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Author Topic: Help with solar wax melter  (Read 1244 times)

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Help with solar wax melter
« on: December 25, 2018, 04:41:35 pm »
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?

Offline paus

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2018, 07:48:22 pm »
I have been told by a lady that treasures every ounce of wax she recovers.  She told a group that she soaks all of the black comb in water before she put it in her melter.  The old cocoons don't soak up the wax if the comb is already saturated with water, this may explain the lack of wax you get.  The description of the  melter sounds as though you have it .

Online Skeggley

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2018, 08:00:30 pm »
Hi mate, the inside of the melter should be black as it absorbers more heat. White and silver will reflect it.
My melter gets up to 150?c and I only get trace wax from dark brood comb so rarely bother with it. I think if I mulched it I'd get more wax but the majority seems to be cocoons anyway.
My issue is regulating the temp to keep it at 80?c which seems to be the ideal temp for melting wax.

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2018, 04:06:29 am »
Why do you want it at 80 and not higher?

Online Skeggley

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2018, 04:29:17 pm »
Bees wax melts at 64?c and discolours at 85?c apparently.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeswax

Not looking too good over your way either, how are you seeing it? darn hot too...
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-24/bees-starving-in-sa-as-erratic-weather-takes-heavy-toll/10665656

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2018, 11:42:49 pm »
I didn't know that at a certain temperature it discolours. Suddenly this becomes a lot more difficult.

I will wash the dirty wax next time thanks for the tip.

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2018, 03:28:34 am »
You may be overlooking that the dark wax from brood comb, much of it is not wax at all.  It is cocoons from multiple cycles of brood. In the wax business we call it slum gum. There is good clean beautiful wax in there that is easily cleaned up. 

Your wax melter is probably working just fine. The problem is that the cocoons, the slum gum, does not melt. The most effective way to separate wax from the cocoons is to press it out under hot water. The equipment and method depends how much you have to do of course but here goes, for assuming small batches of the stuff:  get a vat or stock pot that is 2x larger than the amount of slum gum to be done.  Fill it 1/3 to 1/2 with water and set it to a simmering boil.  Put the slum gum in a porous bag, filter bag, such as burlap or cheese cloth. The bag should be a teeny bit bigger than the blob of slum gum, snug but loose if that makes sense. Tie the bag tightly closed. Push it under water to the bottom of the pot. Squish and firmly press the bag (hard!) repeatedly under the hot water. The wax will come out of the cocoons and rise to the top of the water. When you think its done, put a weight on the bag to keep it at the bottom of the pot. Let the water continue to boil for a few more minutes. Turn the heat off. When the boiling stops and while still very hot, ladle the wax layer off the top of the water.  Remelt and strain the wax through filter clothe (refining) as many times as you want until it is clean and clear enough to your liking.

Hope that helps!
« Last Edit: December 28, 2018, 03:56:02 am by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2019, 01:58:59 am »
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?

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2019, 02:19:16 pm »
It is pollens, trace amounts of honey, and resins(propolis) that cause the yellow and other colors of wax.  Wax that is white/pale has less.
The dark grains on the bottom of the wax chunks are bits of bees, dust, propolis, and other.

In simplest format, wax rendering and end use is a 4 stage process:
Stage 1: Bulk Melt.  Removes the wax from frames, scraps, wires, etc, etc, etc,. Yields bulk chunks of wax with some impurities embedded. This is what your solar wax melter does best.
Stage 2: Remelt and Stratification. Separates the wax from other liquids, sand, dust, slum gum fines, other impurities. Yields near pure wax which is mainly light yellow to orange determined by colors of the pollens that are still entrained.
Stage 3: Remelt and Filtering. Removes ultra fine dust particles and pollens. Wax is passed through multistage strainers or pressure filters. Yields purer wax which is nearly white.
Stage 4: Remelt and Molding.  Yields whatever you are making out of the wax.  Candels, balms, body butters, sculptures, whatever.

