Processing Your Beeswax
Processing Your Beeswax From Cappings
by Charles Lorence
Do not render old brood comb as they harbor many toxins that have been used by beekeepers to control mites and foulbrood diseases. The best thing to do with old wax frames is to burn them!
- After cappings are removed from comb, they are packed into 30 gallon plastic garbage containers (never used for garbage)
- From these containers, about 2 1/2 gallons of cappings are placed into the solar wax melter at one time
- Wax melter should be facing south in a protected area, away from wind and shade of trees
- The most effective time for melting wax is from the first of May to the first of October. The best time of the day is from 11 am until about 230pm
- In the wax extractor, a pan is located on top of a piece of insulation board. I have found that 3/4″ particle ceiling tile works as a good insulation base on the bottom. The pan that I use is made of galvanized metal and is about 2 1/2 inches deep with 2 openings cut at the bottom of the slope for draining into bread pan containers.
- A 1/2″ mesh hardware cloth is laid in the galvanized pan. A V-fold creating a damn is made at the bottom near the openings. This will prevent any residue or sludge from sliding down over the edge and into the reservoir pans.
- On top of the hardware cloth mesh, we place a double layer of cheese cloth or nylon sheer curtain fabric. Even nylon stockings work well to filter the wax from the propolis and other debris
Sun-Rendered Cakes – First Refining
- Let cakes of beeswax harden over night
- Since the wax shrinks 10% upon cooling, it will pull away from the sides of the pan. You may help this process by taking a dinner fork, sliding it under the cake, and pulling up to fully release it.
- After the cake comes out of the pan, there will be residual honey in the bottom of the pan. All of the wax will have solidified at the top.
- If your solar melter is kept clean and meticulous, you can use this honey for bakery grade honey or for feeding back in small quantities to the bees.
- The bottom of the cake of wax that was removed will have impurities locked into it.
- I run this under hot water to remove any residual honey from the cake and will soften the beeswax enough to scrape it with a serving spoon. You should be able to remove 99% of any debris that clings to the botom of the cake. Keep this and render it another time.
Second / Final Refining
- In a 2 quart Pyrex glass measuring container, put broken up blocks of wax
- Place Pyrex container into a large saucepan with about 8-10 ounces of water (keep water about 1″ from top of saucepan after the Pyrex container has been placed inside the hot water bath)
- Place double boiler set-up onto a hot plate or stove burner and turn burner to low heat
- Allow max to melt slowly (170-200 F) until all wax is liquefied (about 1 1/2″ hours for a full container)
- When wax is totally liquefied (no off-color chunks remaining at the bottom) remove from heat
- Let stand in a visible location until the color of the wax starts to turn a buttery-yellow at the bottom of the container
- Pour wax off into clean-silicone-sprayed tempered-steel bread pans or into any other figurine or wax molds desired
- Pour wax within 1/4″ from the top of bread pan if you want 3lb blocks. Do not pour all the way to the bottom of the glass container – there may be some residue left in the bottom wax
- Let wax cool until a skin forms across the top of the liquid wax
- Cover wax pans with old bath towels to retain the heat and prevent the blocks from cracking (wax must cool very slowly)
- After cooling overnight, remove blocks of wax from pans
- To slow down the bloom process, wrap beeswax blocks in plastic wrap and store in a warm location (70-75 F)
- Wax should sell for about $5 /lb