I thought I posted this in the fall, when we processed our wax, but apparently I missed it. I still haven’t got around to using all our wax but hopefully this year I get started on some projects that require it.
As well as processing honey this year, we also processed bee wax. We processed a little last year from our cuttings but this year we had a bunch of old frames we had to take apart so we had a lot of wax and it seemed like a waste to just throw it out. Rendering bees wax isn’t that hard – but it is a messy job that requires dedicated equipment (because wax does not easily come out of anything). I found this website a good reference, although I didn’t follow her method exactly. We had a lot of wax, so it took more than one round to get it all melted down. I did process my honey wax as well and found it didn’t make much of a mess.
What you need: two large pots that you are willing to never use again for anything, some cheese cloth, a few paper milk cartons, a mesh strainer.
What you do:
1. I found an old canning pot in the basement, and I threw in all the chunks of wax it could fit. We’d busted up some old frames so there were a few pieces of wire in there that I picked out as I found them. Then I topped it up with water and heated it on the stove until the wax was completely melted. This took a while, but I was able to leave it to simmer and do other things.
2. Because the wax I was using was pretty dirty, I planned to refine it in three meltings so I let it cool down over night in the pot I had melted it in and then pulled off the hard wax cap. I did this first rendering step for all of our wax before I moved on so I stored the melted wax in a plastic bag until it was all ready. Any slum-gum that was left in the pot I just threw into the compost. I added new water to the pot each time, but didn’t worry about getting all the wax out every time as it was just going to be melted again.
3. When all our wax had gone through the first stage, I placed all the wax back into the pot and topped it up with water. Not all the wax fit, but I just kept adding fresh pieces as it melted down. When all the wax was liquid again, I lined an old mesh strainer with cheese cloth and poured the melted wax/water mixture through it into some old ice-cream containers.
4. The wax hardened up over night and I was able to lift the hardened wax off the top of the water by bending the containers. I placed this wax into another pot (no water) and heated it gently on the stove until the wax was all liquid.
5. I used my same mesh strainer again (different cheese cloth) and poured the melted wax through it into some milk cartons that I’d cut the tops off of. I let the wax cool overnight in the cartons, and then I was able to just peel away the cartons.
We ended up with about 6 L of wax which is tons. Jon likes to make a bees wax and mineral oil paste to finish wood products and I plan to use some of the bees wax in some arts and crafts projects. Until we get to it, I’ve stored it in our basement where I catch a whiff of it when I open our honey cupboards.