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Rendering Beeswax

 

I've done a fair amount of research on rendering beeswax, and I think I've tried every method known to man. At the end of each of them, I ended up with several hours invested in figuring out how to refine the wax from the big mess I made during the process.

Lucky for you, I am here to show you what I learned - minus all the mistakes I made along the way. Hopefully, you will find this useful and save yourself from the frustrations I experienced the first few times I attempted to render wax.

I'm going to give you a list of items you'll need during this process, but first there is something you should know. Every single pot, pan, spoon, dish, cloth, etc. that you use will never again be usable for anything other than rendering wax. I can not stress that enough. So don't drag out great-grandma's antique china passed down through generations and use it during the rendering process. Not unless you want to explain to the family at the next Thanksgiving gathering why great-grandma's gravy dish now looks like something you dug out of the sewer. Get the following items and dedicate them solely to rendering wax:

  • large stainless steel pots (you want stainless steel so that nothing leaches out into your wax)
  • Cool, clear water
  • Empty, clean half gallon milk/juice carton with top cut off (the kind that's coated with wax inside)
  • Knee high panty hose
  • Wax Screen - or lots of cheesecloth
  • Newspaper
  • And now we're ready. Here you go - step by step directions on what I consider the easiest, least messy way to render wax:

     

     

    First you want to put all your burr comb in one of the large stainless steel pots. You may be tempted to try and get some wax out of actual honey comb, but I'm hear to tell ya, it ain't worth it. You will get very little wax and a lot more trash to deal with in the end. Burr comb makes the most and best wax. Just stick with that and you'll be glad you listened to me on this one.

     

     

    Cover this mess with water. It'll float, so pay attention to about how much space it took up in the pot to start with, and then add that much water and half as much again.

     

     

     

    Set the pot on the stove and turn the burner on high. You want this stuff to boil like mad. I cover it once it starts boiling so little bits of wax water don't pop out onto the stove top. That stuff is a bear to remove from the stove top. Keep an eye on it and don't let it boil so fast it starts to boil over. You can turn the heat down, but make sure it is continuously boiling. Boil it for about 30 minutes.

     

     

    Now it's time to drain the liquid and strain out all the leftover junk. Your wax will be mixed in that liquid. I recommend using a wax screen. If you don't have one, you're in luck again! You can quickly, easily, and inexpensively make one following these directions. If you just don't have the time or inclination to make a wax screen, you can use several layers of cheesecloth. Whatever you're using, secure it over the top of the pot you are going to pour your wax liquid into.

     

     

    As soon as you take it off the stove, start gently and slowly pouring your liquid through your strainer and into the pot. I do this outside. Wax is also a bear to get off of your kitchen floor. And it's not something you can easily hide from your husband.

     

     

    When you've finished pouring all the liquid out of the pot, you will be left with a big blob of goo. Don't throw that away! I'll tell you about how to use it a little later.

     

     

    And this is what you are left with after you've strained all that goo from your liquid. Doesn't look like much right now, but that, my friend, is your little pot of gold!

     

     

    Remember that blob of goo you were left with? Spread it out on some newspaper and let it dry and harden. Then break it into chunks and store it in a can or box and you've got yourself some really nice material to help start a fire! You'll be the hit of the bbq when you throw a few chunks of your goo in the grill and light it. It'll burn bright and long and start fire to even the most difficult coals. You can also use it to start fires in your fireplace.

     

     

    While you were messing with your goo blobs, the wax has floated to the surface of your liquid and started to harden. This actually takes a few hours, and I let it sit overnight to get nice and firm. You may notice there's still little chunks of stuff in it. Well, that's because we're not quite finished rendering it. But we're close!

     

     

    Remove the hardened wax from the top of the liquid and throw the liquid away. This is what you're left with.

     

     

    Break that up into small pieces and put it in a stainless steel pot to melt it down again. Most people will tell you to use a double-boiler and if you have one, that's the safest way to go. I prefer to melt it directly over the heat but if you do this USE EXTREME CAUTION. You're dealing with wax and you do NOT want it to catch fire. Melt it very slowly on very low heat and NEVER LEAVE IT UNATTENDED. Sorry for all the skull and cross-bones, but I don't want anything to go wrong and then you blame me. So if you are that type of person, just use the double boiler please.

     

     

    While the wax is melting, stretch a knee high panty hose over the top of your milk/juice carton.

     

     

    Once everything is all melted, slowly and carefully pour it through the panty hose into the carton. If there is a lot of stuff in the pot with the wax, the panty hose may clog up a bit. So stop pouring and after it finishes draining, replace it with a new panty hose before continuing. Big tip here - as tempting as it may be to squeeze the panty hose to get out as much wax as possible, don't do it! You will end up with crud in your beautiful wax and have to start this part of the rendering process over again.

     

     

    And this is what you're left with. Liquid gold!

     

     

    It will harden to a beautiful golden yellow.

     

     

    And now you have beeswax to use in your candles, lip balm, and multitude of other things that beeswax manages to make so wonderful! If you're looking for some ideas, check out the Make Stuff with Beeswax page!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


















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