The Chemistry of Burt's Beeswax Chapstick


Burt’s Beeswax is a well known brand of cosmetic products, their most famous being their chapstick. It is composed of beeswax, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, lanolin, rosemary leaf extract, soybean oil, peppermint oil, and canola oil. I chose Burt’s Beeswax chapstick because of its unique feeling when it is worn. Also being my favorite type of chapstick, I was curious on how it was made. Burt’s chapstick affects my life by its reliability as lip moisturizer that can help improve chapped and cracked skin.Composition of ...These are the components found in Burt’s Beeswax Chapstick. They have been broken down into the different, distinct parts that combine together to form each components. Most of the components consist of acids from esters, polyester, and hydroxy esters. Each component is followed by the chemical formulas that builds Burt’s Beeswax Chapstick.

    • Cera alba (Beeswax)
      • C15H31COC30H61
      • Palmitic Acid: C16H32O2
      • Palmitoleic Acid: C16H30O2
      • Oleic Acid: C18H34O2
    • Cocos nucifera (Coconut) oil
      • Lauric Acid: C12H24O2
      • Myristic Acid: C14H28O2
      • Caprylic Acid: C8H15O2
      • Capric Acid: C10H20O2
      • Caproic Acid: C6H12O2
      • Palmitic Acid: C16H32O2
      • Oleic Acid: C18H34O2
      • Palmitoleic Acid: C16H30O2
      • Linoleic Acid: C18H32O2
      • Linolenic Acid: C18H30O2
      • Stearic Acid: C18H36O2
    • Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil
      • Palmitic Acid:C16H32O2
      • Stearic Acid: C18H36O2
      • Oleic Acid: C18H34O2
      • Linoleic Acid: C18H32O2
      • Linolenic Acid: C18H30O2
      • Arachidic Acid: C20H40O2
      • Behenic Acid: C22H44O2
    • Mentha piperita (peppermint) Oil
      • C62H108O7
    • Lanolin (wool grease/wax)
    • tocopherol rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) Leaf Extract
      • Alpha Pinene: C10H16
      • Borneol: C10H18O
      • Beta Pinene: C10H16
      • Camphor: C10H16O
      • Bornyl Acetate: C12H20O2
      • Camphene: C10H16
      • Cineole: C10H18O
      • Limonene: C10H16
    • Glycine soja (soybean) Oil
      • Oleic Acid: C18H34O2
      • Linoleic Acid: C18H32O2
      • Stearic Acid: C18H36O2
      • Palmitic Acid: C16H32O2
    • Canola Oil (Huile de colza)

Erucic Acid: C22H42O2

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The two main components in Burt’s Beeswax Chapstick are Cera Alba (Beeswax) and Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil.

    • Beeswax = C15H31COC30H61

Another name for this well known substance is Cera Alba. It is composed of mostly palmitic acid, oleic acid, and palmitoleic acid. This naturally occurring wax is created by honey bees of the Apis genus through secretion. The glands produce a substance that is high in proteins. The bees use the secretion to build their hives, that then also holds the honey they create. The wax the Burt’s Bees company uses comes from bees who migrated from Africa to Europe and Asia and then the North America. Some other products made with beeswax include lotion, moisturizers, wood finishes, hand creams, and as a waterproofer.

    • Peppermint Oil = C62H108O7

Peppermint oil is a commonly used essential oil. Its scientific name in Mentha Piperita oil. It is known for its calming, soothing effects. Peppermint used in peppermint oil is a hybrid between spearmint and watermint. It originally was grown in Europe and the Middle East. Now it has spread to grow in most regions in the most parts of the world. Some other common uses for peppermint oil include topical creams for relieving muscle pains, flavoring in gums and mints, and allergy relief.

