How to make your own Encaustic Medium | Instructions & Recipes

Pre-made encaustic medium can readily be purchased but you will save money if you make it yourself. Many artists buy the raw materials and make their own. Here’s what you need to know to make your own encaustic wax medium – materials and step-by-step instructions.

What is encaustic medium?

Encaustic medium is made with filtered beeswax and damar resin crystals. Synthetic waxes are commercially available, but beeswax is the type of wax that is traditionally used for encaustic art.

Natural beeswax:

In its natural state beeswax is yellow. Bee pollen gives natural beeswax its yellow colour.

Refined, filtered or bleached beeswax:

White beeswax has been mechanically processed to filter out the bee pollen and turn it white.

Damar (or Dammar) resin crystals

Damar resin is a hard natural tree resin sourced from trees in East Asia and India. It is a sticky sap that oozes from the tree, the trees are not damaged by the extraction process. To prepare encaustic medium, damar resin crystals are added to beeswax. Do not use damar varnish.

The addition of damar resin crystals makes the medium more durable than beeswax alone and also serves to harden it and raise its melting temperature. Adding damar resin allows the encaustic painting to be buffed to a higher, more translucent sheen and helps prevent bloom (a white cloud on the surface).

Encaustic medium is available to buy in a variety of forms, as:

  • ready-to-use encaustic paints (medium is premixed with colour pigment) in tins, blocks or sticks
  • pre-made plain natural or refined encaustic medium to which you can add oil paint/pigment for colour
  • raw materials (damar resin crystals and beeswax) to make your own encaustic medium —then adding oil paint or pigment for colour as you work

Equipment Needed to make Encaustic Medium

In addition to beeswax and damar resin crystals, you will need the following equipment. Silicone utensils work best.

  1. a deep heated vessel — i.e. an electric skillet or crock pot, electric palette, grill or griddle with a pan. Have a look at a thrift store — I bought mine for $7
  2. a thermometer to test the accuracy of your skillet
  3. a stirrer: wooden paint stick, silicone spoon, large natural brush
  4. to filter the medium you also need
    • a tight-weave cloth such as microfiber cloths, cotton muslin or flannel sheets. If using cheesecloth, as in the video below, make sure you use multiple layers thick enough to capture all of the particulate matter.
    • a large container – silicone, metal or plastic
    • rubber bands to hold the cloth over the top of the container
  5. a silicone soup ladle
  6. silicone muffin cups

Recipe to make your own Encaustic medium

There is no standard encaustic medium recipe. Different artists and manufacturers will use a different ratio of damar to beeswax.

I purchase my encaustic beeswax & damar from Waxworks Encaustics. They use a 5:1 ratio of wax to damar resin crystals.

In the video below, artist Susan Crouse-Kemp uses 8 parts of filtered beeswax to one part damar resin crystals. The 8:1 ratio is common.

How to make your own Encaustic Medium

Steps-by-Step Instructions:

Important: never leave the skillet unattended during this process. Do this in a properly ventilated studio.

  1. Measure the beeswax and damar resin in the quantities specified in your recipe (Waxworks Encaustics damar/beeswax comes premeasured 🙂 ).
  2. Heat your skillet to 220°F (never above). Use a thermometer, don’t rely solely on the skillet temperature control.
  3. I wear disposable gloves and crush the damar resin crystals in a Ziploc bag with a hammer to speed up the melting process.
  4. Some people melt the beeswax first, others melt the damar first with just a bit of beeswax, still, others put them in together. Experiment to see how you like to do it. The damar will be very sticky.
  5. Stir the mixture until the damar resin crystals and wax are combined.
  6. If you are going to strain the medium you will need to ladle it through a cloth into a prepared container. You can use elastic bands to hold cheesecloth in place over your container.
  7. Once filtered you can ladle the medium into the muffin cups.
  8. Allow the medium to cool then pop them out.
  9. Sediment will have collected on the bottom of the pucks. You can heat the bottom of the puck and then scrape off the dirty wax and discard it.

Video tutorial:

Ready to get started? Buy filtered beeswax and damar resin here.

About Ruth Maude

I enjoy experimenting with a variety of encaustic materials, techniques and tools. Everything I learn pushes my creative journey in new directions. I share what I've learned with other artists through my blog All Things Encaustic and encaustic workshops in Ontario.

Visit My Website
View All Posts
Purchase premade encaustic medium or make your own. Buy damar resin crystals & filtered beeswax and follow this making encaustic medium tutorial.

10 thoughts on “How to make your own Encaustic Medium | Instructions & Recipes


  1. Ruth
    Nice article but even better you live in my home away from home Toronto I live in Texas. Last year I rented a house on the islands to watch the leaves change, great time. Came back with over 6000 pictures to begging the process of my new series. I’ve worked in encaustic for over 25 years now love every minuet of it always a learning experience almost like opening presents Christmas Day. My site is down for now, my web designer is on his way from Florida to spend the week with me to get it up and going … If ya friend me on face book you’ll see many of my works there And if ya look hard enough I think there is a documentary from Texas Country Reporter if ya can’t find it there go to YouTube and type in Texas country reporter and under search type beeswax artist From that you’ll see my inturpetation of encaustic I also use resin along with it to give it an even deeper effect

    Just wanted to say nice article Reason being now everyone has to go to the 1000% markup art store Grin. I buy thousands of pounds a year from local bee keepers
    Enjoy the weather up there I’m sure everyone is coming out of hibernation right about now grin
    Always Darrell


    1. Thanks for commenting Darrell, it’s nice to know someone is reading the blog 🙂 Prepared medium is convenient and perfect for beginners but at some point every serious artist will want to make encaustic medium on their own, whether to save money or to just as part of the artistic process.


  2. Hi,

    My ratio on medium is 4 beeswax and 1 damar resin crystal, but I still can marking on the surface easily after made it, means is still not too hard. Is that ok?


  3. Can I just dip my paper into the medium before it dries?

    Thank you


  4. Can you help? I made medium with some pigments and result is fine. But surface isnť smooth on all sides. And on the underside is always little bit different shade, do you know why?
    Photo is here: https://imgur.com/a/qyNJz

    (sorry for my english)


    1. I also have the same problem… I did a batch of blue and purple and it is quite translucent and the top of the cake I made is pale versus the store bought medium with color in it (Enkaustic version). Any hints on creating a more opaque medium? I use beeswax and damar resin and add oil paint. are there other pigments or paints that can be added?

      Thank you in advance.


      1. You wax may be too hot when you pour it. Once everything is melted together turn the heat off and start mixing in your pigment. Mix until the temperature falls to around 150 degrees, then pour into your molds. This will help prevent the pigment from settling in the wax before it hardens. Hope that helped!


        1. Also – try using powdered pigments instead of oil paints. It will take a lot of pigment to make an opaque paint. I just made some blue paint sticks last night and used 50g of pigment to 250ml of homemade medium. This makes a very vibrant blue. You’ll want to add powdered pigment slowly, and only once the wax has cooled to under 200 degrees. This will prevent clumps and discoloration.


  5. Hi Ruth,

    I have a really dumb question. I’m just getting started and I don’t have a thermometer. I suspect the problem I’m having though, relates to temperature. When I put the wax on my gessoed cradle board it is yellow and doesn’t lie flat – brush strokes, bubbles, bumps. I heated the board and that helped a little with the texture but I still am seeing a very yellow cast to the medium. I thought I’d through out this batch of medium and start over – with a thermometer. Do you think that’s my problem? Did I get it too hot?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *