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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
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    1,914

    Question

    I'm planning on building a solar wax melter since I have a lot of large-celled frames that I'm converting to small-cell. One tip I got from someone here was to make the melter large enough to stack queen excluders in. I'm making it big enough to do that and to handle 10 deep frames.

    One question is: where do I get a "pan" large enough to put under these? That's going to be around 21x21 inches (give or take). I don't have any sheet metal tools, so something preformed would be great.

    (ooooo, perhaps I have a solution by taking a sheet of sheet metal and simply bowing it. Set in the melter at a slope, it would work, right?) what other options?

    What other questions I'm not thinking to ask here?
    Thanks,
    Wayacoyote
    WayaCoyote

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
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    1,914

    Post

    Ah, Reading the post on processing wax, I remembered another question: besides a bread pan to catch the melting wax, can I use a plastic container? Would the plastic melt or be compromised and contaminate the wax? Seems like the wax could be popped out of a plastic container easier.
    WayaCoyote

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    North Hills, CA USA
    Posts
    454

    Post

    Make a pan out of aluminum sheet material or have a sheet metal shop bend or "break" the corners for you like I did, after laying out a patern on paper full scale. At the vertical corners I allowed for one side to overlap the other by about 1/2". Caulked with silicone rubber cement and pop revited the overlap for stringth. The pan has never leaked. I use half gal. paper milk cartons or the like to hold the melted wax. When the wax hardens pull off the paper you have a 4lb.+ block of wax.
    Walt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,478

    Post

    Dont make it too deep, or it takes just too much energy to get to melting temp. I found that 6 inches below the pane works best.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    Wayacoyote, my wax melter is the 'Penn State" design. I made the melting pan with sheet metal from two of those large 20 lb. institutional coffee containers. The two pieces were joined together and soldered. A set of those flat jawed vice grips was used to do the bending, since I don't have large enough sheet metal brake. Not a real work or art, but a tolerable job, nonetheless. For the collection pan, I use plastic Tupperware or Rubbermaid containers that can be purchased at local thrift stores. They're better than metal pans, in my opinion, since they do flex and the wax cake is easier to remove. Generally, I put an inch or so of water in the bottom of the collection pan before setting the melter out in the sun. (As you can see I'm frugal. Well, ok cheap....)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alpine, TX
    Posts
    104

    Post

    Where can I find a "Penn State" design pattern?
    Is insulation around the melitng pan a good thing? And, can't you just use wood?
    Obviously I haven't a clue how these really need to be built.
    Thanks for helping.
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    Where can I find a "Penn State" design pattern?
    www.ag.ndsu.nodak/edu/abeng/plans/6265.pdf

    one inch thick styrofoam was used to insulate mine, but i had to put a piece of cardboard between the melting pan and the styrofoam to insulate the insulation. [img]smile.gif[/img] plain old wood painted flat black on the outside should work ok, but i did insulate.

    the plans call for a double pane of glass, but a single pane should work. a second hand store might be a good source for a couple of windows.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alpine, TX
    Posts
    104

    Post

    Great thanks!
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alpine, TX
    Posts
    104

    Post

    Oops, I forgot... one more question (at least for now
    If there is a little honey mixed w/ the was as it melts does it separate from the wax in the catch pan?
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,191

    Post

    Honey and wax don't separate very well in the pan but after it has cooled, you can usually just wash the wax off with water to remove any residue of honey. It will usually not be in the wax as inclusions.

    I looked at the penn state design but spotted a flaw in it immediately. Its very similar to a wax melter I built about 20 years ago. The flaw is that the sides of the melter are vertical. I've found that wax melters built so the sites slope do a better job by keeping the heat on the wax.

    I've never had a problem with a wax melter being too deep. On the other hand, I've never built one more than 12 inches deep.

    The double glass is better than a single pane. Temperature can be several degrees hotter.

    Fusion

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
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    1,649

    Post

    If there is a little honey mixed w/ the was as it melts does it separate from the wax in the catch pan?
    Yes, the honey will separate from the wax. Melted wax will float on top of the honey in the collection pan. A small amount of water in the bottom of your collection pan helps when removing the cake of wax.

    As far as the vertical/sloping side issue of your melting pan, mine is built with vertical sides and works quite well. In fact, most designs seem to have vertical sides. Perhaps there may be a small percentage increase in efficiency using a sloping side, but I don't know.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alpine, TX
    Posts
    104

    Post

    OK that helps a lot...one more question (again) if I put a screen at the bottom of the slope to strain debris from the wax do you have suggestions for type and size of the material...
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    >.... a screen..... to strain debris....suggestions for type and size of the material.

    I just lay a piece of screen in the pan. That holds back most of the gunk. At the end of the melting session, while the debris/gunk/slumgum is still warm, I use a putty knife or hive tool to scrape most of it off the screen and store it in a coffee can. When the can is not quite full, I put some water in it and melt all that stuff down on a hotplate in my garage. Then it’s poured and pressed through a sieve--actually an old colander--to get more of the wax that was retained in the slumgum.

    In the plans section is a similar design for a melter:
    http://www.beesource.com/plans/melter.htm

    For something simpler, a cardboard box can be used to make a small melter. I made one from a box measuring, in inches, 22L x 14W x 11H. The inside was fashioned along the same lines as a full size melter. A piece of tarpaper was used to wrap the sides of the box. (It could also have been painted flat black.) I insulated it with styrofoam, used a piece of aluminum foil for the melting “pan”, and fashioned a cover using a clear plastic trash bag. It’s not quite the melter as my larger one, but does melt wax ok on a sunny calm 60º day.

    For just melting burr comb and the like here’s a real simple design:
    http://www2.gsu.edu/~biojdsx/solmltr.htm

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alpine, TX
    Posts
    104

    Post

    YEA! Now I have plans that I can do myself w/out all the complicated woodworking
    Have you seen this site:
    http://solarcooking.org/funnel.htm

    It has good info and looks interesting. Might be able to be modified to do wax.

    I'm fixing to go finish my TBH that I built yesterday and organize myself to transfer a swarm out of an OLD Lang into it.
    THanks again
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Question

    THATHB book shows a frontal view of the Penn State design wax melter. Here’s part of the text: “...should be painted black outside and white inside. The black exterior absorbs more heat and the white color inside reflects some of the sun’s rays--rays which are unable to escape due to the glass covering.”

    The 36th ed. of ABC & XYZ shows a similar design (also shown in Beesource Plans section). The text reads: “Before use, the entire unit, including the sheet-metal pan, should be painted black for maximum heat absorption.” Those painting directions are also given in Beesource Plans.

    In the end, I’d suppose makes little difference. Mine is painted black outside and white inside. (But the white paint is covered with an inch thickness of white styrofoam all around.) Just out of curiosity who’s the most correct? Anyone know?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,643

    Post

    I have an all white one and an all black one and the all white one works better.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    Posts
    115

    Post

    I bought a plastic deep sink at Lowes for $19.98 it comes with detachable legs. I painted the outside flat black. Inside I attached wood strips to the sides to accept a flat, disposable aluminum cookie sheet the sell at Walmart in three packs. I also bought the disposable aluminum bread pans to make the wax block in. The wood strips angle down slightly. At the top I attached wood strips to hang frames from. When I'm not melting wax I snap on the legs and use it as an uncapping tank.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    What are you using for a cover, fhafer?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
    Posts
    1,914

    Post

    thanks for all the input and the links.

    How large should the final "catch pan" need to be to collect the wax from 10 frames? I'm wanting to design mine to hold 10 frames at a time, and I got to thinking, if it is too small, the wax and/or honey will spill over causing a mess.

    Waya
    WayaCoyote

  20. #20

    Post

    I have not complete mine but I am using a 55gallon drum cut up to be the "pan" that Ir est items in. Being as black absorbs heat I will paint mine black.

    Regarding the catch basin, the only wax melter I have seen in operation had a plastic one.

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