Today we’re getting to know Berry Fruit Wax (Rhus Verniciflua or Toxicodendron Vernicifluum Peel Cera), a natural vegan wax. Not to be confused with bayberry wax (Myrica Cerifera Fruit Wax), berry wax is made from the waxy coating found on the berries of the Chinese lacquer tree, which is native to China. The sap from this tree is used to create lacquer, while the wax we’re playing with today is found in the peels of berries that grow on the tree.
My berry wax was a gift from Marie Line Tremblay of CosmaCrafts out of Quebec. A big thank you to Ariane for introducing us! It is in small pellet form, pretty typical of cosmetic waxes. My berry wax is pale, with a dusty/ashy surface similar to what I’ve seen on bayberry wax and beeswax in the past. The melting point is 48–54°C (118–129°F), which is lower than many waxes we work with. Beeswax melts around 63°C (145°F), candelilla wax melts around 70°C (158°F), and carnauba wax melts around 80–85°C (176–185°F). Ingredients with similar melting points include bayberry wax (45°C/113°F), cetearyl alcohol (50°C/122°F), and cetyl alcohol (49°C/120°F).
In order to become better acquainted with berry wax, I conducted the same experiment I’ve used to get to know all kinds of hardening/thickening ingredients. I melted the wax in varying ratios with olive oil in a water bath, swirled to combine the melted mixture and let them sit overnight to set up. The next day I started poking, scraping, squishing, and examining the resulting mixtures. When referring to the ratios, the first number is the berry wax, the second is the olive oil, so 1:2 is 1 part berry wax to 2 parts oil, while 1:5 is one part berry wax to five parts olive oil (by weight!).
The first thing I did was poke and prod at the set mixture to get an idea for how firm it was. Was it rock hard or 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? Did it massage into the skin smoothly, or skid across my arm? Was it soft, hard, sticky, oily? Creamy or greasy? Basically, what’s going on, what does this wax offer to our concoctions, and how much does what? Here’s what I learned:
1:1 (50% berry wax)
A few visible cracks on the surface, and doesn’t appear to be uniformly mixed. Quite firm when pressed with a fingertip—under maximum pressure it starts to give and crack a bit. The edges must have a higher wax concentration as I can’t press into the edges at all. A small bit massages into the skin poorly, with some grab and a flake of wax left on the skin that won’t melt.
1:2 (33.33% berry wax)
This one also doesn’t appear to be uniformly mixed, with some visible swirling. A firm press with a fingertip causes a few “rafts” of harder bits to break up to reveal a harder top/shell and a gooey underlayer. Application to the skin is similar to 1:1, with a grabby skin feel and flakes of wax that don’t melt.
1:3 (25% berry wax)
Appears evenly mixed—no visible swirling and the colour is even (all the rest of them are the same). Quite firm, definitely solid—I can press through the surface with my thumb and it gives way into a bit of a creamy “wave”. It has a really interesting creamy gel type consistency. When dabbed onto the skin it slowly turns translucent but does not liquify. It massages into the skin nicely, with a bit of tack left behind.
1:4 (20% berry wax)
Very similar to 1:3, just a bit softer. I can press a finger through it relatively easy; it feels rich and creamy and gives way nicely. Gorgeous rich skin feel with good movement and working time. Once it dries down there is some tack to the skin—skin on a leather car seat in the summer sort of tack—for a few minutes, and then the skin feels soft and lovely. Slow melt time.
1:5 (16.66% berry wax)
Similar to 1:3 and 1:4, just softer. Still has that lovely rich gel-like consistency and slow melt speed. It reminds me of vaseline.
1:6 (14.28% berry wax)
Softer with a faster melt time; the gel consistency is less noticeable here. Does not liquify instantly on the skin. Massages into the skin nicely, slight tack as it dries down before resolving into a velvety finish.
1:7 (12.5% berry wax)
We’re entering soft salve/ointment type territory—when I press into this mixture it clings to my thumb and pulls up into peaks. It’s now a soft solid—I can squish it around easily but it holds its shape in the bowl. Skin feel is still the same—rich, with good working time, slight tack as it dries down, and a soft skin finish.
1:8 (11.11% berry wax)
Semi-solid soft ointment feel. I can easily pick up some product by gently running a fingertip over the surface of the mixture. It is easily squashed and mixed around, but holds its form in the dish. This one looks much glossier than 1:6. Does not liquefy quickly on the skin, but does start to melt. I placed a smear on my leg and it took about a minute before it started to run, and even then it was moving pretty slowly. Massages into the skin nicely with good movement and coverage. As it absorbs it has a bit of the heat/drag you can get from beeswax salves.
- Berry wax has a lovely creamy slip that is a bit similar to beeswax
- Despite its lower melting point, berry wax is quite an effective hardener/solidifier
|1:1||Yes||Yes||Almost none||Not sticky, but a bit tacky in a creamy way||Poor|
|1:2||Yes||Yes||Almost none||Not sticky, but a bit tacky in a creamy way||Poor|
|1:3||Yes||Yes||Slow||Not sticky, but a bit tacky in a creamy way||Good|
|1:4||No||Yes||Slow||Not sticky, but a bit tacky in a creamy way||Good|
|1:5||No||Yes||Slow||Not sticky, but a bit tacky in a creamy way||Great|
|1:6||No||Yes||Average||Slight tack before dry down||Great|
|1:7||No||Soft solid||Average||Slight tack before dry down||Great|
|1:8||No||Soft solid||Average||Slight tack before dry down||Great|
What do you think? Have I piqued your interest? Watch for recipes featuring berry wax in the near future!
The berry fruit wax was gifted by CosmaCrafts.