Earlier this year Dale got in touch to ask if I’d ever worked with olive wax, and when I replied I’d never worked with it and not found it for sale in Canada, he generously offered to mail me some olive wax and some almond wax. Several months later they arrived in a space-age-looking shiny silver bubble wrap packet—two carefully labeled plastic baggies of waxy pellets. As always, my first step in “getting to know you” is one of my quick guide ratio experiments. Given that olive wax is marketed as an easy one-to-one alternative to beeswax, I modelled the experiment after my beeswax experiment so we can see if that’s really the case.
Olive wax is made from olive oil, though if you’re at all familiar with olives I’m sure you can figure there’s a bit of lab work going on to create a wax from a fruit that does not produce wax. The INCI for olive wax is “Hydrogenated Olea europaea (Olive Oil)”, and the melting point is approximately 60°C (compared to beeswax at about 63°C, and candelilla wax at about 70°C). The little pellets are very wax-like, and remind me of processed beeswax or emulsifying waxes in appearance.
To learn about how olive wax behaves when combined with different amounts of olive oil, I melted together mixtures of it from 1:1–1:8. That is, 1 gram of olive wax with 1 gram of olive oil, and then 1 gram wax to 2 grams oil and so on and so forth, all the way up to 1 gram of olive wax and 8 grams of olive oil. After melting the contents of each wee dish together I removed them from the water bath, swirled to combine, and left them to cool overnight before making my observations.
The first thing I did was poke the set mixture to get an idea for how firm it was. Rock hard? Easily dented? Did my finger go straight through to the bottom of the dish? From there I’d check to see how the mixture felt on my skin; did it melt readily? Was it skinny or silky? Soft, hard, sticky, oily? Creamy or greasy?
Some initial observations from all the different dishes:
- The melting speed was comparable to beeswax; perhaps a bit faster
- The solidifying time was also comparable to beeswax
1:1 (50% olive wax)
Quite firm, but I can press through it with my thumb. It comes up in almost dusty, crumbly bits that don’t melt on contact with the skin (I left some sitting on top of my hand while I typed this), but if I rub the mixture into my skin it spreads quite well and vanishes into the skin. Slightly tacky, but not overly so (similar to shea butter—nothing close to the tackiness of beeswax). Leaves a nice occlusive feel on the skin with some drag—there’s an obvious coating, but it’s not annoying, it just feels like it’d do a good job locking in moisture.
1:2 (33.33% olive wax)
Solid but relatively soft; I can easily press through it with my index finger. The mixture feels rich and creamy. I smeared a relatively thick coating on my inner arm and left it; it softened, but didn’t liquify. When spread around with a finger it is decadently creamy with a slight beeswaxy tack—it’s also lovely on the lips. Great creamy slip between the fingers.
1:3 (25% olive wax)
A soft, creamy solid; I can easily squish it around with my index finger. It’s thick and creamy and quite decadent, with a waxy-ish feel that’s hard to pinpoint. Perhaps a bit plasticky, but not quite. It has a creaminess similar to beeswax, but there’s also a rich feeling that’s more reminiscent of stearic acid. There’s definitely some tack, but it’s more the type of tack I associate with creaminess and adhesion than glue or syrup residue. At this point in time I also have quite a lot of this stuff on my hands and arms, so the tack is becoming more noticeable—time to wash up!
1:4 (20% olive wax)
Soft—just lightly dragging my finger across the surface picks up a bunch of product. Further mooshing about reveals there is a softer liquid core, likely a result of no stirring as the mixture cooled. I schmeared a dollop on the back of my hands and over the course of a minute or two it melted enough to become transparent, but didn’t liquify—it didn’t run all over the place like a melting ice cube would. It’s really neat in that it is melting, but still holding its shape. Lovely slip, somewhat reminiscent of petrolatum. It has an insanely long workable time, making me think it could be a really good base ingredient for a massage balm/salve/ointment. Once I spread it out over more skin it absorbs readily, leaving my skin soft and looking a bit oily, but not feeling oily.
1:5 (16.66% olive wax)
Very soft—we’re definitely into the viscous liquids category. The top had an interesting wavy/crinkly “skin” like topping, and the under bits were very soft and did not hold the shape of being dolloped. I wiggled the dish and the mixture sloshed around a bit. A dollop of the mixture on the back of my hand does melt and start to drool around a bit, but it’s not completely liquid. Beautiful rich, creamy feel and great slip. Massages into the skin really nicely with no skiddy part—it soaks in nicely with great slip, transitioning to a silky powdery feel.
1:6 (14.28% olive wax)
A soft, rich liquid. This one had a bit of a skin on the top, but once I stirred it around with my finger it had the loveliest consistency; silky, rich, viscous… maybe like a really nice hollandaise sauce? A dollop on the back of my hand melts and starts to bleed around the edges a bit, but it’s still got surprisingly good structure to it—I can hold my hand at a 90° angle and it doesn’t really move! On rub-in it still has fantastic play time—not at all characteristic of concoctions containing “true” waxes. Very cool!
1:7 (12.5% olive wax)
Definitely liquid. This one also has a bit of a skin, but quickly reveals itself to be a rich, silky liquid when it stirs. At this level it’ll actually drip off the end of my finger, and it doesn’t stay completely put if I hold my hand at a 90° angle (but still surprisingly good—it is not liquid enough to do that even after sitting on my skin for a few minutes). It smooths over the skin beautifully, and the play time is still great. Leaves skin soft and hydrated with a nice glow—it doesn’t look oily, though.
1:8 (11.11% olive wax)
This one has a viscosity comparable to castor oil; it’s definitely liquid, but has more body than most liquid oils. The bit I dolloped on the back of my hand is definitely running around, but not as much as a plain liquid oil would—amazingly enough, the olive wax is still giving it some body, even sitting straight on my skin. Rubs into the skin beautifully. Rich, creamy, and silky.
- Olive wax is not a suitable 1:1 alternative to beeswax, but it could help replace the creaminess/tack of beeswax in combination with other ingredients
- Unlike many waxes it does not seem to negatively impact slip at all
- It’s sort of like a hybrid between stearic acid and beeswax
|1:1||Yes||Yes||Slow||A little, but not irritatingly so||OK|
|1:2||Yes||Yes||Average||Not sticky, but a bit tacky in a creamy way||Good|
|1:4||No||Barely||Average to fast||No||Great|
What do you think? Have I piqued your interest? Watch for recipes featuring olive wax in the near future!