Chemistry's Role

The largest component found in Burt’s Beeswax Chapstick is Beeswax. It is naturally occurring substance that is obtained by melting honeycombs. Honeycombs are hexagon shaped structures that are used to store honey and larva. When the wax is melted impurities are removed and the product is now ready for manufacturing. Melting the beeswax breaks the bonds between the atoms of beeswax. Beeswax has a naturally rigid structure. Because its chemical makeup is stable, beeswax stays chemically constant. Therefore, melting the wax allows for it to be reshaped to fit within the tubes. Melting also allows for other substances to be added to the beeswax such as peppermint oil, rosemary leaf extract, and other oils. Beeswax is used because of its resistance to water. The two main types of chemical compounds found in beeswax are monoesters and hydrocarbons. Both of these substances have non-polar bonds that hold them together. Water on the other hand is bonded polarly. The polar and nonpolar bonds dis tract each other. Therefore, when beeswax is place on the lips, water that is already found within them remains.This is due to the nonpolar bonds in the beeswax hitting the polar bonds of the water, sending the water molecules back into lips.

The other well known part of Burt’s Beeswax chapstick is peppermint oil. This oil gives the chapstick its minty, soothing quality. The oil in made in labs by using steam distillation of the peppermint plant. The water used in this process breaks down the plant into a substance that can be added to the oil used. Peppermint oil mostly consists of menthol and menthone. It also is composed of many hydrogens and carbons. Peppermint oil is also built with lipids or fatty acids. This leaves the peppermint oil consisting of nonpolar bonds. Similar to beeswax, the nonpolar bonds in the oil repel the polar water atoms. This allows for more moisture to be locked into the skin; therefore leading to the reason to use it within the chapstick. Peppermint oil also contains terpenoid. These natural organic chemicals are used for their aromatic scents, another reason why they are used in cosmetic products. When the peppermint oil is added to the beeswax, it is not chemically changed, but the repulsion of water is greater.

Background Research

The Burt’s Beeswax Company was founded by Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby in Maine in 1984. Burt Shavitz started the company by producing candles from the wax produces by his honey bees. It slowly progressed into cosmetic products, such as chap sticks, lotions, and slavs. Their first products were sold locally at school fairs and craft shows. It first became popular after a boutique in New York, Zona, began selling it.

In 1993, Shavitz was forced to sell his claim of the company to Roxanne Quimby. She then moved the company’s headquarters to North Carolina. By 1998, Burt’s Bees began selling to many more companies, such as wholesale foods and Cracker Barrels. The Burt’s Beeswax Company was sold to the Clorox Company in 2007. It has now become popular worldwide and is sold in many grocery and drug stores.


    • Information on the founder and company itself

    • Ingredients list

    • Properties of Esters

    • Properties of Beeswax
    • Chemical formula of beeswax

    • Basic description of lanolin
    • Uses of lanolin

    • Chemical Formula of Lauric Acid (Component of Coconut Oil)

    • Sunflower Seed Oil Components

    • Chemical Formula of Myristic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Caprylic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Decanoic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Hexanoic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Palmitic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Oleic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Palmitoleic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Linolenic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Stearic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Arachidic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Behenic Acid

    • Chemical Formula of Peppermint Oil

    • Chemical Formula of Rosemary Oil

    • Chemical Formula of Alpha Pinene

    • Chemical Formula of Borneol

    • Chemical Formula of Beta Pinene

    • Chemical Formula of Camphor

    • Chemical Formula of Bornyl Acetate

    • Chemical Formula of Camphene

    • Chemical Formula of Cineole

    • Chemical Formula of Limonene

    • Components of Soybean Oil

    • Composition of Canola Oil

    • Basic components of beeswax and how it is processed

    • Chemical Stability of beeswax
    • Chemical characteristics (insoluble in water)

    • Uses in cosmetics, and proteins (beeswax)

    • Chemistry of peppermint oil

    • How melting effects a substance

About the Author

Madison Duneman is a Junior at Senior High School in Billings Montana. Madison partakes in a full honors schedule while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Her extracurriculars includes orchestra, piano, dance, Spanish Club. She also actively participates in students government through Student Council, Senior Advocates, and Key Club. Madison will be graduating in the spring of 2018. She plans on pursuing a double majors in International Relations and Spanish Studies.