My series of wax to oil ratio experiments continues today with bayberry wax and olive oil (pomace). Bayberry wax is a plant-based wax made from the fruit of the Myrica faya shrub. The resulting wax is dry, crumbly, and green, and smells wonderfully of the forest. Candelilla and carnauba waxes are both popular vegan alternatives to beeswax, but they’re incredibly smooth and glossy, meaning balms and salves made with them tend to lack the staying power of beeswax balms. Bayberry wax has more in common with beeswax in terms of being a softer, tackier wax, making it a fantastic addition to any vegan wax collection.
Unlike beeswax, bayberry wax cuts easily with a chef’s knife, and quickly falls to small, crumbly bits and dust. It melts at a rather low 45°C (making it a poor sole choice for thickening or solidifying concoctions in hot climates), compared to beeswax’s 63°C melting point.
I’ve used it in lip balm and some other vegan products before, but I decided it was time bayberry wax and I got to know each other a bit better. Because I knew it to be softer than beeswax I decided to start with a 3:1 ratio and work up to a 1:6 (the first number being the wax, the second being the olive oil (pomace)).
I worked in one gram increments, melting my little mixtures together in small dishes placed in a water bath, swirling to thoroughly combine before leaving them to set up for 3 weeks (because I got distracted, not because bayberry wax needs three weeks to harden up) before making my observations. Here’s what I learned.
3:1—Firm but not rock hard. Surprisingly lumpy and uneven. I can pick up a small amount of product by massaging the surface with my finger, and it’s reasonably smooth, but has a not-quite-sticky type staying power similar to that of beeswax. Can be scraped up with a fingernail—the resulting shavings are malleable and almost putty/gum like, and can be massaged into the skin. Relatively faint but noticeable bayberry scent.
2:1–Did not set up evenly, the white areas are quite a lot softer than the greener parts. The whiter part is quite soft and gummy, with a unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada) like tackiness, but it’s not sticky. The firmer green part can be scraped up with a fingernail and acts like the 3:1 mixture. The bayberry scent is still noticeable.
1:1—Relatively easily squishable/mashable with a finger. A similar texture to unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada)—smooth, creamy, and a bit tacky, but not sticky. You can definitely tell it has some wax in it, and this mixture makes quite a nice lip butter. Smells of bayberry.
1:2—Noticeably less firm to the touch—light finger contact begins to melt the surface and bring up some of the mixture. It’s easy to press a finger through to the bottom of the dish. The mixture is soft and smooth, but does not liquify quickly on contact with skin unless spread quite thin. Absorbs quite quickly, doesn’t feel waxy or sticky, but it’s still a bit tacky.
1:3—This is the first blend that actually looks homogenous without any white/greenish streaking. Quite soft, easy to dent with a finger. Melts down to a creamy paste-like mixture with any kind of handling and starts to liquify quickly on the skin. Absorbs quite quickly. Smooth and no longer tacky.
1:4—Super soft, melts quickly, smooth and faintly bayberry scented.
1:5—Very soft, begins to liquify immediately when touched lightly. Pudding-like consistency. Smooth, melts easily, faint bayberry scent.
1:6—This one looks soft before touching it, I can see light creasing on the surface. I can’t even run a finger across the top without denting it, and it begins to liquify as soon as it is touched—I don’t think I’d call this a solid. Smooth, melts very easily, barely noticeable bayberry scent.
A few observations:
- Bayberry wax is tacky like beeswax, but not nearly as sticky at similar concentrations
- Bayberry wax is weaker than beeswax, candelilla wax, and carnauba wax
- The gummy/moldable texture could be very useful
- If you’re looking for a vegan wax alternative, I’d recommend buying bayberry wax and one of the “C” waxes