Re: how to clean bee wax
A lot depends on how it got dark in the first place. If it was overheated, good luck.
Here are some simple techniques to make good quality wax.
Get a stainless steel pan that holds roughly 5 gallons. This is large enough to hold wax from most small beekeeping operations. There are plenty of cheap pans available for $20 or less, but if you can, get a heavier duty pan. Be sure NOT to borrow a pan from your wife's kitchen, that is fighting territory.
Purchase a round stainless steel kitchen strainer about 6 inches diameter with fine mesh in the bottom. These are less than $10 at Walmart. Again, don't even think about borrowing one from your wife's kitchen.
Make an insulated box. This is a box roughly 2 feet cube that you insulate with styrofoam which you can buy at your local building supply store. The box should be large enough when finished to completely enclose the stainless steel container you will melt the wax in. The easy way to do this is to start with an ordinary cardboard box and glue on sheets of styrofoam to the outside sides and bottom and make a loose sheet for the top. You can use polyisocyanurate or other high quality sheet of insulation at your discretion. The important thing is to completely insulate the box so it can keep the wax liquid for at least 24 hours.
Place the wax in the stainless pan and fill it to within 2 inches of the top with water. It doesn't matter how much wax you have vs how much water, the important thing is that the total when melted will nearly fill up the pan. Be sure to leave room for expansion, hot wax expands nearly 20%. If you have hard water with lots of dissolved minerals and metal, it WILL discolor the wax, use distilled water if you really want high quality wax. Melt the wax in the pan over a low heat source. If you use an open flame, PLEASE do this outdoors. Wax fires are nothing to take chances on. The wax should be heated to melting but should not be boiled. Keep a clean wooden stick handy to stir the wax and make a point of stirring it regularly. Adjust the temperature down if it starts to boil. When the wax is entirely liquid, use the strainer to skim out any cocoons or impurities, then carefully place the entire pan in the insulated box and close it up and place a sheet of styrofoam over the top to hold in the heat. The box should be indoors someplace out of the way where it can sit completely undisturbed for 2 days. After 2 days, take the pan out of the box and if it is still hot, let it cool for at least 12 hours. The wax cake should break loose from the walls of the pan as it cools. Carry the pan outdoors and turn it upside down on a clean surface such as a piece of cardboard or plywood. The water will gush out and the wax cake should fall out of the pan. Scrape any impurities off the bottom of the cake of wax.
One special note when melting wet cappings with honey still on them, melt the wax the first time as per above and let it cool, then pour off the water and scrape the wax cake, then repeat the process of melting and cooling and scraping. The honey causes problems with the wax forming a proper cake. You have to melt at least twice to get rid of the honey and produce high quality wax. You can repeat this process as many times as you like until the wax is entirely free of contaminants. Also, if you want to purify the wax, you can stir in diatomaceous earth during heating. It will settle out when you put it in the insulated box.
This method is NOT appropriate for old brood combs!
DarJones - 43 years beekeeper, 10 colonies, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell