Help with solar wax melter
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2018
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    South Australia
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    Default Help with solar wax melter

    I've set this up:

    https://imgur.com/a/Zv8QJTd

    Basically, a foam box, with plexiglass on top. There's a food strainer sitting in it, lined with paper towels where the wax since. Underneath, there's a tray to capture the dripping beeswax, sitting in a tub.

    It was 40c/100f yesterday and this black comb that didn't melt. I put in a piece of wax underneath to see if that would melt and it didn't. I've tried sealing up the sides by stuffing the holes with plastic, then putting ducttape over it, then putting allfoil over all the sides, then duct taping that up.

    I'm starting to wonder if this black comb crap will ever melt. I had placed it in a previous solar wax melter, that I made out of an old frying pan with a lid. It could never melt done the last bit of this black, smelling comb, so I deemed the frying pan solar wax melter to be a failed experiment and threw it out.

    Do solar wax melters no entirely break down all the gunk that's it comb? Have I maybe already melted out all the beeswax?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    you will end up with some blank gunk that doesn't melt. more gunk if you are melting old brood comb and less gunk if you are melting clean cappings.

    i would consider painting the inside of your melter black.

    here is a link to a solar wax melter that i made:

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...r-than-factory
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ft White Florida
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    41

    Default

    Painting the inside flat black will help significantly. This is the same type of melter I use and works very well.
    Some of the old black brood comb will not melt. What you’re seeing is mostly cocoons.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    Quote Originally Posted by HiveBeetle View Post
    Painting the inside flat black will help significantly. This is the same type of melter I use and works very well.
    Some of the old black brood comb will not melt. What you’re seeing is mostly cocoons.
    Cocoons which have absorbed the wax. Active steam will get some more wax out and then pressing under heat. But you will have to spend big money to get set up to get that wax out. Solar is best for cappings and scraps, not brood comb.

  6. #5
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    Mar 2014
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    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    I equate old brood comb to wax soaked paper mache. As odfrank pointed out, give it a squeeze after it's hot and then use it as a great fire starter. I also find the wax tends to be darker and less preferred by some buyers/crafters, you might avoid comingling it with you blocks of capping and scrap wax.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  7. #6
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    Jul 2018
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    South Australia
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    I have quite a number of buckets of comb from years of doing crush and straining, is solar not the best way to go about processing this?

  8. #7
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    Mar 2014
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    Solar melting works great for cappings and scraps, it's brood comb with al its cocoons that doesn't melt out much wax no matter how you try to melt it. As someone suggested, paint the inside dark or simply slip a dark trash bag on the inside of your container. Try some lighter colored non brood comb/wax and see if you get satisfactory results.


    An FYI, put a few cm of water in your catch pan and it makes removing the filtered wax easier; the wax floats on top and can only attach to the sides if at all.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  9. #8
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    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    Default

    While your melter is economical it is not effective except in ideal sunlight conditions. Look at the Beesource solar melter plans and you will see that all the unmelted wax And the melted wax is exposed to direct sunlight most of the time. Little wax hidden in shadows.
    I melt five gallons of cappings daily in that style melter.

    https://beesource.com/build-it-yours...ar-wax-melter/

    There is also a melting season when the sun is direct enough to melt. That season here is May to September.
    All of my opinions and suggestions are based on my five decades of actual beekeeping,
    not so much on book learning, watching YouTube videos nor reading internet sites.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    NW Florida
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    odfrank, he is an Aussie with 100F weather right now. There should be enough sun and heat to melt wax. Correcting for shade should help fix the issue.
    FWIW, I melted some very old black comb stovetop last summer and got VERY little wax from it. The stuff was old enough to have passed the brittle point and gone rock hard. Got it from a house cut out. Depending on how old that black comb is, it may not be worth the effort.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    South Australia
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    I threw out the old black slum gum comb, put fresh stuff in and it melted very well. I put a Thermometer in there but it got so hot that it exploded. The wax came out very white, does it supposed to be a more yellow colour? I'm not sure if it being so pale white means it heated up too high.

    There's also some black stuff on the bottom underneath part. Should I put it back in the wax melter with a fresh piece of paper, to try and strain out the black stuff and make it pretty and pure?

  12. #11
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    Mar 2014
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    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    I generally run most of the wax twice just to ensure I haven't gotten any trash into it when handling the comb and reloading the melter, but I do it after I've run all the comb/wax thru once and tidied up the melter. Scrape most of the slum gum off the bottom and run it with a fresh piece of paper.


    I never get really white/light colored wax but since you mentioned you've crush and strained for years, it wouldn't surprise me if you might have a lot of first year light colored comb that you're melting. Personally I've never had the heat in the melter affect color but note the color of the comb you're start with.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  13. #12
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    Powhatan, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    The heat of the melter won't hurt the wax. If it can stay in the sunlight for a while the sun will bleach out some of the color and you will have a lighter colored product.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    Come to think of it, the wax was rather white looking to begin with. Maybe that's simply the reason why it came out white.

    I read that wax loses quality when it's exposed to certain high temperatures.

  15. #14
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    Apr 2013
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    Jemison, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    This may not be the right place to ask this if not please advise.
    I am about to build a solar wax melter and my question is, will it hurt the frames to put them in the melter?
    I was thinking that the heat would get the wax out of the bottom grove and make re-using them easier.

    thanks
    Insect farming is soooo interesting :)

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    My melter is purposely built to accommodate whole frames and it doesn't hurt the frames but I'm primarily foundationless, the heat may play the devil with any foundation.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    My melter is purposely built to accommodate whole frames and it doesn't hurt the frames but I'm primarily foundationless, the heat may play the devil with any foundation.
    Thank you I appreciate your reply, I use mostly wax foundation and this would be to get it ready to install new foundation. So I think this will work fine. thanks again
    Insect farming is soooo interesting :)

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    You will find that black combs do not produce much wax and they leave a black residue on the frames that I remove by hot pressure washing.
    All of my opinions and suggestions are based on my five decades of actual beekeeping,
    not so much on book learning, watching YouTube videos nor reading internet sites.

  19. #18
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    Apr 2013
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    Jemison, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    Thank you, I have about decided that the brood comb is more trouble than it is worth trying to reclaim any wax.
    Good to know about pressure washing to clean them up.
    Insect farming is soooo interesting :)

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    If you light any outside fires, the dark comb is great as fire starters. Pull the comb and paper towels out while hot, place on a couple sheets of newspaper and roll it up. Burns hot and fast.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  21. #20
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    Jemison, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Help with solar wax melter

    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    If you light any outside fires, the dark comb is great as fire starters. Pull the comb and paper towels out while hot, place on a couple sheets of newspaper and roll it up. Burns hot and fast.

    Thanks that is a good idea.
    Insect farming is soooo interesting :)

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