Today we’re getting to know sunflower wax (Helianthus Annuus Seed Wax), a vegan wax made from the winterization of sunflower seed oil. It’s a potent thickener and hardener with an interesting dry/astringent skin feel. I find it to have a creamier feel than candelilla and carnauba waxes, but less slip (and more hardening power) than psuedo-waxes like olive wax. I can definitely see it being really useful in lipsticks, balms, salves, and all kinds of other things you’d usually use some kind of wax in!

A Quick Guide to Sunflower Wax and Liquid Oil Ratios

My sunflower 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 disc-like pellets that are very brittle—I can snap them in half easily. The smell is a bit waxy, but nothing distinctive. It melts around 74–77°C (165–171°F), which is one of the higher melting points 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).

In order to become better acquainted with sunflower 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 looking at the ratios, the first number is the sunflower wax, the second is the olive oil, so 1:2 is 1 part wax to 2 parts oil, while 1:5 is one part 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, smooth? Oily or powdery? 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% sunflower wax)

This one cracked quite extensively as it cooled, straight through to the bottom of the dish. It is extremely solid—I can’t feel it giving at all when pressing as hard as I can with a fingertip. Rubbing a fingertip across the top has more slip than I would’ve expected for something so hard, but I’m not picking up any noticeable amount of product. I can scrape up some of the mixture with a fingernail; it feels quite dry on the skin and has some grab to it. I can smear it into my skin—it doesn’t really seem to melt, but it does vanish. I tried a bit on my lips and really didn’t like the dry feeling there.

1:2 (33.33% sunflower wax)

No cracks in this one, but I still can’t press through it—it is very hard and I can’t feel it give at all when pressed as hard as I can. Rubbing a fingertip across the surface has fairly decent slip, but almost no discernible product transfer. I can scrape some mixture up with a fingernail (more than 1:1); it does not melt readily on the skin at all. It has a creamy, dry skin feel when massaged in.

1:3 (25% sunflower wax)

I can just press into this mixture, though it requires quite a lot of pressure. The mixture is creamy and rich, and massages into the skin nicely, though it does not liquefy on contact—it just sits on the skin until rubbed in. It has good slip when initially rubbed in and settles into a tacky/grabby patch on the skin.

1:4 (20% sunflower wax)

I can press into this blend, but it still requires a lot of pressure. The mixture is creamy and powdery feeling. It does not melt when left on the skin, but does soften a bit. It massages into the skin fairly well, with a rich creamy/powdery skin feel and some definite tack.

1:5 (16.66% sunflower wax)

Still very firm, but easier to push into than 1:4. Mixture is creamy/powdery/dry feeling. Does not melt quickly on the skin, but can be massaged in. Initial slip is good, but after a few passes it starts to dry down and skid.

1:6 (14.28% sunflower wax)

Still firm, but once I press my thumb through it, it starts to move more. The mixture is still creamy/powdery/dry and does not melt readily. Similar massage experience to 1:5.

1:7 (12.5% sunflower wax)

This one is starting to feel more soft/creamy, but it’s definitely still solid. The dryness is fading towards slippery creaminess.

1:8 (11.11% sunflower wax)

Still surprisingly solid, but more on the creamy/soft-slippy side of things. Massages in well, but after ~5 seconds of rubbing in the skin starts to feel grippy and heats up, much like when you rub in a beeswax salve for a long time. Tacky bare-skin-on-hot-leather-car-seat skin feel after dry down.

Observations

  • Sunflower wax gives mixtures an interesting dry/astringent skin feel
  • At lower concentrations, we start to get more creaminess that settles into long-lasting skin tackiness (that “bare-skin-on-hot-leather-car-seat” sensation)
  • It’s a very effective hardener/solidifier
  • I think it could work well in combination with waxes with better slip, like candelilla, carnauba, olive, or almond

Observations Chart

Hard? Solid? Melt speed Sticky? Slip
1:1 Yes Yes Almost none Yes Poor
1:2 Yes Yes Almost none Yes Poor
1:3 Yes Yes Slow Ok slip fades into tacky/grabby Ok
1:4 Yes Yes Slow Ok slip fades into tacky/grabby Ok
1:5 Yes Yes Slow Ok slip fades into tacky/grabby Ok
1:6 Firm Yes Slow Ok slip fades into tacky/grabby Ok
1:7 Firm Yes Average Creaminess into tacky/grabby Good
1:8 Firm Yes Average Creaminess into tacky/grabby Good

What do you think? Have I piqued your interest? Watch for recipes featuring sunflower wax in the near future!

 

Gifting Disclosure

The sunflower wax was gifted by CosmaCrafts.

 

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