Introduction: Simply Gorgeous (and Food-Safe) Beeswax Wood Finish

Picture of Simply Gorgeous (and Food-Safe) Beeswax Wood Finish

If you're anything like me, you love woodworking carpentry, but hate the tedium of finishing. For small projects, like the pictured wire spool holder (poplar), it's not worth waiting for dry-times, sanding and polishing.

This is a simple, food-safe, fast, and overall gorgeous way of applying a satin finish to wood surfaces. You can use it on everything from cutting boards to furniture.

You will need:

  • 3 parts by weight medical grade mineral oil. (found at any drug store)
  • 1 part by weight food-safe beeswax. (found at craft or cooking stores, or online)
  • A small cheap crock-pot. You really want a to opt for the ~$13 dedicated device for this. Need one?
  • thermometer (I'm using a thermocouple attachment for my multimeter)
  • balance with 1/10 gram/ounce resolution Need a basic one?

Note: you can also immerse a mason jar in a pot of boiling water, but this is not recommended as the heat is harder to control.

Step 1: Measure the Mineral Oil

Picture of Measure the Mineral Oil

Measure out three parts by weight of mineral oil using the digital balance. (for me this was 24 ounces)

Step 2: Chip and Measure the Beeswax

Picture of Chip and Measure the Beeswax

You'll need to chip up the beeswax, which is very time consuming as its durable stuff. (I used a paring knife) When you think you have enough chips, double that amount and then proceed...

Measure out one part by weight of beeswax chips (I did 8 ounces)

Step 3: Dissolve the Wax

Picture of Dissolve the Wax

  • Add the mineral oil to the crock pot and turn the heat on high.
  • Insert your thermometer. You need to ensure the mixture stays between 70° and 85° Celsius (158°F - 185°F) to be between the melting point of beeswax and the temperature at which it starts to discolor.
  • Slowly add the beeswax chips and stir so that it dissolves evenly.

That's it. The finish is complete and ready to use. You apply it hot., so just keep it in your dedicated crock-pot for futue use...

Step 4: Applying the Finish

Picture of Applying the Finish

Again, we apply the finish HOT. (but not hot enough to really burn)

  • Simply wipe the hot solution onto the wood surface and buff it in.
  • A few minutes later when the solution has absorbed and cooled, wipe off excess with a clean cloth.
  • Repeat if desired.
  • Your wood is now finished. The wood will take in the mineral oil over the next few days and leave the beeswax deposited in the outer fibers of the wood.
  • If you desire more of a polish, you can buff the surface with some solid, pure beeswax.

Tip: I found this to be a handy (N.P.I.) use for my orphaned socks, worn over a rubber dishwashing glove.


MartinA12 (author)2015-05-22


I want to make wax to treat a finely made cocobolo mouthpiece for a vaporizer.

I know that the manufacturer used bees wax with medical grade mineral oil.

Is there any particular type of bees wax, or mineral oil that would be better suited to the application of a mouthpiece: i.e. no effect on taste over time, resistance to temperatures of around 100 celcius.


anarnold (author)MartinA122015-05-22

The high temperatures are troubling. beeswax starts to denature at 80C (it discolors, etc) Have you observed degradation of the original finish?

You might consider experimenting palm oil, with is totally saturated and may be more stable. You could use it to cut Caranuba wax (also a palm product) which should be available in food-safe varieties. This might make a more stable finish.

anarnold (author)anarnold2015-05-22

Also, I've seen vitamin E used to stabilize beeswax finishes, and you can get it as a food-safe suppliment at any drug store. Let me know how it turns out!

MartinA12 (author)anarnold2015-05-22

When you say 'stabilize', in general or a specific way?

MartinA12 (author)anarnold2015-05-22

No dis-colouring on the original, but only the outside is finished to a high level and waxed, and it probably does not get above 50-60 degrees, 3-4mm thick wood. The inside channel is only sanded.

A Caranuba based 'finisher' is advertised often as pipewax, but for the bowl. My vaporizer is very focused on getting the best taste, don't even use metal grills.

Will let you know!

Rickie-LeeM (author)2017-08-27

Hi!! Do you think it's possible to substitute the Mineral Oil for something that is not petroleum based? Would coconut oil work??

mkhutchins made it! (author)2016-11-28

Thanks for your instructable! I wanted something simple for my son's bed to help protect the wood and highlight the natural colors in it. I'm immensely happy with this finish. I had beeswax pellets on hand, which meant making this finish only took a few painless minutes at the stove.

anarnold (author)mkhutchins2016-11-28

Great Project! I think one of the best things about the finish is the tactile "feel" of the finished wood.

ata1anta (author)2016-03-23

To reduce the wax to smaller bits, I have a dedicated grater that I picked up at the dollar store (in the US). You can probably find something similar in discount or second-hand stores. I don't have to worry about dulling knives and I keep it with my wax so someone doesn't mistakenly use it on cheese.

I actually use the mason jar and water method for my wax and oil projects. I only heat the contents hot enough to melt the wax. Since the grater gives me little pieces, once it is hot enough to start melting the wax, I can turn it off and the residual heat finishes melting the wax.

anarnold (author)ata1anta2016-03-23

Great Idea! I'm definitely going to start using a box grater, as you suggest.

pattiemelt (author)2015-04-20

I've always used straight mineral oil on my cutting/dough boards. I'm definitely going to give this a try. Maybe the beeswax will cut down on how often I have to reapply. Thanks for sharing.

seamster (author)2014-08-28

Thanks for sharing this finishing recipe. I'm going to try it out sometime!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an employee of Autodesk, Inc.
More by anarnold:Make Rebar Cages On-site For Concrete PiersSimply Gorgeous (and Food-Safe) Beeswax Wood FinishRehab an Old Hammer
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