Herbal How-To: Carnauba and Lavender Furniture Wax

In lieu of this week’s Photo Thursday (which would be a day late at this point anyway), here is the first installment in a new post series: Herbal How-To.  Unlike the other series I’ve started, this one isn’t necessarily going to recur on a weekly basis, just whenever I have an herbal recipe or technique to share.

This particular project came about because I wanted to find a good wax designed for fine wood furniture to treat my new spinning wheel, because while she is definitely in good shape her wood looks thirsty in places.  I already rubbed her lightly with jojoba oil her first day here, but wanted something more protective.  Ashford sells a spinning wheel wax, of course, but it costs about $25 per can, and I was sure I could do just as well (or better) with all the herbal products and resources available to me at my job.  I also thought a good recipe for an herbal, chemical-free fine furniture wax might be useful to some of my readers who have used (or new, for that matter) spinning wheels of their own.  As an added bonus, this recipe contains lavender essential oil, which—in addition to its relaxing effects and fabulous fragrance–is a moth deterrent, and thus perfect for using in areas where you’ll be working with wool.  (We have a very lavender-intensive household!)

I found this recipe in Herbal Housekeeping: Simple Recipes for a Naturally Clean Abode, by Sandy Maine.  It calls for only a few ingredients: 1/4 cup carnauba wax, 2 tablespoons beeswax, 1 1/4 cup olive oil (I used extra virgin), and 1 teaspoon lavender essential oil.  Carnauba wax is a hard wax from the Brazilian wax palm tree, frequently used in lipsticks and furniture waxes.

Melt the waxes over a low heat with the olive oil, stirring frequently.  (As you can see, I don’t use a double boiler, but I do stand right over my pot watching it and stirring like crazy.  You definitely don’t want to burn the wax!)

When the waxes are thoroughly melted and blended with the olive oil, remove from heat, add the lavender oil and stir.  It should look like this:

Then, before the wax begins to harden, pour it into your containers, which can be glass, plastic or tin.  Be careful pouring the hot wax, as it can burn you and is very messy;  I recommend using a funnel (which I didn’t do this time, as you can see).

Let the polish sit undisturbed until thoroughly cooled, and use as you would any furniture wax.

Oh, and one more thing: this recipe made far more wax than I had intended, so you might be happy halving it.  (This way, though, I have enough to give a tin to a friend!)

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11 thoughts on “Herbal How-To: Carnauba and Lavender Furniture Wax

    • Yesterday was her spa day, and I waxed all of her wooden parts except for the upper rim of the wheel itself where the drive band is; I read (either online or in one of the spinning books I’ve been devouring) not to wax that area or get oil on it because it could interfere with the drive band friction. I also oil her every few days, but I’ve been spinning ALOT and she’s a vintage wheel; we searched online today to try to find out how old she is, and going by her appearance she looks like the 1975 Traditional model. She spins amazingly, but needs a little extra TLC. 🙂

  1. I recently gave my wheel the spa treatment too! She had water spots all over the place (which I sanded off first) and then I put 2 coats of fresh wax on. This looks like a relatively easy wax to make. I appreciate the photo montage. Did it work well when you applied it? What about the finish? Did it buff up shiny or matte? Did you do multiple coats? I use Clapham’s Beeswax Salad Bowl Finish on mine. It’s a mineral oil and beeswax finish.

    • The wax was very easy to make, smells divine, worked great, and really brought out the glow in her wood, giving her a nice glossy finish. (Her wood is the Ashford silver beech, but with a walnut stain, and it looked pretty good when I bought her; I just wanted to protect it and bring out the beauty more.) I only applied one coat so far, but will probably do another in a few days; I’ll post pictures!

      I’d love to see your wheel; do you have photos posted online anywhere?

      • I’ve recorded your wax recipe for when I run out of what I have. I like the addition of the lavender. I would love to see what it looks like now you’ve spruced her up! No, I don’t have a blog or anything like that with photos but I could send you some via email if you’re interested? Mine’s made out of NZ silver beech as well. I think all Ashford products are?

        • Yup, all Ashford wheels are made from the silver beech, just with different finishes. I’d love to see some pictures of your wheel! My email is listed on the blog somewhere I think, but it’s wodandis at gmail dot com. Do you know what year your wheel was made? It took some searching to find out when mine was made, and I was kind of shocked to find out she’s a 1975 model, which makes her only 10 years younger than me! She’s in amazingly good shape.

      • I’ll send you some pics then! I bought my wheel new in 2008. Good for you for tracking down the year yours was made. I wonder who owned it? I collect antiques so I like speculating on the previous owners. I think it’s lovely that things can be passed down and continue to be loved and cherished. I think they accumulate that energy too.

        • I definitely agree! I think whoever owned her must have cherished her, because she’s in beautiful shape and has a wonderful energy. I had planned to cleanse a used wheel if I got one (using smudge), but didn’t feel the need with her.

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