Imagine the difference in burning a pure beeswax candle vs a toxic paraffin one? We know which one we'd prefer to be in a room with.
Or imagine the difference in using pure beeswax as the basis for your lip balm, compared to putting a chemical cocktail on your lips? Yikes!
Even as beekeepers we are shocked sometimes at what importers and retailers try to get away with when it comes to selling purportedly Australian beeswax and honey, especially as they suck in innocent consumers along the way.
First there were the well publicised honey recalls and fines back in 2014 when some honey being sold under a number of different brands, and often misrepresented as being Australian, turned out to be 100% corn syrup imported from Turkey. You can read more about those fake honey cases here.
But what is less widely known is that there are also cases of fake beeswax and adulterated beeswax where the beeswax is mixed with the man-made chemical product, paraffin. Paraffin, made from petroleum, is as far removed from beeswax as you can get. Whereas beeswax is a sustainable, natural, healthy material, paraffin is most certainly not. Paraffin is often also mixed with other chemicals to more closely mimic the behaviour and look of beeswax.
In 2018, Bunnings actually removed a furniture polish from its shelf that claimed to be made from beeswax but was actually based on paraffin. It did so after being alerted by the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council of Australia (AHBIC). You can read more about the story here and about the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council here.
AHBIC has long been concerned about blocks of wax being imported into Australia, and wax foundation and in 2018 wrote to the Federal Department of Agriculture about these concerns. The response received was that the Department advised "that as beeswax is not a food then they cannot regulate the importation or even check that it is beeswax". Wow! That's why the AHBIC says, "It is now up to the beekeeping industry to start a campaign to ask beekeepers and the public not to buy or use any imported beeswax...". You can read the full AHBIC statement here.
So, how do you know if what you are buying is 100% pure Australian beeswax, or a paraffin, mixed wax or imported wax product?
Unfortunately, it's really difficult!
Definitely have your guard up if you see beeswax being advertised cheaply. There is a reason it's cheap and it's likely the offer is too good to be true.
At The Beekeeper's Honey, we are out in the field collecting honey and are the same team who then process and sell it. We know what plants our bees have been on, in what NSW forests, and when.
So yes, your best option is to buy direct from a beekeeper you know and trust. Beeswax is difficult and time consuming for bees to make, and can be difficult and time consuming for us beekeepers to collect, melt, filter and pack. But it's worth it! It really is one of nature's most amazing materials.
What are you using pure beeswax for? Candles, balms, polishes and beeswax food wraps? Art? Or something else? Would love to hear!