Beeswax vs Parafin

Started by spookietoo, November 22, 2017, 07:23:41 AM

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I've reached a point that I can't stand to do any hand sewing without waxed thread. The new threads I have access to twist and knot continuously if I don't. ( I have vintage threads that do not have this problem.)

Went out looking for beeswax yesterday - $18 for a one pound block or $12 for pellets that I'd have to melt and form, etc. I've been using these 1" discs from Dritz (all I could find locally) and they are driving me nuts. A PITA to use.

I'd really rather not spend the money at the moment - lots of expenses coming up.

So I have a very old 3"x3"x6" off-white, pillar candle that I am satisfied is parafin and not beeswax. I ran the thread through and there seemed to be little if anything on the thread. I pressed it and almost nothing came off onto the paper towel, but it had a nice hand and hung quite straight. Just used it for a few simple test strips. Worked great. Pressed it hard, removed part of the thread and studied the fabric under a magnifying glass. I see no oily residue at all.

Beeswax contains lipids that could theoretically be problematic on some fabrics.

Has anyone out there tried this? Are there issues I should expect or look for? I was planning on an Amazon order next week, but if this would work, my family probably has 10 lifetime supplies of unused white/off-white parafin candles that could be used for this purpose - that much less to send to the landfill.

Any thoughts?

FYI - I have no health concerns regarding the chemicals released from this microscopic amount of parafin - like many humans in this country I enjoy a scented candle from time to time - so that is a non-issue. Just wondering about potential effects/interactions with fabrics.



If you can find beeswax on eBay or similar, it should cost peanuts if it comes from a bee keeper. I have tried most as I have the same problem when I sew on buttons that unless I use waxed thread, it can knot and tangle. Candle wax almost does the job but beeswax if the "bees knees" for this task. Its also easy to use in that if you have it in small blocks (usually moulded) you can just press your thumb over the thread then drag the thread through the wax surface.
The magnificent tools of the professional tailor  ;) ;D


I don´t have experience with paraffin. It´s also used for waxed fabrics, so I think it´s not problematic.
When you look for bees way, ask your local bee keeper (maybe there is even a local association), at your Pharmacy (wax is used for a wide range of products), your art supply store or look for beeswax christmas tree candles.

theresa in tucson

Spookie, Pam Erny had posted a technique on her blog (Off the Cuff) on consolidating a beeswax disk that was crumbling.  She used several shots of steam from a steam iron.  I consolidate shoeshine polish in much the same way.

You can find beeswax in sheets at some hobby stores.  Its rolled around a wick to make a candle.  You could cut the sheets into squares or dice, stack them up inside a square of aluminum foil and pop it into a muffin tin and into a hot oven until malleable.


When you have to melt your beewax, keep the temperature as low as possible. Beeswax gets crumbly when overheated and can´t be restored then.


Thank you guys for so many responses!

So basically, parafin is okay in a pinch (which I did). I've seen the small bars on Amazon, approx. a $1 each. And as each begins to disintegrate  they could be melted back together. One order should last awhile.

Craft stores locally had no beeswax candles, then I thought of Earthfare - an organic supermarket chain - and boom! - problem solved for now, decent sized beeswax votive candle $3.50. Probably will last me 6 months to a year.

Peterle - thanks for explaining why not to overheat the beeswax - pretty sure Dritz did just that!

As for locating a beekeeper - unless I run across one at a farmers' market, I'll not go looking.  My doctor's mouth dropped open when I explained my reaction to one honey bee sting on my foot - upper body could be a permanent "lights out".  I'd pay the $18 before I would intentionally go looking for a keeper.

I understand and respect all the good things bees do (not to mention honey!) but I give each one I encounter a very wide berth!

Thanks again!


I had honey bees. They weren't always here. Out in the farmers fields, up in the mountains. One bee keeper said he got 800 pounds of honey from one beehive. Fireweed honey. And that is just one "crop" of honey that year from those hives. He might have had a thousand hives up there. I think he said he could handle 5,000 hives by himself. One hive got 900 pounds of honey from alfalfa. Stores that sell bee equipment can give contacts. Bee associations meet at libraries and other locations. Believe me, some bee keepers want to sell wax. You might find them bidding down the price to sell you some at one of their monthly meetings. I wouldn't go to farmer markets for bees wax. But, you might find a good price there.

Hornets and wasp have different poisons in them. Each variety could be different. Reaction with one type and maybe not the others. Honey bees get blamed a lot. This one swarm I went to get was by far the nastiest bees I've ever been around. Some bee hives are so nice you can work them while naked. This nasty swarm I picked up the guy who lived there said that when stung by honey bees his head would Swell up to the size of a basketball. Never stopped him from playing with honey bees. Bee keepers never know if the next sting will kill them. If the doctor says to stay away from them, absolutely do! They are an interesting creature.

theresa in tucson

Spookie, I was in Ace hardware today for replacement keys and decided to wander around and snoop shop.  I found a disk of beeswax for about $4.  It's used on screw tips, drawer bottoms and the like to promote easy movement.  You can now add hardware stores to the list of places to find beeswax.


The magnificent tools of the professional tailor  ;) ;D