beeswax melting / filtering - need help
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    35

    Post

    Hey everybody,

    I decided to melt and filter (finally) all the wax I've collected from 3 hives the last 3 years and enter the best stuff in the NY State Fair as a 1 block. Why not?

    Well, I was able to separate all the old honey from the wax, but the melting/filtering part is a bit of a pain. I have a melting pot (from Betterbee), but I burned some in the double-boiler, so I reverted to melting in glass in the microwave, then filtering through cheesecloth into plastic containers. When I've filtered it all, I'll break it apart, remelt it, them pour it into my 1 lb mold.

    Problem is, it's VERY time consuming and I'm still scorching wax, even though I'm only heating in short bursts (30 sec and 1 min). I have some really beautiful WHITE cappings that I'd like to use to lighten the whole thing.

    Should I reattempt the double-boiler method with the melting pot as the first stage of melting/filtering? Or is there a better method?

    Any ideas would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jim

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,830

    Post

    ALWAYS melt wax in a double boiler or with water in the bottom. You never want it hotter than 212 F. If you get hotter you could have a fire.

    I try to filter through cheese cloth twice. Filter, put in 1/2 gallon milk cartons, let it get hard, scrape the dirt off the bottom. Rinse and repeat.'

    The smaller proportion of bottom surface to depth in the milk cartons, concentrates the dirt into less wax.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Dayton, OH USA
    Posts
    328

    Post

    I can't speak from experience, but I have heard that you can place the solid wax in a pot of hot water until it all melts, then shut off the heat. As the pot cools, the sediment will settle to the bottom of the pot leaving only pure wax floating on top of the water. After the wax cools to a solid again, remove and dry the solid and then re-melt it however you wish to pour into pans or whatever you want for shape. Seemed to make sense.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    35

    Post

    Michael and beecron,

    thanks for the advice. I think my problem before with the double boiler was that I let the water get way too hot AND I didnt separate some heavily honeyed wax before I melted it. I found the microwave gets even hotter.

    i finally got it separated by putting each honey-wax glob into a 2 cup measure, pouring boiling water on it and let the wax float, then dry it. Think I'll get a thermometer tonight.

    Thanks again,
    Jim

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Rochester, Washington, USA
    Posts
    971

    Wink

    I made a "jerry rigged" contraption out of an old WOK and a 4 quart sauce pan, put about 4 cups of water in the sauce pan then the wok with my wax seated on it, bring to a boil (the water) and let the wax melt, works pretty slick. I filter it though old pieces of gunny sacks ( which then can then be used for camp fires as a fire starter). If I want to be really fancy, I then remelt the wax and filter through cheese cloth.

    [size="1"][ August 05, 2006, 07:43 PM: Message edited by: SilverFox ][/size]
    \"ONLY WHEN THE LAST RIVER HAS BEEN DRIED UP<br />THE LAST TREE BEEN CUT DOWN<br />THE LAST WILD FISH CAUGHT<br />WILL MAN REALIZE YOU CAN\'T EAT MONEY\"<br />GHANDI (?)

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    6

    Post

    Just wondering, since I don't have a hive yet so obviously no wax to deal with - coiuld you melt it in a Crock Pot? I melted huge quantities of wax in my large one for a candle-making project for sunday school and had no scorching at all.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Syracuse, NY (upstate)
    Posts
    255

    Post

    Like Michael Bush says "The smaller proportion of bottom surface to depth in the milk cartons, concentrates the dirt into less wax". That is how small scale gold smelting is done. Once melted, the gold ore is pour from the crucible into an inverted cone or pyramid. The heavier gold, silver & copper settle to the bottom and once cooled are broken free of the "slag".

