It’s Texas Independence Day, and we want to celebrate by giving you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at one of our favorite Texas-based and Texas-inspired partners, The Beeswax Co. The Beeswax Co. is located in Dripping Springs, Texas, just 16 miles from our store in South Austin. For years, they have produced beautiful, 100% pure beeswax candles and wax blocks from the highest quality bee yards all across Texas.
Texas roots find a fresh start in… Texas
The Beeswax Co. was born in Texas in 1997, and passed hands from it’s original owner to a sisters-in-law partnership. After the company began to grow, the women were looking for someone to take the company to the next level. Enter Christine and Mike Flores.
Christine Flores, a 4th generation Austinite, and Mike Flores, a 2nd generation Austinite, both come from beekeeping ancestors, so taking over operations at the Beeswax Co. and bringing it to the Austin area was a no-brainer.
Christine’s great-grandfather was a vegetarian cattle rancher, who grew organic gardens and raised bees. So it’s no surprise that Christine took a strong interest in honey bees. Her great-grandfather’s legacy has had a lasting impact on the company. Christine uses the same kinds of tools he used to harvest his honey to hand finish each beeswax candle.
When the Austin/Flores family decided to take over The Beeswax Co., they jumped in with both feet and never looked back. Christine took over running the business and actually making the candles, while Mike developed and helped maintain relationships with around 15 beekeepers and farmers around Texas. He eventually started an apiary of their own, which he manages, to support the business. Since they took over operations, Christine and Mike have grown the business and now employ seven people to help with day-to-day operations.
Why Texas Beeswax?
Sourcing pure beeswax isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Legally, any wax can be labeled “pure beeswax” as long as it’s at least 51% pure. This just didn’t cut it for Christine and Mike.
“Because we are purists, we have set ourselves apart by the quality of our wax. Our mission isn’t to be the cheapest beeswax candle maker, it’s to be the highest quality, the purest quality, the finest artisan beeswax candle.”
Christine and Mike source wax from Texas beekeepers all across the state. Mike visits the sites personally to ensure the quality of the pollination, the life of the bees and the cleanliness of the facilities. They get truly hands-on, feeling and smelling the wax to ensure that it is clean and truly pure beeswax.
Beyond ensuring the quality of the product they are buying, they love working with local farmers and keepers because of the relationships they forge. The majority of the beekeepers they source from have been working with the Beeswax Co. since the beginning of the company.
“Being able to support those people who are working here [in Texas] who are pollinating our crops and bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to our grocery stores, that’s what it’s all about,” Christine said.
Another benefit of sourcing wax from Texas is variety of pollinating crops and wildflowers across the state. Each batch of wax is completely different from the last and different regions tend to carry different colors and fragrances into the wax from the fields and whatever the bees are pollinating.
“One batch of wax came in and it smelled like Skittles, so I called the farmer and said, ‘You have got to tell me what you were pollinating, because this is amazing!’ Turns out, he was pollinating strawberries.”
Why Pure Beeswax Candles?
Unfortunately, most traditional candles are made from toxic materials like paraffin, which is a byproduct - called sludge - of the oil industry. This sludge is first chemically bleached to turn it white. Then hardening agents with known carcinogens are added to help the candle hold its shape. Finally, artificial scents and colorants are added to make the candle smell and look good. The result is a candle that looks and smells great, but burns emissions and soot into your air that can cause irritation in your lungs and potentially other health hazards.
Soy wax is a better alternative, but also goes through a rigorous and chemically-laden process before becoming a candle and is rarely ever pure soy. After extraction, the wax is often bleached and hydrogenated. It can also be mixed with either paraffin or stearic acid to give it a higher melting point. The final step is adding colorant and fragrances, all chemicals that burn with the candle into your home’s air.
With 100% pure beeswax candles, it’s just that: beeswax. As Christine says, “Mother Nature did it right with beeswax.”
The process looks like this: As bees make honey, they deposit it in the honeycomb. Once the air is at a certain humidity and the comb is full, the bees cap each cell with a small piece of wax. When it’s time to harvest the honey, the beekeeper will scrape off that fine layer of wax to access the honey. This is the wax used to make candles, never the wax from the comb itself.
The wax is then separated from any honey that it may have mixed with, leaving just the raw wax. That rendered capping wax is then sent to The Beeswax Co. where it is cleaned and purified by a method which involves heating and pressurizing the wax until it passes their standard for purity. Hardeners, bleach, colorants and fragrances are never necessary with beeswax candles because they naturally hold their shape and smell like the best of Texas’s landscapes.
At the Beeswax Co, the wax is poured into all kinds of different shapes, from standard tea lights and tapers to beehive shapes and round orbs. They use 100% cotton wicks, which burn cleanly and reliably. Once the candles are poured and cooled, they are hand finished, using a hot knife - a technique inspired by Christine’s great-grandfather and a signature of The Beeswax Co.
TreeHouse + The Beeswax Co.
Besides being a healthier alternative to paraffin or soy candles for indoor air quality, beeswax is also a rapidly renewable resource and one that many beekeepers don’t have a need for. The Beeswax Co. supports hardworking Texas bees and farmers by buying the collected wax cappings and putting them to good use in the home.
It is also believed that beeswax candles put off negative ions into the air, which can decrease allergens and toxins in the air. There are so many health and environmental benefits from beeswax candles, not to mention that the wax contains hints of busy bees’ hard work and pollinators from all across our beautiful state of Texas.
If you are interested in trying out some Beeswax Co. candles for yourself, come by our store and find them in our Healthy Home department. Check out their candle care tips + burning tips to get even more life out of your candles!
We have also partnered with The Beeswax Co for a giveaway! Head over to our Instagram account to enter to win the prize package above! To enter to win, like @thebeeswaxco and @treehousehq and tag a friend in the comments! Contest closes midnight 3/2, and the winner will be chosen 3/3. Good luck!