NONE OF YOUR BEESWAX! (should be wasted)

None of Your Beeswax

Working with beeswax:

1. Safety first

Do not ever, ever, EVER heat beeswax (or any other kind of wax) directly; ALWAYS use a water bath. The water surrounding the wax is your buffer; as long as there is water the temperature cannot go over the boiling point of water, which is about 206 degrees F in Boone, NC.

The melting point of beeswax is about 144-149 F; the flash point of beeswax is 400 F

If beeswax is heated directly, the bottom can superheat and cause the wax to explode, with burning.

2. Tools

If possible, buy some tools for working with your beeswax that can be dedicated to just that job. If you do, you won’t have to clean them quite as carefully as if you were going to use them for cooking supper this evening.

Use non-corrosive materials: stainless steel, glass, and plastic; not cast iron, aluminum, copper, or teflon. However, it doesn’t matter what you use for the water bath, since it doesn’t touch the wax. Large is better for cleaning wax, the more water you use, the more dirt you can extract from the wax; using smaller amounts of water may require repetition. A large canning pot is excellent, and the enamel coating is actually glass.

If at all possible, take your wax mess outside or to the garage. A hot plate, a propane burner, or even a gas grill (used carefully) will get the mess outside and may save a relationship. No matter how careful you think you’re going to be, wax is messy. (See No. 6)

3. Cleaning beeswax

Even the dirtiest-looking beeswax can be salvaged for some use. The dark brown wax from your scrapings will clean up to a nice light tan color; cappings wax will be a beautiful yellow.

Use lots of water; put your wax in and heat the water above the melting point of the wax (it does not have to boil). The water-soluble stuff (honey, salts, minerals, fine dirt) will dissolve in the water. The insoluble parts (coarse dirt, grass, leaves, dead bees and bee parts, paint chips, wooden chunks from your frames, etc.) will either fall to the bottom of the pot or float with the wax. Use a fine strainer to go through the melted wax over and over again to get those floaters out. Don’t worry about the rest; it will pour out with the dirty water.

Now let the water cool. The wax will harden into a cake on top. Take it off and turn it over; you may have to scrape off some of the floaty junk that you didn’t get with the strainer. If the wax is still pretty dirty, empty the water, rinse your pot clean and do the whole thing again, until it’s as clean as you want it.

4. Molding beeswax

Now that you have some nice clean wax, you can make it more usable (easier to measure and work with) by remelting it and pouring it into some sort of molds. Plastic molds are easiest to work with, since they are flexible and make it easier to get the wax out. Plastic soap molds are available that make beautiful cakes of wax in many shapes and patterns, but you can also use “found” molds from cookie packages or the plastic covers that come on so many packaged items; just be sure they can take the heat! If they don’t melt with boiling water, they won’t melt with your wax, because you’re never going to get it any hotter than boiling water, right?
You can also pour into non-corrosive pans and cut the wax into bars while it is still soft. Use a flexible spatula to loosen them, and some baking spray might help them not to stick.

Making candles is a wonderful way to use your wax, but that is another whole subject; many good books are available.

5. Using beeswax in other products

Your clean beeswax can be used in lip balms, ointments, and soap; use your best, purest cappings wax for these.

Ointment: 1/4 cup oil to 3 T grated beeswax
Lip Balm: 1/4 cup oil to 4 T grated beeswax + 10 drops essential
oil (9 tubes)

For ointment or lip balm, place oils and beeswax in a small non-corrosive container and heat in a water bath until the wax is melted; stir to combine; cool. Test for consistency; if you want it a little softer, add a small amount of oil; if you want it a little harder, add a little more grated beeswax; remelt and repeat until the consistency is right (this is not an exact science). When it is, melt again and pour into appropriate containers. There will be a small indentation in the top as your lip balm or ointment cools. If this bothers you, top it up with a small amount of melted product which you have saved for this emergency.

If you wish to use beeswax when making soap, add the grated wax to the oils and heat them together before adding to the lye. Beeswax makes the soap bar harder. Too much wax will make the soap sticky and gummy and inhibits lathering. Keep the amount of beeswax at no more that 1.5 percent of the total (1/4 ounce of beeswax to 1 pound of oil).

6. Cleaning up after beeswax

Cleaning pots and utensils: heat any remaining beeswax in a water bath and pour into a mold or onto a cookie sheet to harden; add this back to your stash of beeswax. Next, scrape as much left-behind wax as you can with a plastic pot scraper or an old credit card. Add these scrapings to your stash. Now reheat the pot in the water bath and wipe as clean as possible with paper towels. Finally, scrub the pot with steel wool and soap. A little beeswax in your casserole won’t hurt you.

Cleaning beeswax from fabric (such as candle drips on the table cloth): Put the fabric in the freezer until the wax is very hard, then break it up with your fingers or a hammer and scrape off as much as possible with a plastic pot scraper, an old credit card, or a knife. Next, heat an iron to the correct temperature for the fabric. Put paper towels under and over the wax spill and iron, moving the towels around until no more wax is being absorbed by the towels. Finally, spray the wax spot with furniture polish that contains wax, let it soak in for a minute or two with rubbing, then douse with Citra Solv cleaner or a spray cleaner such as 409 or Fantastic. Wash immediately in the hottest water your fabric can stand.

Some other information about beeswax:

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