Melting beeswax with solar power
While gardeners are processing tomatoes, we beekeepers are deep into processing hive products.
After we drained the delicious honey from the mashed up comb, we were left with a bowl full of sticky wax. We also had some random bits of burr comb we’ve collected during hive inspections. (Burr comb is comb the bees build at odd places on the frames rather than building on the foundation we provide)
In order to use the wax, we had to clean it, melt it, filter it, and transform it into a block of wax that we could store easily.
First we washed the wax by putting it in a sieve and running water through it.
Then we placed it between two paper towels and let it dry overnight.
The next day we put some water in a glass bowl (the water keeps the melted wax from sticking to the glass). Then using string (the rubber band we first tried snapped in the heat), we tied a paper towel over the bowl. The towel needs to be fairly taut across the top of the bowl to prevent it from sagging into the water. The washed and dried wax goes on top of the paper towel. This all goes into a solar wax melter, where the wax will melt and filter through the paper towel into the water below.
Making a solar wax melter (thank’s to our favorite bee blog, Linda’s Bees) is easy. Line a styrofoam cool chest with tin foil, put it in the sun, and cover it with a sheet of glass or clear acrylic. We put in an oven thermometer out of curiosity; it was a warm day, and the temperature inside the solar melter was a little over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Since beeswax melts at 145 degrees F., this was plenty hot enough.
At the end of the day, we had this lovely block of clean wax.
We’re not sure yet what we’ll do with this wax. Hand salve? Lip balm? Anyone have a good recipe to share?