A few photos of my solar wax melter were placed in the 'briefcase' section of my yahoo profile today.
I use cheese cloth for the "filter" and I ran the wax through twice to get it as clean as you see in the final photo - ready to make candles now. The used cheese cloth makes for an excellent fire place starter.
I also put about an inch or two of water in the catch pan. The wax floats on top of the water and becomes solid there (after cooling) and the water makes it easy to remove the wax cake.
I really liked my solar wax melter but it had a major design flaw that should not be repeated. The internal pan was made out of sheet metal which really discolored the wax.
Wax that should have been a very light lemon yellow would come out a darker browner-greenish yellow. When I switched back to melting my wax in an enamel pot the light yellow color returned.
Next design, I will use aluminum rather than the common galvanized iron.
I like your use of the aluminum cookie sheet. It could solved my problems without much of a rebuild and provides a handy way to remove the slum with making such a mess in the melter.
[This message has been edited by BWrangler (edited July 20, 2003).]
I use an old, long aluminum bread pan to collect my melted wax - I haven't noticed any discolouration of the wax with it.
The aluminum cookie sheets were actually what I use for 'drip pans' when I'm extracting - to keep the supers from dripping honey onto the floor. They are wide enough for a super to fit into. So I just got the idea to put the wax on it. And yes it makes for easy cleanup of the slum gum - I just take a hive tool and scrape it off the cookie sheet.
Hi texas Bee Guy
Looks like your SWM is made from sheet metal? how did you form it? Did you use a single pane of glass or 2? (what thickness?)
It was all much easier than that. It's made from old 1/4-inch sheets of plywood, painted black. The metal you see is for added sun/heat reflection and was from a roll of metal flashing (like roofers use) - minimal cutting with tin snips and stapled in place. The whole thing was then mounted on a couple of old (salvaged) lawnmower wheels. It's deep enough to hold (vertically) deep/brood frames - where you can see I've put screws in the two side rails for proper spacing. The glass is a single sheet of plexiglas (cheapest I could find) - this works fine here in hell...err..., I mean, Texas during the summer months. I do have to keep the thing turned, facing the sun as it moves across the sky (usually two or three repositions during the day) but during the course of a day, it will melt even the biggest load of wax. Not shown in any photos is a kind of 'slum gum' catcher - helps with clean up. It is a sheet of hardware cloth (wire mesh) folded kinda accordion style, about an inch thick with many multiple folds. I set this in the aluminum 'cookie sheet' and then put the dirty wax on it. The beeswax melts (drips down onto the cookie sheet) leaving most of the slum gum behind, stuck to the wire mesh. After it cools, I just knock the wire mesh around and/or clean it with my hive tool a little and it's ready for next use (I don't spend a lot of time cleaning it - it's just not necessary). I do tend to scrap the cookie sheet clean after each use which doesn't take a long time to clean up.
Much appreciated and very helpful! Think I'm gonna make me one of these things. I read / heard somewhere that an old pair of nylons makes a good filter...
As a matter of fact, I use a pair of nylons to filter my wax. I use the cheap aluminum disposable pans to pour my wax into after I slide the entire pan into the leg of a pair of nylons. That way, the filter always stays in place. It works great for me. Also, as one area gets clogged with debris, simply spin the pan around a little in the leg to get a clean area of filter. I would think that the same theory would work well inside the solar melter.
Grease or shortening filters make the best final filter for hot beeswax that I have found. They will take out debris that will foul a beeswax candles wick.
I purchased 50 of them for about $7 at a commercial kitchen supply store.
I have some really grubby old frames that I'd rather not try to use again for fear of stressing the girls. I am a bit concerned about the "grunge to wax ratio" and the most effective way to try to maximize how much way I get. TxBeeGuy's idea of a hardware cloth "prefilter" and then a couple layers of nylons should do it/ Seems like those teflon loaf pans would be perfect for making ingots...
>I have some really grubby old frames that I'd rather not try to use again for fear of stressing the girls.
