Thursday, July 15, 2010

Capturing Wax

After the crush and strain process we use to collect honey we are left with some wax as a by product. At first we were using most of the wax to paint new starter strips (the strips of wood at the top of a frame that we let the bees draw their own comb from) Now we are beginning to slowly amass a collection of wax we can use for other purposes like candles, wood polish, lip balms, etc.

Once we've filtered the honey out of the crushed comb we end up with a bag of crumbly wax which is covered in honey. I rinse this off in the faucet with hot water till it's clean as I can get it.

I used to wring it out and squeeze it into a ball at this point to get as much water out as possible but now I've found that a little water in the mix can actually be useful.

Next I dump the wax into our handy little double boiler. This was a gift at a white elephant Christmas exchange that has become our dedicated wax melter. It's just the right size and has a Teflon coating which makes clean up easy.

I have an old clear coffee cup that is also dedicated to the bee's wax collection. A scrap of metal screen serves as the strainer. You wouldn't want to use your kitchen strainer for this because there is residual wax that collects on it which is darn near impossible to completely remove without solvents.

Here's the hot wax poured into the cup, still cooling. that brown stripe at the bottom is water. I have found that a little water serves a useful function in that the heavier particles that make it through the screen sink to this area and don't end up in the wax.

The last step (I didn't get a picture of this one) is, once the wax has cooled to near room temperature, put the cup in the freezer. This is the easiest way to get the wax to release from the cup. The wax contracts and the water expands as it freezes so all you have to do is slip a knife between the edge of the wax, down to the icy sludge at the bottom and it comes right out. You could probably also just set it on the counter till the ice melts but I haven't had the patience for that yet.

Rinse the ice off the bottom with hot water or just leave it in the sink till it goes a way (again patience) and you have a nice clean plug of beeswax.

cross posted at the backward beekeepers blog:

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I bookmarked in my bees folder and my how-to folder. Good info- thanks!


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