You should make your own furniture wax

Update: I found out after some experimenting that this stuff is also great for waterproofing veg-tan leather. I finished this Nexus 5 case with it.

In my post on making tablet stands I used hard wax from Clou. The stuff is not very expensive, but not cheap either: 9 euros or so in a German DIY store. Since the tin stated it only contained linseed oil, beeswax and carnauba wax, I thought I’d have a go at making it myself. I’ve been making cosmetics for a while (very manly stuff, lip balm and such), and I reckoned this stuff is not that dissimilar. Here’s how I did it:

IMG_0483

The ingredients:
15g beeswax (1/2 ounce)
15g carnaubawax (1/2 ounce)
60ml boiled linseed oil (2 US fluid ounces)
30ml vegetable oil (I use wheat bran oil, because it’s colourless and in my experience, it doesn’t spoil) (1 US fluid ounce)
6 drops of essential orange oil (optional, to make it smell better. You will be putting this on your furniture, after all) (6 US drops)
And, very important: something to put the stuff in. I used a “herrenschokolade” tin. It’s a German brand of dark chocolate that you can buy in a tin. It’s exactly the same size as a wax tin. Nice.
IMG_0488

Put all ingredients except for the essential oil in your most retro double boiler. Let it melt. The carnauba wax has the highest melting point so it will take a while to fully dissolve. I don’t know if any of this stuff is flammable but I would be careful with a gas stove. I use induction so no problem for me.IMG_0489

Stir continuously to speed up the process.IMG_0492

When the liquid is clear…IMG_0493

…pour it into a tin.

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The end result looks almost exactly the same as the “hartwachs”. It smells nicer, though. Also a lot cheaper. This is the “Bill of Materials”:

15g beeswax (at 9,50 per 500g)= 0.28
15g carnauba wax (at 9,95 per 500g)= 0,30
60ml boiled linseed oil (at 12 per 500ml)= 1,44
30ml vegetable oil (at 1,20 per 1.5l)= 0,11
6 drops of essential orange oil= practically free
Tin= free
———————————-
2,13

This recipe yielded two tins by the way, so that’s a little more than one euro (1.2958 U.S. dollars at time of writing).

IMG_0499

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18 replies on “You should make your own furniture wax

  • sheri

    Hi,
    I’m so glad you are sharing this recipe. I’m chemically sensitive and the natural wax I use called Cece Caldwell clear wax can be pretty expensive. I would love to try making my own.
    I’m in America so we are backward in everything metric. Is it possible for you to give me the measurements in ounces? Also, I’ve heard boiled linseed is pretty toxic, can raw be used?
    Thanks,
    Sheri

    Reply
    • Lieuwe

      Hi Sheri,
      Thank you for your comment. As far as I know boiled linseed oil can be toxic because of added driers. I get my linseed oil from a small traditional oil mill, so no nasty stuff added. Boiled linseed oil itself is not really toxic, unless ingested in large quantities. It does contain allergens, though. Some people can get a rash from it, but I have no problems at all. Raw can be used if you can’t get good boiled, but the wax will take a lot longer to harden and you will get not as nice results.
      I will add American measurements to this recipe as soon as possible.

      Reply
    • Lieuwe

      Hi Sheri,

      I added American measurements. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck and have fun!

      Lieuwe

      Reply
  • Abelardo Almaraz

    Hello, I live in Mexico, and I have been searching a lot of recipies about beeswax, and your post is by far the best in the web. I will follow all your instructions and will tell you the results, thank you.

    Reply
  • Chance

    So what are the best uses for this recipe? What practical applications can this be used for? Well done by the way – clean and direct instructions.

    Best,

    Chance

    Reply
    • Lieuwe

      Hey Chance,

      Thanks! I use this wax for all kinds of things, especially furniture that needs re-finishing or tool handles. I usually plane or scrape the wood, or sand it to a pretty fine grit. Then the wax seals the wood and gives it a nice finish. I often apply several thin layers, allowing them to dry for a couple of hours and rubbing them out in between. Lately I’ve used this other recipe for food safe wax a lot more, though. Both recipes have a lot in common, but this one dries faster and harder, while the other one is (of course) food safe.

      Best,
      Lieuwe

      Reply
      • Chance

        Lieuwe –

        Thanks so much! May I ask a few more questions?
        When used as a furniture wax does this tend to “trap” dust, per se? For furniture applications have you used this as a top coat (over varnish, lacquer, etc)?
        Finally, with regard to tool handles (which was really how I came to find your great site) I’m curious if you apply while the wax is still in liquid form at all. I’ve normally used just boiled linseed oil, which is a liquid and applies nicely.

