Beeswax has been used to make polish for hundreds of years and can be used to enhance and protect many products made from wood or leather – wooden furniture, chopping boards, bowls or utensils; leather bags, shoes, furniture or clothing.
Recipes for homemade beeswax polish
There are a number of commercial polishes available, but it’s actually quite simple to make your own. We’ve put together a series of different recipes for how to make Beeswax Polish – so if you want to know how to make furniture polish or how you make leather polish, we hope you find one here that suits your needs!
Let’s start with some of the basics. All of these recipes are basically a mixture of wax and oil, some include water and emulsifiers (to mix the water with the oil)
- Animal waxes – of which beeswax is the most familiar
- Mineral wax – including paraffin, a by-product of petroleum
- Vegetable wax – often carnauba wax from Palm Trees
- Turpentine Oil (also called Spirit of Turpentine or Turps) is the traditional oil used in furniture polish and has that smell which can remind you of old mahogany furniture. However, it’s toxic so it’s best not to use turps in polish for food items such as bowls or chopping boards!
- Food grade oils – such as olive oil, coconut oil, hazelnut oil, food grade linseed oil. Whilst it’s important to use these on food preparation or serving products, some (such as olive oil) can go rancid quite quickly. Hazelnut oil is a lovely long-lasting oil but is likely to be problematic for people with nut allergies.
- Animal Oils – these can be great for leather polish and include Lanolin (sheep grease) or tallow (beef fat)
- Non-food grade oils – non-food grade linseed oil (boiled and chemically treated to make it last longer), mineral oils (derived from petroleum)
The method of making all these recipes is pretty much the same – you’re basically melting them together, giving them a good mix then pouring them into containers to allow them to set. However, many of these products are flammable and turps is not very nice if you get it on your skin – so do be careful!
Note – it’s best to use glass or metal containers if you have used turps because it does have a tendency to dissolve plastic!
Let’s start with the base recipe – you can use this for a variety of things – furniture, shoes, bags etc., then we’ll have a look at some variations you can have a play with:
Basic Recipe for Beeswax Polish
- 15g beeswax (this is one of our little hexagons) – click here if you want more info
- 45g oil (olive oil, Hazelnut oil, linseed oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil all work well – some products even use avocado oil!)
- 10 – 20 drops of essential oil such as lavender, sandalwood (this one’s really expensive and is an endangered species) or other woody scents such as pine, or cypress or cedarwood are nice.
- Optional 10 drops of Vitamin E oil (Wheatgerm oil) or rosemary which act as antioxidants and extend the life of the oil.
This will make around 60g of polish – about enough to fill a standard sized shoe polish tin. If you want to make more, simply increase the materials proportionately – i.e. to make double this, use 30g beeswax (two of our little hexagons), 90g oil and 20 – 40 drops of essential oil etc.
Put the 45g oil and beeswax in a bain marie (or a pyrex / metal jug in a pan of boiling water) and heat it gently, stirring occasionally until the beeswax melts (this will take about 5 -10 minutes). Then remove from the heat and add the essential oil and optional vitamin E oil (or other antioxidant oil) and stir well.
Finally, pour the melted mixture into a tin or glass container and allow to set (this takes about 10 minutes) (top tip – don’t use a container with a narrow neck because it’ll be difficult to get the polish out!)
Here are some nice variations:
For wooden Chopping Boards and Bowls
If the wood is to be used to serve food, then it’s important to make sure the oil is food grade.
- If you’re using linseed oil, make sure it’s raw, food grade oil (not boiled and chemically treated as the chemicals they use are normally toxic for humans).
- Olive oil is obviously food grade, but it does tend to go rancid fairly quickly.
- Hazelnut oil is a lovely long-lasting oil but is likely to be problematic for people with nut allergies.
- You can also use mineral oil (a petroleum derivative) I personally dislike mineral oil but it is used in many polish products.
My top choices for homemade beeswax polish for wood are: Jojoba, pure food grade linseed and coconut oil
Select your choice of oil and use the basic recipe above for how to make beeswax wood polish
Leather is basically skin, so many of the oils we use to protect and nourish our skin will also work on leather. I’ve seen some products use jojoba, sandalwood and avocado oil!
