Beeswax crayons offer a more natural alternative to traditional paraffin-based crayons.
Crayons made with beeswax are long lasting and durable, and the natural transparency of the beeswax reveals rich and vibrant colors as the crayons glide buttery-smooth over paper.
They smell good, too!
Crayons have long been a favorite of children.
Whether they are transforming the pasty-white pages of a coloring book into life-like (or not!) images, or letting their imaginations run rampant with their own free-form creations on a blank page, children LOVE to color!
And coloring is a wonderful pastime for children; it’s far from just mindless fun.
Coloring helps to solidify their understanding of the natural world, provides a creative outlet for their imaginations, and even helps to fine-tune the development of their motor skills.
But most crayons are made primarily from paraffin, which is derived from petroleum.
In fact, the most popular brand of crayons, Crayola crayons, is made “primarily from paraffin wax and color pigment.” (Crayola chooses not to reveal the exact ingredients of their crayons due to the proprietary nature of their product.)
Petroleum-based crayons most likely are perfectly safe. But if you’d like an alternative for your child, consider beeswax crayons.
You can buy crayons that are made primarily with beeswax, or you might want to try making crayons yourself.
Now, just to be upfront: I’ve never made homemade crayons myself, so I offer no guarantees about how they’ll turn out.
But before writing this page, I spent quite a bit of time researching the making of homemade crayons with beeswax, and the process is pretty simple.
You just combine equal parts of melted beeswax and soap (grated or flakes – glycerin soap might make for harder crayons), and then color the mix with artist’s pigment or – a safer alternative for children – concentrated food coloring. Paste food coloring will probably work better than liquid food coloring.
Beeswax is very flammable, so be careful when you’re melting it. It’s best to use a double boiler for melting beeswax.
Using a double boiler provides even heating while avoiding the isolated hot spots that could reach the point of flammability. And using a double boiler also limits the maximum heat to the boiling temperature of water (You won’t need it that hot to melt your beeswax, though. Beeswax melts at about 150 degrees F.).
I’d recommend using an old pan for melting the beeswax, because it will be very difficult to get all of the beeswax cleaned off after you’re finished. Alternatively, melt the beeswax in a clean can placed in a pot of boiling water.
Once the beeswax is melted, add the soap, stir until the soap is melted, add the coloring, and then pour into molds.
You can use candy molds, soap molds, ice cube trays – whatever type of mold you desire. Or you can fashion homemade molds using aluminum foil. Lubricate the molds with an oil of some sort, like olive oil, so that the crayons will release cleanly from the molds.
Alternative ingredients for making beeswax crayons: 2 parts beeswax, 1 part talcum powder, coloring.
If you'll need to buy beeswax for making homemade crayons, you might want to read some tips for buying beeswax.
If you’re not the crafty sort (or would just rather not bother), you can purchase beeswax crayons from Stockmar rather than make them.
Stockmar is dedicated to producing non-toxic products, and their beeswax crayons are very popular.
All of the ingredients that go into their crayons are tested for the following contaminants (click here if you’d like to read more about their testing program):
Be aware, though, that Stockmar crayons do contain 10% paraffin. I contacted the company to verify this, and was told that the small amount of paraffin is necessary to prevent stickiness in the crayons (a problem you might have with the homemade crayons).
As an aside, another great beeswax-based product for kids is Stockmar’s modeling beeswax.
Whether you make ‘em or buy ‘em, beeswax crayons might be the very best way for your kids to enjoy the delightful childhood activity of coloring.
They’re great for adult artists, too!