        Best,

        Chance

        Reply
        • Lieuwe

          Hey Chance,

          in my experience it doesn’t tend to trap dust. I’ve used it as a top coat over hand rubbed (french polish) shellac, or straight on the unfinished wood only. I’ve also applies it hot (liquid) a couple of times, which really seems to help the wax penetrate deeper. But I usually don’t bother. Boiled linseed oil is a great finish as well, but this wax gives a bit more protection against moisture. I also find that you don’t have to reapply it as often.

          Best,
          Lieuwe

          Reply
  • Soren Cicchini

    Nice one! Thanks for posting the info.

    I have a slightly different recipe with variations for particular applications, which may be of interest.

    My basic mixture that I use for wood is:
    – 1 part carnauba wax
    – 5 parts beeswax
    – 6 parts gum turpentine
    I melt the waxes together as you did, and pour the molten mixture into a container that already has an equal amount of gum turpentine in it. When it cools, it solidifies into a fairly hard white wax paste that gives under pressure and spreads under the heat of your hands. If I use a carnauba to beeswax ratio much higher than this, it gets very hard and tends to cleave into blocks rather than coming away as a paste.
    Gum turpentine is a plant-derived solvent that smells great (unlike mineral turpentine) – like a forest. I buy it at the hardware store.
    I use white beeswax that has been “decolourised” using the heat of the sun, no chemicals (it smells wonderful), so as to provide a neutral polish that doesn’t affect the colour of the wood, so that it is a bit more flexible in terms of application. I buy beeswax and carnauba wax from places that supply raw ingredients for making cosmetics, soap or candles.
    Because some wood I use is already dark, I prefer to apply the oil separately and then wax it with my standard neutral wax, but you can also mix oil into the wax, which I do for most leather. You also don’t get as glossy a finish when you mix oil into the wax.
    There are only a couple of applications where I want the leather to remain stiff, rather than supple, such as knife sheaths, and I’ll use the wax as is on them. It’s also good for anything made from horn, but I usually apply an animal oil to that first.
    For leather that I want to be more pliable, I’ll add an animal oil, such as mink oil or neatsfoot (bovine) oil, and also some pine pitch if I’m not worried about the leather turning darker, as it has an anti-microbial action. I got this idea from the Montana Pitch Blend products, which are beeswax, mink oil and pine pitch. You could probably omit the carnauba, as they did, but for items that aren’t adversely affected by the extra stiffness, such as boots, I think it’s fine to use and it adds some durability.
    Pine pitch is available from places that sell baseball equipment, as it is applied to bat handles. It may be sold as liquid pine tar.
    For wood that I want to take on a golden glow, I use a mixture of raw linseed oil (hardware) and gum turpentine (about 50/50). The gum turpentine helps the oil penetrate the wood and also accelerates drying.
    For wood that I don’t want to get darker, or is to be in contact with food, such as cutting boards, I use a 50/50 mixture of mineral oil and gum turpentine. Depending on your location, mineral oil may be sold as liquid paraffin. It is available from the hardware as a water tank sealer, and also from the pharmacy and the health care aisle of the supermarket, as it has traditionally been used as a laxative.
    Wax is only a temporary finish, so for something more durable on wood, I first use the procedure outlined in Post#7 and the link in Post#5 at http://www.britishblades.com/forums/showthread.php?78590-CCL-oil
    I make my mixture using an ultra-blonde shellac, again for neutrality.

    Reply
  • Marcel Nebel

    Great recipe and directions!
    Just wondering why you would use vegetable oil in addition to linseed oil instead of only using linseed oil? Can this wax be used on cutting boards?

    Reply
    • Lieuwe

      Thanks! I’m glad you asked: this recipe isn’t food safe, as it contains boiled linseed oil (which contains heavy metals). I also wrote this post about food safe wax. But I wrote these posts a long time ago. Nowadays, I usually just use a drying oil such as linseed oil (refined and pre-oxidized, I’ll write a post about that too one day) or walnut oil. You can add other vegetable oils, but not just any oil. It needs to be a drying oil. That means that the oil will polymerize and form a hard film over time. Some vegetable oils that don’t dry become rancid, which is something you definitely don’t want on your cutting boards. If you want to look up which oils will dry well, look for oils with a high iodine value. 120 and over is what I usually go for.

      Reply

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