can no find any information a bout trolamine and potassuim in bibliography.
  • Even if you have the HLB, how are you going to calculate the amount of surfactant formed? 
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
     @em88 why you need to calculate the amount of surfactant?(and actualy it is not difficult to know it just you need to know the amount of  free acid)   if to know the amount of emulsifier .for beewx the amount used is usually near to normal emulsifier and same even for other soap.
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    Update: About borax beewaxate the hlb is near to 4 because it is used for w/o emulsion and return to required hlb for paraffin liquid  w/o emulsion we find 4 .
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