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The saponification value is lower (3–5) for European beeswax, and higher (8–9) for Oriental types.
Beeswax has a relatively low melting point range of 62 °C to 64 °C (144 °F to 147 °F). When natural beeswax is cold it is brittle, at room temperature it is tenacious, its fracture is dry and granular, it also softens at human body temperature.
As with petroleum waxes, it may be softened by dilution with mineral oil or vegetable oil to make it more workable at room temperature.
Due to the impurities, the wax must be rendered before further use. The wax may be clarified further by heating in water.
Soft gelatin capsules and tablet coatings may also use E901.
Beeswax is also a common ingredient of natural chewing gum.
Yellow beeswax is the crude product obtained from the honeycomb, white beeswax is bleached or filtered yellow beeswax, In food preparation, it is used as a coating for cheese; by sealing out the air, protection is given against spoilage (mold growth).
Beeswax may also be used as a food additive E901, in small quantities acting as a glazing agent, which serves to prevent water loss, or used to provide surface protection for some fruits.