Honeybees have to consume 8 oz. of honey to produce just 1 oz. of beeswax. Needless to say, it is valuable and should be treated like the worthy commodity that it is. You will probably notice as you collect wax from your frames (via scraping burr comb, uncapping honey frames, ect.) that the wax varies in color and purity. Some beeswax, like that which you scrape off honey frames to release the honey stores, is clean and white.
Other wax that builds up in undesired places (known as burr comb) can often have pupal casing in it from where brood previously was laid. This causes the wax to have a darker appearance that can be interpreted as dirtier.
Both variations of wax can be melted down and filtered to result in beautiful, golden, silky, and fragrant beeswax ready to be used for a craft project. Check out my blog on how to save your wax and melt it.
Melted wax is hot, has a low viscosity, and can be dangerous if spilled onto your skin. Work carefully!
It forms a solid brick once cooled and hardened.
This results in separated wax. The honey and bee parts/gunk (known as slumgum) sits at the bottom and the cooled/hardened wax rests on top. This is much like the chicken noodle soup you put in the fridge for leftovers. The liquid soup stays on the bottom, but the fat particles (lipids) solidify on top. Wax is a lipid and acts in the same manner.
Your next step is to filter the wax to get all the slum gum, bee legs, wings, and other particles out of the beeswax to result in a pure and clean product. There’s multiple ways to do this, but here is one method worth trying:
- Take your solid brick of beeswax and pry it out of the container. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the honey and slumgum off of the bottom.
- Run the solid brick under hot water to dissolve the rest of the honey stuck to the brick.
- Put water in the bottom of a double boiler and turn it on low. Don’t use one you plan to use for food. Also, don’t go buy one. You can easily makeshift one at home! Take a large stock pot and find something that will fit inside of it – another cheap/old bowl, a milk jug that you secure to the side of the pot, a large pyrex or corningware container you don’t often use, ect…. lots of options!)
- Make sure the water in the bottom is touching the upper bowl, but not at risk for boiling over.
- Place your wax in the upper container and keep an eye on it! Don’t leave it unattended.
- Maintain watch over the wax and prepare your next container for filtering. Get an old yogurt, sour cream, or other cheap container and stretch a layer of panty hose over it. Secure it with a tight knot. Panty hose serves as a great filter because it has a fine weave and stretches easily over just about any shaped container.
- Turn off the stove once it is melted and carefully take your upper container (use oven mitts if needed) and slowly pour the wax over the panty hose into your yogurt container. It is helpful to have a garbage bag underneath any work surface in the case that you spill some wax (which is likely!)
- Let the wax solidify, toss the panty hose. Presto!
The pliable yogurt container allows you to pull back the sides and release the solid and clean filtered wax! This is now ready to use for many craft projects. Check out future blogs for ideas!The pliable lasagna pan allows you to pull back the sides and release the solid and clean filtered wax! This is now ready to use for many craft projects. Check out future blogs for ideas!
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!