In what way?
>I am a bit concerned about the "grunge to wax ratio"
grunge as in when you extract the wax? You won't get any significant amount of wax from old brood. I'd keep all the brood comb seperate from the burr, cappings and other white comb because it will not only darken it, but will actually lose some of the wax because of the "grunge". Then you also have more pollen in the brood comb.
>and the most effective way to try to maximize how much way I get.
If you really want to maximize it, you need a colander with the wooden "plunger" to press out the cocoons for the first time through, because they will be full of wax and difficult to seperate. Then come back and filter the wax.
>TxBeeGuy's idea of a hardware cloth "prefilter" and then a couple layers of nylons should do it
I run them through a cheap seive from the grocery store first. Then pour it back in the pan and run it through something smaller. The first time through you can try to force it through. The final time through you don't want to push the dirt through.
> Seems like those teflon loaf pans would be perfect for making ingots...
Never tried teflon. I like the rubbermaid square plastic tubs. They are pretty easy to pop loose. If you make sure there's a little water in the bottom then it doesn't stick to the bottom.
The teflon 'bread pans' work great - I've used them before in my solar wax melter. The aluminum bread pan I use now it basically the same thing, only larger. Putting a little water in the bottom will help the ingot separate from the pan (even the teflon pans).
I agree with Michael, old brood comb doesn't yield very much wax, at least compared to new comb or cappings. What you call grunge actually has a name, it's called 'slum gum'. And you will have to ask yourself if it's worth the effort to get the wax out of old brood comb because the cleanup is such a mess. If you can find a way to easily handle the slum gum clean up, then yes, there is probably enough wax in the old comb to make it worth your while. This is why I use the hardware cloth (I think it's the 1/4-inch square size); I can take it out of the solar wax melter - the slum gum is, of course, melted all over it and I just put it on the ground and the ants (and other microbes) do the rest! By next Spring, it's ready to go again and I haven't spent valuable time trying to clean up the slum gum mess. Of course the hardware cloth is not "completely" clean but the old slum gum is sufficiently brittle and broken down as to be relatively ease to knock off and place the hardware cloth back into the SWM for another go of it.
I find the pollen/honey residue in the brood comb wax to actually be beneficial - at least as far as candle making goes. Of course the wax needs to be filtered and cleaned (like we've already discussed). But the pollen gives the wax it's unique colour (one year my candles were almost orange, rather than yellow) and the little bit of honey residue makes for a great aroma when the candles are burning.
The "grunge" in my old frames looks to be old brood, wax moth debris, old honey and probablly pollen and who knows what else. Looks to be quite a bit of mold / mildew as well. I was fearful that the work involved in cleaning this mess up would be too much for a young colony (kinda like a hazardous waste cleanup w/o suits). Started my girls on Pierco and have 5-6 deep boxes worth of this leftover stuff. Michael, do you physically grind it up or thru a sieve first or are you talking about heating it and using the sieve?
First I sort the wax. The nice clean stuff and cappings and white burr in one pile and the old brood and junk in another. Melt the old brood together. I just throw it in the pot with a little water in the bottom. I have an electric roaster that has a double boiler and I can set the thermostat, now, but I used to do it on the stove. Then pour it all through the sieve. One of those cheap screen wire ones from the grocery store that's about 6" in diameter. If you have something to press it into the seive it works better. I wonder if a colander wouldn't work pretty well. You won't get much wax from the dark stuff, but I hate to waste all of it.
Melt the clean stuff seperately or you will lose more than you gain.
Ah, I see... sounds like an outside job. Better fire up the barbcue burner and find a big pot...
I bought an old gas stove and put it outside for a summer stove (when you want to bake and not heat the house too much) when I want to do messy stuff like wax, and we seem to use it on Thanksgiving and Chrismas for extra oven space.
Michael: that broght back a flash in my memorie.
Mother use to have a gas stove outside, she would use for canning in the summer because of the heat.>>>>Mark