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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Post

    What is involved in bleaching beeswax? I have alot of medium to dark beeswax that I would love to lighten in some way. I have heard something about laying it out in the sun, but not at this time of the year.

    What the best method to lighten beeswax, if its even possible?
    Thank you.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    48,880

    Post

    I wasn't purposefully trying to bleach beeswax, but when wax coating PermaComb I ended up with sheets of wax on the table outside. It bleaches quite quickly (a day or two) when it's only 1/4" or so thick. But a block of wax left out doesn't bleach so quickly. It takes a lot of sunlight to penetrate very far into the wax.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
    Posts
    2,837

    Post

    Greetings . . .

    Here's some interesting info about bleaching beeswax . . .

    "Bleaching w/ chemicals can’t be recommended for home use" [Ref 1, p124].

    "US beeswax does NOT bleach readily, neither by chemical means or when exposed to the sun’s rays. Bleachable grades come from Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Africa, and Egypt" [Ref 2, p432].

    "Chlorine must be avoided as the chlorine is absorbed by the wax and will be realeased as a toxic gas if burned in a candle" [Ref 3, p69].

    Ref 1 - KEEPING BEES, John Vivian, 1986
    Ref 2 - THE HIVE AND THE HONEY BEE, Roy A Grout, 1963
    Ref 3 - THE ABC AND XYZ OF BEE CULTURE, Morse & Flottum, 1990

    Hope this is helpful!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Drums, PA, USA
    Posts
    331

    Post

    I have used hydrogen peroxide before. It works ok, but it takes a while. Clorox 2, is a non chlorine bleach, and uses hydrogen peroxide. I did 2 pounds with it, and it lightened up alot. It is not pure white, but a natural color.
    I made a wax melter, with high wattage lamps, controlled by a thermostat, in which the wax gets screened, and eventually goes through a coffee filter. Sure it is still brown, but alot cleaner. I then put it into a water filled pot, and cooked it with clorox 2. The bubbles purify it, and it has no choice but to bleach. Then I dumped the pot thru another coffee filter, into a cooling pot. The wax floats to the top, and dirt settles to the lower surface of the wax. Once cooled, any dirt can be scraped off. I have not made any candles from it, but it smells like beeswax, and not clorine.

    Anyway, that is how I did it. Whether this is considered acceptable or not, it does work pretty well.

  5. #5
    jfischer Guest

    Post

    I have a "high-energy full spectrum lamp" for
    testing materials that need "accelerated
    life-cycle" testing. This thing is claimed
    to blast objects with enough photons to
    approximate a month's exposure to sunlight
    in a few hours.

    I also have some wax from melted-down brood
    combs that have all been in service for a
    total of 5 years each. (Yes, a little longish
    for a purist, but at least I have a system,
    and let no comb stay in any brood chamber
    for any longer.)

    Wax poured into old cookie sheets to a depth
    of 1/4 inch or so and exposed to the lamp
    will "bleach out" in what would appear to
    be somwhere between 4 and 10 days exposure.
    (I don't trust the math that comes with the
    lamp to yeild accurate results when one is
    speaking of timespans less than months.)

    I have no idea where the comment about not
    being able to "bleach out" wax from US hives,
    perhaps it was a comment on midwestern pollen
    and/or nectar types.

    Anyway, I would not use this wax for church
    candles, but it clearly lost the typical
    greenish cast, and the brownish samples
    were lightened quite a bit. I had to discontinue the test abruptly when one of
    the samples got hot enough that it not only
    melted, but started smoldering. It seems
    that dark wax with junk in it will, ummm,
    "spontaneously combust" under this rig.

    So, 1/4 inch thick slabs and sheets in the
    sun for a week seems to be a worthwhile effort.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Julian, NC, USA
    Posts
    252

    Post

    Bjorn:

    Just curious, but why do you want to bleach your wax? Are you trying to lighten it for a particular purpose?