In our basic recipe above, you can use a mixture of oils (including lanolin and tallow if you like) and lavender oil is a lovely scent for leather polish. If there’s a particular brand of leather polish you like, have a look at the ingredients and see what’s in it, then you can play using the basic proportions of wax, oil and essential oils above to create your own version!
How to make Beeswax Polish for Wood Furniture – the traditional way
If you’d like to know how to make beeswax wood polish – The traditional polish (like your grandad might have used!) often contained turpentine also called spirit of turpentine, oil of turpentine, wood turpentine or just Turps. This is a fluid obtained by the distillation of resin harvested from living trees. It makes a fab furniture polish with an amazing smell, but is toxic to the skin when ‘neat’ and the polish can ‘melt’ plastic, so make sure to use metal or glass containers to store it.
1. Traditional Liquid beeswax furniture polish
- 25 g pure soap flakes
- 50 g beeswax
- 250 ml turpentine
- 125 ml water
Dissolve the soap in the warm water in one pan, put the shaved wax into the turpentine in jug over warm water (or bain marie) and warm gently until the wax is thoroughly melted and dissolved. Make sure both mixtures are around the same temperature, then pour the soap mixture into the turpentine, stirring with a wooden stick. When dissolved and well mixed, pour into the storage jars.
2. Traditional Cream or paste beeswax furniture polish
This recipe is simply a mixture of beeswax and a suitable solvent. The less solvent used, the more stiff the mixture. The traditional solvent is pure turpentine and this gives to beeswax polish the scent reminiscent of gleaming old mahogany.
- 50 g beeswax
- 125 ml Turps
As per our basic recipe above – simply mix the ingredients together in a heatproof jug over water, or a bain marie, and then, when thoroughly melted and mixed, pour into containers to set
3. Traditional Liquid Cream Polish with Pine Oil
Another recipe adding soap and pine oil can give a far more liquid cream product with a distinctive aroma.
- 50 g beeswax
- 125ml Turps
- 25 g pure soap flakes
- 125 ml warm water
- 25 ml pine oil
Dissolve the soap in the warm water and mix well. Set aside to cool. Mix the beeswax and solvent as described above. Allow to cool. When both are cool, mix the pine oil, beeswax/solvent and soap/water together. If you have difficulty in mixing, heat slightly.
4. Traditional Solid beeswax furniture polish
- 50g beeswax
- 50ml Turps
- 50ml Linseed oil
As per our basic recipe for how to make beeswax polish, put all the ingredients in a bain marie or heatproof just and heat gently over water until dissolved. Stir thoroughly and pour into containers. If this mixture is not solid enough, then either decrease the quantity of turpentine or linseed oil or increase the quantity of beeswax.
5. Very Solid furniture polish – for use in wood turning or lathes
- 50 g Carnauba wax
- 150g beeswax
- 200ml turpentine
To make solid wood polish for wood turning, it’s the same basic method as before – but carnauba wax melts at a far higher temperature so you’ll need to heat it more. Carnauba wax give great hardness with a high gloss finish. It is extracted from the leaves of a palm tree which flourishes in Brazil.
How to use beeswax furniture polish
If you want to know how to apply beeswax to furniture using one of these recipes, simply buff onto a wooden surface with a clean cotton cloth. Let dry for a few minutes (or up to about 15 minutes for the turps polish) and then re-apply or buff off any leftovers .
How to polish other wood items
if using the hard wax for wood turning or lathes, hold the polish in a cloth against the revolving lathe and the friction will melt the wax and spread it evenly over the surface. Sometimes people ask how to use solid beeswax on wood – this is possible (especially if using a lathe to soften the wax) but beeswax by itself is very hard so an easier way to apply beeswax to wood is to follow one of these homemade beeswax polish recipes.
We have long been asked whether we sell our beeswax – and this year, we have started to sell our pure, unrefined beeswax online – with free delivery, it’s easy to buy and perfect for making any of these recipes.