Saturday, December 6, 2008

Beekeeping - Melting and Filtering Wax

Made my first attempt today at melting and filtering raw beeswax. This beeswax was a mixture of old and new beeswax. It also contained some larva, bees, pollen, and other 'junk'. I decided to use a double-boiler method and then filter through cheesecloth.

Beeswax before it was melted. Here you can see the beeswax before it was melted. I crushed some of it to the bottom and left some of it in bigger chunks. I wanted to see how long it would take to melt the beeswax and figured this was a good test. The bowl is hard plastic. I set it in a pot of water. To keep the Beeswax - Pot of water with canning rings.plastic from touching the pot and possibly melting I put two canning rings in the bottom of the pot and set the plastic bowl on top of these. After the water began to boil the beeswax did not begin melting for a long time. I put a large lid over the top of the beeswax to hold the heat in. This sped up the process a good bit even though it was not as fast as I would have thought.

Once the beeswax began to melt I checked it from time to time and stirred the unmelted beeswax on top into the melted beeswax in the bottom. This really helped the process as the heat just wasn't enough to melt beeswax that was too far from where the bowl contacted the water.

Beeswax - cheesecloth on bowl.Once the beeswax was melted it was time to pour. I had a cheap plastic container with doubled cheesecloth across the top. The cheesecloth was fastened with a rubber band. I've heard that it's important to pour all your beeswax at once to keep it from cooling in the cheesecloth and thus clogging it. I did this and it seemed to work well. My only issue was that there was so much trash in with the beeswax that I'm afraid it kept some beeswax from getting through. It would be better to find someway to get the major trash out first.

Beeswax that has been melted and filtered one time.Once the pouring was done I let the beeswax cool. It solidified pretty quickly but it does take a long time for it to really harden. The beeswax looks good after this one pouring but I can tell there is pollen and some other small solids in it. We are most likely going to make a candle out of it this round so this isn't a major concern.

Since I use top bar hives I should have a good bit of wax and am really interesting in making beeswax candles, lip balm, and other items. Overall I'm pretty pleased with this first go around.

5 comments:

  1. I've added a bit of water to the beeswax when I was melting it, that way the dreck will be at the bottom of the wax - you just lift the wax scrape off the dreck and if you want, remelt and refilter it. If you want truly clean wax you can use a coffee filter, but as you've heard, pour it fast through so you don't lose much to the filter.

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  2. Rendering wax can be fun. I used to use a food stainer screen to get the junk out but finally gave that up and now just pour it out in a somewhat narrow, deep container and after it cools extract the plug and scrape or cut off the junk end. Usually get a fairly clean piece of wax and after a few more "dirty" chunks are obtained I do it all over again. If you do the melting outdoors over a Coleman stove on a nice warm, sunny, bee day, you'll learn all about how well they pick up the odor from a distance. Maybe you have experience in that already :-)

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  3. I use and old $2 garage sale crock pot and melt it twice.

    First time I place about 1 inch of water in the crock pot and pack it full of wax and place lid on and heat on low or med depending on pot. Takes 4-5 hours to melt a packed full load and really leaves a nice smell in the air.
    I then turn off pot and let wax cool fast as I can so wax cracks. If fall or winter set pot outside to cool and it cools in no times and wax cracks nicely. I then remove the clean harden wax and pour out waterand trash. 95% of the trash will settle in the water and the clean wax floats.

    Second time I heat just the wax in the same pot with no water on low heat. I have 2 pots I use. One is to warm on low with lid so I leave lid off of it. The other needs the lid on to melt on low. I suppose it is due to age and type of burner in the pot. then once wax is melted I pour either through a coffee filter or an old sweat shirt. By old I mean a old cheap one, The cheap thin ones as a nice thicker one is toslow to filter.

    Using this method I get some of the cleanest wax I have seen.

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  4. Problem is that YellowJacket cup.. Get rid of it and your life will be golden. (Now is that Old Gold or Vegas Gold or)

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