    Kurt

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Post

    Kurt, its the same with honey. The medium/darker honey might taste better, but for a market shelf for consumer preferences, the lighter sells better. I just have alot of darker wax, and in making hand dipped candles, the lighter wax ones do better. I like to mix in with the capping wax an amount of "other" wax (culled old comb and scrapings), to stretch my (good/light) wax reserve as far as possible.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Julian, NC, USA
    Posts
    252

    Post

    I sell a fair amount of candles myself and do not seem to have that problem. Perhaps it is the the difference in people groups from area to area.
    best of luck,
    Kurt

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,158

    Post

    >I like to mix in with the capping wax an amount of "other" wax (culled old comb and scrapings), to stretch my (good/light) wax reserve as far as possible.

    Couldn't you dip your candles in darker wax for the base and then dip in the lighter wax for a lighter outside coating? I would think that should give them a lighter appearance?
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Calgary, AB, Canada
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: bleaching beeswax?

    Hi "Hook"

    you used peroxide and Clorox 2. Could you give me hints on the amounts and how long it needs to "cook" for?

    thanks!

    Kat

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Philly, PA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: bleaching beeswax?

    Although this is a very old post, I thought I'd respond since it seems to be the only practical result that comes up on Google in reference to bleaching beeswax, and I would like to help someone in my position who had no other place to look. I'm a sculptor who uses beeswax as a material, and it is very important to me to have pristine-white wax. Sun bleaching is preferable, but in these cold, long Northeast winters, it's just not practical. So I did a little experimenting with some of the recommendations from this post, and settled on the following process which works very well and results in a beautiful ivory-white color. Like another member, I started with drug-store hydrogen peroxide (3% hydrogen peroxide dissolved in water), but found that this only lightened the wax a shade. I realized that the key is to use 35% hydrogen peroxide, which can be purchased online. I bought through Amazon. It cost me about $28 for a 32 oz. bottle, and with this I was able to bleach about 3 lbs. of wax. It's not cost effective to do on a large scale, but it suited me just fine.

    Disclaimer: 35% hydrogen peroxide can be dangerous. Do this in a well-ventilated area, and keep the liquid away from bare skin, eyes, and mouth. if the peroxide comes in contact with your skin, rinse it immediately. Your skin will turn white and bubble, and you will feel a mild stinging sensation. It's not life -threatening, the stinging and whitening goes away quickly, but it's not pleasant. As far as vapor goes: for the most part this process is safe in small, well-controlled quantities because peroxide has a higher boiling point than water. The water in the solution prevents the peroxide from getting too hot. HOWEVER, when the water evaporates, you run the risk of boiling the peroxide, and the fumes can be dangerous. Do this in a well-ventilated area, and do not stand over the pot when removing the lid.

    1. Thoroughly filter the wax. There's lots of ways to do this. I use a microfiber bag that is normally used for a shop-vac. I've also used a carbon filter that is used to filter air in ducts. I keep the wax under it's boiling point, and I use a heat gun to prevent the wax from solidifying and gumming up the filter.
    2. Once you've filtered the wax and it has cooled and returned to it's solid state, place the wax and the hydrogen peroxide in about a 1:2 ratio into a pot with a tight-fitting lid, leaving plenty of room from the top of the pot.
    3. Heat the peroxide low and slow (do not get the mixture too hot too quickly). I kept my flame super low and patiently waited for it to start simmering. Cover the pot tightly. I discovered that the bubbling process is important, it helps the peroxide penetrate the wax.
    4. The wax will melt and the peroxide will simmer. It should foam and bubble briskly but it shouldn't overflow.
    5. Be patient. Check periodically. It took my wax five or so hours to become white.
    6. When the wax reaches the shade you like, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. The wax will solidify and float on the top of the liquid.
    7. Put on gloves to remove the solid wax from the pot. Rinse the wax thoroughly before touching with your bare hands. Touching the liquid peroxide can be dangerous (see my disclaimer above).

    Thanks to all the members here for pointing me in the right direction, and good luck!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
    Posts
    1,069

    Default Re: bleaching beeswax?

    Within the last few months I came across a you tube video where apparently keeping the beeswax in a liquid state in a solar melter was key to the beekeeper "bleaching" his wax by sunlight. Looked pretty good.......ivory white and inexpensive.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Dallas, texas
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: bleaching beeswax?

    I can whiten my wax easily with my extreme heat and sun if I wanted to (Texas). Gotta a buddy who lives up North that uses a maple syrup filter press and its ivory beautiful. Cost of press is well let's just say costly. It does it though.

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