I’ve been having fun playing with a new ingredient lately—cera bellina. Cera bellina is derived from beeswax, and it does some really cool things. For starters, it makes oil gels! Think about ointments—that soft, creamy, translucent texture. Cera bellina does that! It also helps with even ingredient distribution, preventing sweating, and even preventing that irksome graininess we’ve all encountered with buttery concoctions. It can be used anywhere you’d use beeswax, albeit with different results—so even though you can, you might not want to. Anywho, I thought it was best cera bellina and I got better acquainted so I could have a good baseline understanding of how it works before I start diving into DIYing with it, which means it’s time for another one of my quick guides!
I purchased my cera bellina from Windy Point here in Canada, but I’ve also found it on Lotion Crafter and Brambleberry. It comes as wee pastilles and looks just like refined beeswax.
For anyone keeping track at home, the set up of this experiment is identical to my experiment with beeswax, making it easy to compare how beeswax and cera bellina behave in otherwise identical circumstances.
Here’s how I set up the experiment:
- I weighed 1 gram (0.03oz) of cera bellina into eight little glass dishes.
- I weighed olive oil into each dish, increasing the amount by one gram per dish. So, dish one had 1 gram of cera bellina and one gram of olive oil, dish two had two grams of olive oil, etc.
- I melted the contents of each dish in a hot water bath. Once everything was thoroughly liquid I remove the dish from the heat, swirled it to combine the melted ingredients, and set the dish aside to set up.
- They ended up setting up for about five days, which was more so a function of me being busy than any sort of scientific reasoning.
- Observations time!
Now, for my observations. Here’s what I was looking at:
- How did it look? Any cracks or visible differences between parts of the mixture?
- How hard was it? I tested this by pressing on the surface of the mixture with my fingertip (as you would in order to apply a salve or lip balm), and then scraping with a fingernail. I’d also check to see if I could press my finger through the top of it.
- How quickly did it melt, and how did it melt? This was pretty easy to observe by simply handling bits of each mixture.
- How sticky was it? I rubbed the mixtures into my arm and tested to see how tacky they were.
- How was the slip? I tested this by rubbing bits of the mixture between my fingers, on my legs, and on my lips.
1:1 (50% cera bellina)
Looks very solid and a bit milky. When I run the pad of my finger across it, it’s not sticky, but I’m also not picking up much (if any) product—it almost feels a bit velvety. I can’t press a finger through it. I can start to pick some up with a fingernail (this goes smoothly—no crumbling or cracking), and when I rub that into my skin it’s quite thick and pasty, and a bit tacky. It’s nowhere near as hard or sticky as a 1:1 beeswax mixture.
1:2 (33.3% cera bellina)
Still pale and solid looking, and I cannot press a finger through it. Rubbing a fingerpad across the surface of the mixture has good slip, but very little product pickup—could be a good consistency for something like a solid perfume. I can relatively easy scrape some up with a finger nail, and that bit of the mixture spreads really nicely on the skin; it actually reminds me quite a bit of unrefined shea butter. It’s smooth, yet a bit tacky. The melting point is still quite high; I can leave it on my skin and it softens, but doesn’t melt or liquefy. Once I rub it into the skin it vanishes quickly, leaving no noticeable tack. It also doesn’t skid, like a beeswax mixture at this concentration would. It’s nice as a tacky lip balm that’s not too firm; it spreads well but maintains a slight tack that’s great for extended wear.
1:3 (25% cera bellina)
This one has a crack across the surface, and is the first one I can press my finger through, though it is still quite firm. Running a finger pad across the top of it is still very similar to the 1:2; it’s smooth, but I’m not picking up much product. It melts enough that my finger will glide across it, but very little oil ends up on my finger. Scraping a finger across the surface picks up some product relatively easily. It does not melt on contact with the skin, but softens. It rubs into skin really nicely, absorbing quickly once it is sheered out well (rather than concentrated in one spot). It has very slight tack in higher concentrations.
1:4 (20% cera bellina)
I can see a very slight crack in the surface of this one, and otherwise it just looks like a milky solid. When I rub a finger pad over the top of it is has an almost plasticky feeling; it’s very smooth and has great glide. I am getting some product with my finger pad, but very little. I can press my finger through it, and this is the first one that is gel-like—though beneath a firmer top layer. It’s very smooth and has a really ointment-y feel. Higher concentrations do not melt/liquify on the skin, but once it’s rubbed in it absorbs quite quickly. Picking some up with a fingernail is really easy.
1:5 (16.6% cera bellina)
This one also has a crack across the surface. Running a finger across the top of it is similar to the 1:4, except for accidentally pushing a finger through it—it’s definitely the softest one yet! Like 1:4, this one has a harder top and a softer, ointment-y under belly that starts to look quite melty after quick contact—this one does melt and liquefy on skin contact. I popped a blob on my arm and it definitely melted, though not instantly (nothing like coconut oil would, for instance). This one is also quite translucent on the skin, and more so the more it melts. It has great slip and feels very oily (surprise!) when handled. It rubs into the skin very easily and when spread over a wide area it absorbs quite quickly, leaving a smooth finish.
1:6 (14% cera bellina)
This one has a crack across the surface, and another around the edges of the dish. Disregard the colour change, I just had to swap to a new bottle of olive oil from here on out and it was obviously a slightly different colour! This one is definitely soft—I dented it with my finger when I went to check the surface feel. This one has a thin, firmer film on top that easily gives way to a soft, ointment-y, definitely-a-gel, under belly. The soft part is so soft that it’s barely not liquid—maybe like heavy cream? The top film is also not blending into the soft stuff very well, so in concentrations from down it would be a good idea to stir the mixture as it cools to avoid having harder shards of product distributed through an otherwise very soft ointment.
1:7 (12.5% cera bellina)
No cracks on this one, which is odd as 1:6 and 1:8 both have cracks. Another softie—running a finger across the top of it leaves a long, finger-shaped dent. This one also has a soft underside and a harder film overtop, while the edges are a hybrid; neither firm top not super soft ointment. The slip is fantastic, and it absorbs quickly—it almost feels like a pure carrier oil rather than one mixed with wax. Stirring throughout cooling is definitely recommended for this concentration as well—because of the differences in the consistencies of the different parts of it, this one is quite lumpy when stirred and mashed up.
1:8 (11% cera bellina)
This one has a crack across the top and I can clearly see the firm top/gooey bottom through it—gentle pressing with the pad of a finger has the soft under bit seeping out of the cracks. It’s still thick enough that it doesn’t completely ooze out on its own, but barely. The soft part is virtually indistinguishable from plain olive oil. Fantastic slip and good absorbency. Stirring through cooling would be a must with this blend; it would definitely be thicker overall with better mixing.
- Cera bellina is much softer than beeswax
- While cera bellina will product solids of similar hardness to beeswax, they have much better slip and feel
- Where beeswax gets creamy, cera bellina gets ointment-y
- Cera bellina concoctions at 20% and less form a really neat translucent, gel-like product
- If you want to make anything ointment-like, this is a must
- You could use cera bellina in any recipe that calls for beeswax and vice versa, but keep in mind that swapping to cera bellina will make for a softer, glossier product, while switching to beeswax will make for a harder, potentially skiddier product. I would not use beeswax instead of cera bellina for higher concentration applications, and definitely not in anything where you want a gel texture.
|1:1||Yes||Yes||Very, very slow||Yes, but not irritatingly so||OK|
|1:2||Yes||Yes||Slow||Not sticky, but a bit tacky in a creamy way||Good|
|1:4||Firm||Yes||Average to fast||Maybe the teensiest amount?||Good|
|1:5||A soft firm||Soft solid||Average to fast||No||Great|
What do you think? Have I piqued your interest? Watch for recipes featuring cera bellina in the near future!
Hmm, this sounds like it may make a nice roller ball lip gloss and something that would hold color nicely. I haven’t found a lip gloss formula yet that I’m happy with
Have fun experimenting 🙂
With my last order from Lotion Crafter I bought a small amount of cera bellina. I’d just made my first ‘grainy’ shea butter lip balm and thought it might help, but I still haven’t used it yet. I’ve read Susan’s information on Point of Interest and followed her link to the French company AromaZone for the recipes they have incorporating it. Lotion Crafter has a table of the percentage of cera bellina required to gel specific oils and it is fascinating how that percentage can differ so much, from 6.5% for castor oil to 12.3% for jojoba. Manufactured oils like IPM are much higher (25%!). I look forward to doing my own tests. Thanks for posting your results, this helps a lot.
Yes, I saw that, and this experiment is really just a loose reference for anything that isn’t olive oil—still a fun mess to make, though! Happy gelling 😀
Thanks so much for all that hard work! The visuals really help with the understanding of the product. I do have a question about a lip balm…it sounds like this would make a great addition…but on the photo of the packaging…it says for external use only. Would it be safe in a lip balm?
Admire you so much…
Hey Rose! All cosmetic grade ingredients will be labelled with “for external use only”, but most are generally accepted as safe for use on and around the mouth—just don’t straight up eat them! I wouldn’t eat cosmetic grade beeswax, olive oil, or walnut oil, but that’s obviously not because those things are poisonous. Some things, are, though—mostly EOs and herbs. Don’t use things like tea tree oil and wintergreen around your mouth, those are toxic!
I have a wintergreen earthpaste I use
Thanks for the info, I’m excited to try this in a body butter! I’ve ordered some from Windy Point, glad for the free Calgary delivery!
Wahoo! I LOVE Windy Point’s free Calgary delivery—the more stuff they carry, the more I’ll choose them over Soap & More for pretty much anything!
What a cool product! Is there a vegan counterpart?
Nothing I know of, sorry.
Ooo, I have always wondered what this stuff actually is after seeing it in a few recipes! Thank you for your thorough testing, I am going to pick some up and play with it; I have a cuticle salve that might benefit from using cera bellina instead of beeswax.
Have fun! 😀 Remember to start small, this odd-duck ingredient plays differently with different oils 🙂
I’ve had this in my ‘cart’ at Brambleberry for about a year now, so thank you for buying it and the experiment.
