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Author Topic: Best way to process beeswax  (Read 263 times)

Offline omnimirage

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Best way to process beeswax
« on: January 12, 2018, 02:31:11 am »
There's lots of information on the web showing different techniques to process beeswax. Most of which, are more suitable for hobbyists with smaller amounts of beeswax. Currently, I have about ten 27 litres full of unprocessed beeswax. I'm not sure if I should build or purchase a solar melter, or just get a large pot and use a double boiler method. Some articles suggest to put the wax in some cheese cloth, then squeeze out any of the gunk with some tongs. Some suggest to simply use paint strainers or paper towels to filter it.

What works well and what doesn't work well?

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 05:54:24 am »
I prefer to use y solar wax melter. Put the wax in it and let nature do the work. Mine has a stainless steel pan that has a slot it in the bottom in one end. I put filter material in the slot for the filter.
I think I get a lot more wax this way compared to boiling. The sun also whitens the wax.
Jim
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Offline omnimirage

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 05:40:22 pm »
How would you get more wax in contrast to boiling?

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2018, 09:04:59 pm »
Omni,
When you boil the wax the comb and cocoon absorb the wax and don't release it. It is stuck in the slomgum. There are even companies that have figured out you to get the remaining wax out and get quite a bit out of it.
When you use the solar wax melter, what remains in the melter is very dry and he's little wax compared to a melting in a pot.
Jim

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Offline omnimirage

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2018, 10:23:34 pm »
Huh very interesting, if that's the case then I should build myself a solar melter on the account of efficiency huh.

Offline little john

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2018, 07:06:55 am »
I suspect (i.e. don't know for sure) that the highest percentage recovery method would be to boil, followed by some kind of steam-press to extract the very last drop of wax from the slum-gum - but - if you live in a country with plenty of sun, then I'd say that a solar melter is the way to go. 
Even if it doesn't extract the very last drop of wax, the use of a solar melter has to be the most efficient method, both in terms of energy use, convenience, and the quality of product obtained.
LJ
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Offline omnimirage

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2018, 10:34:14 pm »
Why quality of product? The sun is very hot here in Australia so I think that's the path I'm gonna take.

Offline little john

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2018, 07:10:20 pm »
Why quality of product?

All you need to do is provide some token means of filtration within the solar melter (say - paper tissue, or open-weave fabric) to create an efficient single-pass operation.  Some people even manage to achieve a fine product without such filtration.
The crud (slum-gum) always stays behind - so that when the melter has cooled, this can then be dumped.  The quality of wax recovered from a solar melter can be close to 100% pure, and thus can be used 'as is' or sold without any further processing.

In contrast - with boiling, you need to separate the slum-gum by hand during the process.  But some of this 'crud' is always retained within the wax, along with propolis and light particle dirt(*) - so purification of the wax often then becomes a two or even three-stage process.

(*)  The FatBeeMan has posted some YouTube videos related to his method of recovering wax - I'm pretty sure his process is 3 or even 4 stage.
LJ
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Offline omnimirage

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2018, 07:31:54 pm »
So it seems best for me to build a solar wax melter. I found this design:

http://beesource.com/build-it-yourself/solar-wax-melter/

I'm wondering if people have any experience or ideas on how to go about building a melter cheaply and effectively. I'm not so good at construction so with that plan, the hinges, the glass panel and the metal pan I'm rather unsure about. I have some glass panels from old car windows that I could use, if only I could find some metal for it to then sit on top of and work out a way of sealing it.

Offline paus

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2018, 08:55:38 pm »
I made my first wax melter from an old ice chest with no top.  I made a frame that slipped over the chest and screwed a ,piece of plexiglass to the frame, it worked,  I would recommend this as an experiment or first time to get the feel,

Online eltalia

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2018, 09:44:54 pm »

I'm wondering if people have any experience or ideas on how to go about building a melter cheaply and effectively. I'm not so good at construction so with that plan, the hinges, the glass panel and the metal pan I'm rather unsure about. I have some glass panels from old car windows that I could use, if only I could find some metal for it to then sit on top of and work out a way of sealing it.

....here ya go.

http://tinypic.com/r/29z4wom/9
A similar build was used back in the day up in the NT for melting down
shark to oil ... not by me but I got to see it working, very efficiently.


Bill

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2018, 03:07:50 pm »
If I were processing a lot of beeswax, I would keep these things in mind:

1) don't overheat the wax.  One solution is the solar wax melter.  Definitely you want water in the bottom or a double boiler, but 180 F wax will do better than 212 F wax.  Heat discolors the wax and loses some of the nice aromatics.

2) filtering wax is at best a two stage (or more) process.  First you want to get the big things out without losing too much wax.  Pressure or a press are helpful.  But this forces some dirt through the filter.  The second stage would be best with no pressure and a finer filter.  Also, sort the wax before hand.  Nice white cappings.  Slightly used darker wax that isn't too full of cocoons (just a few cocoons and not more than light brown in color).  And last, the black brood comb.  Throw away the black brood comb unless you have a press.  The cocoons will soak up all the wax.

3) wax should be put in a taller rather than shorter container.  The slumgum will be at the bottom and the taller and thinner the container the less waste when scraping off the slumgum.  For small quantities I like a half gallon milk carton.  I can easily peel it off the outside and it's taller than it is wide.  If making a container for this purpose, make it slightly tapered towards the bottom so you can remove it from the container after it cools.  Make it taller than it is wide.

For top quality wax, be willing to waste some in the scraping process.  You can throw that back in the poorer quality comb and maybe salvage some of it.

If you don't have a press you might try putting the combs in a fine cloth bag and put a rock or brick on the bag to hold it under the boiling water to extract the last of the wax.
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Online Acebird

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2018, 05:48:26 pm »
If you don't have a press you might try putting the combs in a fine cloth bag and put a rock or brick on the bag to hold it under the boiling water to extract the last of the wax.

Why does the water have to boil if the best wax is obtained by 180 degrees?
Brian Cardinal
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Offline omnimirage

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Re: Best way to process beeswax
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2018, 11:46:29 pm »
Great information Michael thanks. I think I'm just gonna build a solar wax melter solves that issue of not heating too high.