Another rendition of rendering beeswax

The following description of rendering beeswax, written by Sergey in California, landed in the comments section this morning. It is very similar to something I read about once before, but since I had lost those directions, this rendition is most welcome. I particularly enjoy Sergey’s attention to detail.

Here is the complete message with only a little editing for clarity:


My technique is simple. You need:

  • honeycomb or other wax-containing materials
  • metal pot approximately 3 times bigger than amount of wax to melt
  • plastic bag made out of heavy plastic mesh, usually used for citrus (any bag made from mesh material/fabric would work)
  • rock or other heavy object
  • some sort of “clips” to keep bag closed
  • piece of wood or glass/ceramic plate, which could cover most of the pot’s bottom
  • water
  • stove

Recipe:

  1. Place wax along with the rock into the bag.
  2. Use clip(s) to close the bag. Some soft wire may work too. Just make sure that bag is tightly closed; bag should not occupy more than half of the pot’s volume.
  3. Put wooden or glass plate on the bottom of the pot; it prevents bag from damage by the heat.
  4. Place bag into the pot and add water. You should have a few inches of water on top of the bag.
  5. Slowly heat pot on the stove. Do not boil water! Use low heat! Wax will melt and float to the surface. The garbage will stay in the bag (with the rock). Wax, moving through the water, will be additionally purified.
  6. When most of the wax is at the top, remove pot from the heat and let it cool down overnight.  Do not disturb! When cold, remove nice  “wheel” of the wax from the water. Scrape off some junk from the bottom of the “wheel.”
  7. Discard the bag; keep the rock if you wish.
  8. For additional purification you could re-melt wax in the water again in a similar manner.

To make candles from the wax “wheel,” melt the “wheel” in a double boiler; do not mix wax with water this time! Good luck!

Editor’s Note: When I try this I’m planning on using cheesecloth instead of a mesh bag because it has smaller holes. I’m also thinking of using a canning rack instead of a plate at the bottom of the pan, although I’m not sure I want to sacrifice another kitchen utensil. Still thinking . . . Rusty

HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

Aram
Reply

Rusty,

I’ve tried it before with really old brood comb and passive flotation does not work very well for me. The kitchen really gets smelly in a hurry, but the cocoons just keep the wax securely attached to themselves. Some say the wax disintegrates after years of use by be queen, so old comb is useless to harvest, but I disagree. When I took the same pieces of comb and set them on fire, they were readily dripping wax that my boiling method failed to remove.

Therefore, I think that using Lusby’s method of pressing the boiling bag, as if you were squeezing cider from apple mush, is significantly more reliable. I personally have not done it, but http://vimeo.com/34638260 gives a comprehensive review. Seems to work marvelously, (using Romney’s vocab here :) . I have a cider press that uses bottle jack instead of the turning wheel. I think I will try that this year.

Sergey
Reply

Aram,

The technique in the movie is basically exactly the same as mine (well, opposite – mine is the same as theirs). It is just much-much bigger scale – they are talking about 500-3000 beehives (calling it a small production) and 60 lb of wax per run. If your very old wax comb did not melt in the pot on the stove, than it will not melt in the press shown in the movie – simply because the press has lower water temperature due to the heat lost in the large system. The difference is that I left wax to solidify on the water. In my opinion, it is much simpler and you will see a layer of debris at the bottom of the solidified on the water wax “wheel” – this debris you may scrape off and have pure wax in one step. In “press” approach, this debris is dispersed in the final wax. I am not saying that my “method” is better, but it works for me in my kitchen with minimal damage to the kitchenware. But, I learned from that video also – they claim that leftovers from water wax extraction are beneficial to plants. Also, video shows how to make your own wax foundation and attach it to the frames. Thank you for the link, it was educational.

Hello_Kitty_
Reply

If you are making candles with the rendered wax, the appeal to the synthetic mesh is it is lint-free. Cheesecloth is very linty, and if you are pressing and squeezing it, your wax will be dirty with lint. You’ll have to put the wax through a super fine mesh to clean it. I’ve purchased shallots and tomatoes-on-the-vine, where the mesh bag has pretty small holes. The bags aren’t very big so you might need several of them if you’re processing more than a frame or two. My 2 cents… HB

Rusty
Reply

Thanks, HB. I didn’t know about the lint. I’m pretty new at dealing with wax, as you can see.

Sergey
Reply

Sure, many bags could be used. Using bags with different mesh, one could regulate how clean wax will be. One thing – if mesh is too fine, it may be clogged rapidly – it prevents wax from free flow to the surface. As usual – compromise is necessary. I am using the lemon bags from Trader Joe: I love tea with my honey and lemons.

Michelle
Reply

A very wise beekeeper just told me to use old socks to strain the wax. First insert the comb into the socks. Next, tie a string around the end of the socks. Put the socks in a crockpot. Pour boiling water over them. Melt on high until the socks let all the wax out, keeping the slum gum inside. You can squeeze the socks with old tongs to get even more wax out.
Let the bowl come to room temp. Take wheel of wax out the next day. Repeat if needed.
This worked so well that my comb came out pure cream colored. I can’t wait to do this again.
I’d love to post a picture, but don’t know how.

Rusty
Reply

So Michelle, I’ve heard of this system before using various cloth items including pantyhose, socks, underwear, dishrags, old towels . . . whatever you’ve got going. But honestly, it sounds so messy I didn’t think it would work. But with your endorsement, I’m determined to give it a try.

We all would love to see a photo. Just e-mail it to me: [email protected].

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