Now I know I should finally order it, because you’re going to make stuff with it.
Yup! 😀 You know me well 😉 It’s a pretty fun new toy, and pretty affordable as our new toys go haha.
Awesome! Can’t wait to see what we’ll be making with it
Placing my order today!
Woohoo! I think you’ll have a lot of fun playing with it 😀
I make a pretty hard hold pomade with clay in it. I have a feeling that this would work really well in place of the beeswax to give it that more gel-like consistency of pomades from the store. To the lab!
Happy experimenting! Which clay are you using?
Would love to see the 1:6 after it’s been stirres theough the cooling process. Looks like I’ll be placing a oder for some today. Don’t want to get caught without it when the recipes start popping up!
😀 You know me well! 😉
Geez my thumbs must have been frozen. Glad that you can also translate.
‘Tis that time of year! It’s finally back up around 0°C here and I am SO happy!
I did indeed order this! From a company called, “Aroma Zone”. I feel all fancy ordering stuff from France! Oh la la!
Can’t wait to play with it but I might have to play with it in England.
Schmancy! OOooer. I hope you like it 🙂
Hi, Marie: is there an alternative to Cera Bellina? I bought local beeswax and wonder if I can do “something” with the beeswax as a substitution for the cera bellina? Windy Point charges a lot for delivery since I live in another province. C
You can definitely try a 1:1 beeswax swap; try comparing this experiment to the beeswax one to see how close they are and decide if you want to use more or less 🙂
Just wanted to say thank you for this experiment as not all of us have the time to do it ourselves 🙂 Very good method
Thanks for reading and happy making!
Would you say this could possibly be used to create a petrolatum replacement at the 1:4 or 1:5 level?
Kind of. The consistency will be similar, but if you are hoping to mimic the amazing occlusiveness of petrolatum, I’m afraid that can’t be done without petrolatum.
I think a blend of this and lanolin would (maybe) work.
That does sound very promising!
Newbie here. Thank you so much for doing this article!!! Exactly what I was looking for!
You’re very welcome! Happy making 🙂
I’m interested in using Cera Bellina to gel my oils in an emulsified oil cleanser (for body!) have you done a recipe like this? Or maybe with Polysorbate 80 & emulsifying wax I wouldn’t need the Cera Bellina?? I love your cleansing oil recipes… I am wanting a body cleansing oil instead of a face one. I’m done with soap!! My skin is too dry ackkkk Also do you have a designated place for recipe requests? Thanks in advance! I’ve been following your blog for a little bit now and loving it. I made the cocoa scrub nuggets as gifts this year 🙂
I haven’t done anything like that, but I like the idea! I do think you might prefer sucragel for such a project, though 🙂 I have done something like that! And I do have recipe request page 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and happy making!
Hi Marie! I know this is an older post but I recently saw a recipe for a “faux” cera Bellini wax using beeswax (31%) vinegar(7%) and glycerin(62%). I believe it may have been in a soap group – Soap making forum I think? Anyway was wondering if you’d ever heard of this? A lady in another group who posted this made it and used it but without ever using it(cera bellina) I wasnt sure how close it was to the real thing. Just something I thought was interesting!
Also, I realize this is probably the wrong place to ask this but I have yet to order sci but I do have slsa and coco betaine. In your recipes that use sci alone or with slsa and/or coco betaine can I use just the slsa until I get my sci? I really want to make some cleansers & face washes & you have such great recipes! Thanks for all the great info and recipes!
I haven’t tried it, but my first thought is “that is not going to emulsify” since there is no emulsifier in there. That said, I have managed to make pretty stable blends of glycerin and beeswax, so maybe it would work? In any event, anything made with it would no longer be anhydrous, which would create preservation challenges.
You can certainly try SLSa instead of SCI, but be aware of the different ASM values (check out this table for more info). I also have encyclopedia entries on both 🙂 If the structure of a recipe relies on a blend of the two different solid surfactants I would tread a bit more carefully, but for things where you are dissolving SCI in some CAPB it should work pretty well 🙂 Happy making!
Hi Thanks for your sharing on cera belina
Its very informative.
You mentioned about it has ability to disperse the pigmentation.
What about colloidal oatmeal? Can it still do the same if we create ointment using this product without suspending agent.
Thanks and hope to hear from u soon
Theoretically, yes. You could create an ointment using cera bellina and colloidal oatmeal. But, with colloidal oatmeal being a water soluble ingredient, your oatmeal would probably just kind of ball up on your skin and feel kind of gross. If you want the glorious and amazeball property of colloidal oatmeal in your product, have you tried this lotion yet?
I’m trying to use cera bellina to make a liquid oil cleanser. I used 46.5 grams oil infused with green tea, 3 grams cera bellina, 3 .5 grams cromollient, 0.5 essential oil, 0.5 germall plus because green tea is a mold queen and 5 grams jojoba beads. This percentage (I believe its 6% in this case not including the beads) of cera bellina thickened the oil ever so slightly. I wanted the oil to be pourable but rich with slight thickness. Am I on the right track?