    I use this concept successfully with bees wax. Once melted, I poor it into a large plastic funnel that I buy at Home Depot. The funnel has a small stopper plugging up the funnel neck. All the impurities settle to the bottom so once I pop the wax out it is easy to remove the slag without wasting much wax. Another advantage is that the sloped sides of the funnel make it easy to remove the wax.
    ekrouse [Your source for 100% Pure Local Honey from New York State]
    www.EricsHoneyFarm.com/resources

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    3,796

    Post

    I use a Walmart special crock pot I got a few years ago. Works well for the melting but is slow. I put the wax in it that I want to melt and walk away for several hours. If I'm around the house all day I can do 2-3 batches. I strain through old sweatshirts. I cleaned out our local thrift store at .50 each.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    6,965

    Post

    I use recycled crock pots (yes plural) from resale shops. The low heat setting is slow but never scorches the wax. The high setting is faster but definitely requires more attention. For a strainer I use straining cones that I acquire by the box from the automotive paint store.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Williston, NC, USA
    Posts
    1,778

    Post

    In the summer I melt it in my solar wax melter. In the winter I use a crock pot.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    3,014

    Post

    The above suggestions would work for small amounts of wax but not for large quantities. Also, none of the above is directed to producing show grade wax. Here is a method of producing high quality wax. It should not be used for brood combs because of the embedded cocoons. Brood combs are best handled by a wax press.

    To produce show grade wax, use only the lightest and highest quality cappings. Remove any honey by washing in warm water at a temp of 150 to 180 degrees F. Just put the wax in a stainless steel container and run hot water from the faucet into it. Let it cool enough so you can work the cappings by hand and squeeze them into small wads the size of your fist or smaller. The water source must NOT be full of iron or other dissolved contaminants.

    Now melt the wax over water on a highly controllable heat source. There are two ways to do this. Either put them in a stainless steel double boiler with water in with the wax or else with water in an ordinary stainless pan placed over the heat source. The key here is that there must be some water in with the wax to help settle the dirt and trash out. The water should be about 1/2 inch deep in the container which is just enough to form a good layer beneath the melted wax. If you try to melt wax on high heat, lots of accidents can occur so keep the burner down low. As the wax melts, stir it often with a wire whisk. Buy one just for this purpose, you wife will kill you if you use hers.

    Once the wax is completely melted, stir steadily for 5 minutes. The purpose of this is to make contaminants come in contact with the water. If you are not using a double boiler, its very important at this stage to avoid boiling which causes the wax to saponify. Now turn off the heat and if there is any trash floating on the wax, remove it with a small piece of window screen. I keep a roll of screen around for the bees anyway so just cut off a 4 inch square and use it to dip up the trash. You could also dip it out with a spoon.

    I cool my wax in the container it was melted in. You can also pour the wax and water into a milk carton or other container that will hold it. The key is to cool it very very slowly. I built an insulated box for this purpose. Its just a thick styrofoam box big enough to hold my pan. A cheap cooler would work if your container will fit. Even something as simple as a closeable cardboard box will help so long as the container will fit entirely into it and you close it tightly. Put the wax somewhere out of the way and forget about it until it has completely cooled to room temperature. Five gallons of wax takes about 3 days to cool in my insulated box. Smaller containers take much less time. Don't mess with it until its cool or you can ruin the settling process.

    If you left it in the stainless steel pan, it should separate from the metal as it cools but be warned that if there is a large propolis content, it may stick causing problems. If you used a milk carton, tear the carton off the wax. Scrape the bottom to remove impurities and if desired, repeat the above process of melting and settling.

    Fusion

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Schenectady, NY, USA
    Posts
    400

    Post

    Fusion has it exactly right, but to win blue ribbons a final step is needed.

    But before the 'final step', go back and use Fusion's directions. This is VERY IMPORTANT.

    After getting a great cake of wax using Fusion's directions, scrape the bottom of the cake. You will only remove 1/16-1/8th, but that is very important. Then melt again, with no water. Very slowly. Use a crock pot or, for larger quantities an electric turkey roaster ($20-$40 in Wal-Mart). When melted, adjust to 150-160 degrees. No higher, and cerainly no lower.

    Buy a small stainless steel wire strainer and rest it on a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Line the strainer with a BOUNTY paper towel. (Other brands will not work as well.) Pour the 150-160 degree wax through the lined strainer. Then pour into a mold.

