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Author Topic: Melting old nasty comb  (Read 351 times)

Offline BrentX

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Melting old nasty comb
« on: November 28, 2011, 01:43:39 pm »
I have pulled the oldest comb out of hives and was planning to melt it down for the wax.  I have some very dark comb that seems reluctant to melt.  Any recommendations for recovering and purifying this wax?

First I put the frames in an old ice chest with a high watt light bulb.  Left overnight the temperature got hot enough to melt the plastic foundation, but only softened the wax.  No wax flowed.  All the comb was still in honey comb shape.

Next I put some in a double boiler...and boiled and boiled and boiled.  Same result.  No melting.

Next I put some in an old bean can and placed directly on the camp stove.  I used great caution here, as I thought the wax might get hot enough to ignite, but it only sizzled.  No wax melted.

So I am thinking there is a better way to do this.  What would be an appropriate technique to turn this wax into something clean enough to use for candles?


Offline bud1

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 06:22:15 pm »
you get verry little from old comb; the cacoons asorb the wax
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Offline Kathyp

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 06:51:25 pm »
best way i have found is to put it in cheesecloth and steam it over a double boiler.  bud is right, you won't get much, but if you have lots of old wax it's still worth it.

the cheesecloth will hold the cocoons and the wax will melt into the water.  cool and remove wax.  then you can refilter it as you do with any other wax.

DON'T boil it over.  big mess!!
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Offline BrentX

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 10:05:28 pm »
I decided to try the chemical engineering approach. 

First I put some old comb on the end of the hive tool and stuck in directly in the flame.  It sizzled but did render a tiny bit of wax.  Eventually it got hot enough to char, but never did melt down.  This signaled me there would not be much wax to render from the comb at any temperature I was willing to use.  Bud's observation was right on.

So next I went with the water extraction method, figuring this would be the most effective way to get what ever wax was renderable.  I mixied equal parts comb and water in a sturdy pot and boiled on the camp stove.    The comb softened but did not melt.  After boiling for a few minutes I poured off the liquid through a 1/8" hardware cloth (which kept the unmelted comb out of the liquid.  In a few minutes the liquid cooled enough to separate into a wax phase and aqueous phase, with the wax solidifying as it cooled.  In all I got a few table spoons of rendered wax from 3 frames worth of comb. 

Offline Kathyp

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 10:23:48 pm »
:-)  you need several boxes of the old stuff to make it worth doing.  you can save that old comb for swarm traps.
They are so divorced from their own interests that even when their own security and that of their children is finally compromised, they do not seek to avert the danger themselves but cross their arms and wait for the nation as a whole to come to their aid. Yet as utterly as they sacrifice their own free will, they are no fonder of obedience than anyone else. They submit, it is true, to the whims of a clerk, but no sooner is force removed than they are glad to defy the law as a defeated enemy. Thus one finds them ever wavering between servitude and license.
Alexis de Tocqueville

Offline Country Heart

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2011, 03:22:27 am »
:-)  you need several boxes of the old stuff to make it worth doing.  you can save that old comb for swarm traps.

That sounds like a great idea.

By the way, how old does comb have to be to be considered "old" comb?

Offline rawfind

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2012, 06:43:14 pm »
I decided to try the chemical engineering approach. 

First I put some old comb on the end of the hive tool and stuck in directly in the flame.  It sizzled but did render a tiny bit of wax.  E a wax phase and aqueous phase, with the wax solidifying as it cooled.  In all I got a few table spoons of rendered wax from 3 frames worth of comb. 

The old frames that have had brood in wont yield much wax, make yourself a solar wax melter then just throw in what needs to be recycled ,  after a nice sunny day whatever inst melted is not going to melt , throw that out, its the easiest way i know.

Offline GeezLouise

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2012, 08:57:27 pm »
Would the old comb make a decent fire starter?
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2012, 01:16:38 am »
I pretty much isn't worth the trouble, but if you want to extract all the wax from brood combs that you can without a press (the best way) then put them in a cloth back and put a brick on them in the bottom of a pot of water and boil.  The wax will rise to the top and the cocoons will stay on the bottom.
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Offline beehappy1950

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Re: Melting old nasty comb
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2012, 12:00:11 pm »
Or you can take your old combs and use them to make larva from wax moths. They are very good fish bait and you might be able to sell them packaged to bait shops. My bait man said he wants my old comb. But keep your wax moths controlled. You can learn how to do this on you tube.