Bayberry wax

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Bayberry Wax


Wax covered berries from Myrica cerifera tree

A greenish-white vegetable wax that covers the berries of small myrtle bushes, such as Myrica cerifera, native to America, Europe, and Africa. Bayberry wax, or myrtle wax, is collected by boiling the berries in water. It contains myristic acid (58%), Palmitic acid (36%) and Oleic acid (1.3%). Bayberry wax is used for soapmaking, candlemaking, and buffing metals. It has a balsam-like odor and has been used as a natural insect repellent. The tannins from the bark extracts were used medicinally.

Synonyms and Related Terms

myrtle wax (Myrica cerifera; Morella cerifera); cera del árbol de la cera (Esp.); sweet gale (Myrica gale); candleberry wax (Myrica pensylvanica); capeberry wax (Myrica cordifolia); laurel wax; ocuba wax; bayberry tallow; vegetable tallow; wax myrtle; wax-myrtle; southern wax myrtle

Bayberry bark - exterior detail
Bayberry bark - interior detail

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Iodine value = 2.9-3.9
  • Acid value = 3.5
  • Saponification value = 205-217
  • Melting Point = 40-49 C
  • Density = 0.977-0.995 g/ml
  • Refractive Index = 1.436


Properties of Natural Waxes

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 844; melting point = 40-46C, specific gravity = 0.995, saponification value = 205-212, contains 58% myristic acid, 36% palmitic acid and 1.3% oleic acid.
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • A History of Technology, Charles Singer, E.J. Holmyard, A.R. Hall (eds.), Clarendon Press, Oxford, Volume 1: From Early times to Fall of Ancient Empires, 1954
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: melting point=46.7-48.8C, density=0.985, ref. index=1.436, iodine value=2.9-3.9, acid value=3.5, saponification value=205-217
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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