    If you have NEVER heated with wax above 160 degrees and carefully follow Fusion's and the above directions...you will win First Prize. If you fail to do so:
    a. you have used something other than pure capping wax.
    b. somewhere alone the line you let the liquid wax cool below 150 or heat to above 160.
    c. you heated the wax more than twice.

    Best of luck,

    Lloyd
    Lloyd Spear

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    35

    Post

    Lloyd and Fusion (and everyone else),

    Thanks for the excellent advice.

    Fusion - I printed out your directions and am going to use them tonight. Unfortunately, I think I screwed up my capping wax by microwaving it, instead of "double-boilering" it first with a thermometer. Oh well. I might do it anyway, just for the practice, and maybe the judges will give me constructive comments. If I don't get a good block this year, there's always next year, right?

    Lloyd - thanks for the post note to Fusion's info. Someone else mentioned paper towels a long time ago, but I'm grateful for the details.

    Again, I GREATLY appreciate the help. I can't find this information anywhere else.

    Jim

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania/Florida
    Posts
    458

    Post

    Here's an idea. Get yourself a frydaddy. Drill a hole about 2 inches up one of the sides and mount a stainless steel valve into it. Fill frydaddy with about 1 inch of water for the gravity to pull out the dirt. Then once wax is melted wait for a bit to let settle and tap the wax out of the center of the melted wax. I find the center is normally the cleanest section. Some dirt floats, some sinks, not much stays in the center. Filter wax as it comes out of the valve. I Use hairnets with a special wooden frame to hold it still. Stop taking the wax out when it is about an inch above the valve hole. Depending on the size of frydaddy you get could be rather slick way of doing it. I haven't actually tried this. It's just a miniature version of what i use for doing my runs. But i melt 300lb in a stainless double lined tank with a highvoltage heater built into it.

    Just an idea for someone to try if they like it.

    Aaron

    [size="1"][ August 08, 2006, 09:03 AM: Message edited by: AstroZomBEE ][/size]

  16. #15

    Post

    Tere are "presto pots" for sale on Ebay which are similar to your discription, astrozombee. The ones I use are from this outfit http://stores.ebay.com/Coppercreekincs-General-Store
    but there are others for sale as well.
    I have not used them to clean, we have big commercial units too, but they work great for small batches of colored wax, scented wax etc. I have 6 of them, in fact, for different colors. Run about $50 ea if I recall.
    Sheri

  17. #16

  18. #17

    Default Re: beeswax melting / filtering - need help

    Douple.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Lake County, Illinois
    Posts
    142

    Default Re: beeswax melting / filtering - need help

    If I have had my wax go thru a Maxant spinner would it still be necessary to do the rinsing and washing

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: beeswax melting / filtering - need help

    Yes. I use a Maxant spinner and still have to rinse/wash. Another requirement in the filtering is removing pollen and bee parts. Parts happen!
    Just finished my wax rendering. Not show quality, but great for coating foundation.
    Brian

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    725

    Default Re: beeswax melting / filtering - need help

    I was messing with all kinds of different boiling melting configurations. super messy.

    My most recent method - solar wax melter. Passive. This is the first season and it works well. I can see that I will need to do some "clean up" of the heating tray for next season.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim_R View Post
    Hey everybody,

    I decided to melt and filter (finally) all the wax I've collected from 3 hives the last 3 years and enter the best stuff in the NY State Fair as a 1 block. Why not?

    Well, I was able to separate all the old honey from the wax, but the melting/filtering part is a bit of a pain. I have a melting pot (from Betterbee), but I burned some in the double-boiler, so I reverted to melting in glass in the microwave, then filtering through cheesecloth into plastic containers. When I've filtered it all, I'll break it apart, remelt it, them pour it into my 1 lb mold.

    Problem is, it's VERY time consuming and I'm still scorching wax, even though I'm only heating in short bursts (30 sec and 1 min). I have some really beautiful WHITE cappings that I'd like to use to lighten the whole thing.

    Should I reattempt the double-boiler method with the melting pot as the first stage of melting/filtering? Or is there a better method?

    Any ideas would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jim
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

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