For most users, stage 2 rendering, stratification, is good enough. Meaning layer out the impurities. Select a pan, pail, tub, whatever shape you want the bulk block to end up as. Add water so there will is 5 to 10cm or more of water in bottom. Add the wax chunks. Heat the container to melt the wax. When completely melted, give it a stir, then remove the heat and let it solidify slowly. The wax will layer as follows.
Top, 1, wax
2 slumgum fines, trash or fertilizer
3 honey, overheated/cooked, bakers honey or trash (do NOT feed to bees!, poisonous HMF)
4 water, trash

Take the solidified wax block out, flip it over, scrape/shave the brown stuff off the bottom and trash it. You are left with a clean pure wax block.
The lower liquid layers are also trash.

PS there is no such thing as overheated wax.  Temperature does not change the properties or color of the wax. What is changing color is the honey and pollens in the wax as they are being cooked by the temperature.  *** Monitor and control the temperature of the melters. Very hot wax is extremely flammable. Above 200 degC the wax can and will flash, self ignite, and burns violently.

Hope that helps!
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 04:15:20 pm by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2019, 06:37:44 pm »
SAB,
Solar wax melters do a very good job of bleaching the wax. When my wife wants real white wax, I run the wax through the solar wax melter several times.
Jim

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2019, 09:00:39 pm »
HoneyPump, I didn't realise that there was a stage 2-3.

Should I not put the beeswax back in the solar wax melter, with a clean, fresh paper cloth to filter out the bad stuff? It seems that you are suggesting that I should use the solar wax melter for stage one, but to heat the wax in a pan for something else for stage 2-3?

Interesting that the solar wax melter bleaches it.

Offline robirot

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2019, 01:45:54 pm »
The solar was melter bleaches the wax, die to the UV light from the sun, which breaks down the organic coloring agents.

When heating beeswax, you can overheat way, since some components can't stay to much heat. Thats why beeswax is commonly treated at 120?C for half an hour to destroy AFB spores, the old method of heating to 160?C is not recommended (also cause it is above the flashpoint). Often this is also done und er pressure.
But in normal beekeepers condutions you wan't overheat it.

For melting combs, you got three options:
1. dry melting --> Solar wax melter. Great for melting combs during the season, without to much hassle. Just place the frame or cut comb in the melter, and take it out when finished and hot again (if cold it is a lot more work to remove the debris that still is attached).
Problem is that you can usally only process a limited ammount of comb. Less wax then wet methods. Not usable for plastic foundation or comb.

2. Steam melting. Works always, allready good ammount of wax harvested. Depending on your setup it can take long or be fast. If you go this route and have more then 50 hives, have a look into a steam comb spinner.

All you need to setup a wax melter, is a steam generator and a old hive with solid bottom board or plastic/metall bucket.

Put the combs in, put the steam tube into mid, about half height and catch the wax that leaves though the entrance (for the bucket method you need to cut a hole into the bottom rim about 1" diameter).

To increase the ammount of wax gained, soak the combs two days in water. The water in the dark combs forces some more wax out of the black residues while it starts to evaporate or process like in #3.

Also works with most plastic combs.

3. Melting in boiling water.
Go on craigslist or eBay and get yourself a press for apples and fruits.
 
Take a pot, add some water and throw in all your cut out comb and collected debris from steam and solar melter.
Bring everything to a nice boil. Now take a strainer and fish out the rough debris and put into the press with a bag. Press the comb and there you got a good ammount of wax. A 3 gallon press is usally all you need for up to 200 hives.

You can also melt combs with frame in a water bath, but the problem with that, is that you got layer of wax on top of the water, and then end up a sometimes quite thick layer or wax on the frames, that needs to be removed again.



Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 06:09:35 am »
Fantastic information robirot thanks. Could you please elaborate on this part?
Quote
To increase the ammount of wax gained, soak the combs two days in water. The water in the dark combs forces some more wax out of the black residues while it starts to evaporate or process like in #3.

Am I supposed to discard the water afterwards? Or does the wax seap into the water, and I'm supposed to let it all evaporate?

Offline robirot

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 06:16:12 am »
Fantastic information robirot thanks. Could you please elaborate on this part?
Quote
To increase the ammount of wax gained, soak the combs two days in water. The water in the dark combs forces some more wax out of the black residues while it starts to evaporate or process like in #3.

Am I supposed to discard the water afterwards? Or does the wax seap into the water, and I'm supposed to let it all evaporate?
No wax dosn't dissolve into water, but the water makes a good fertilizer.

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2019, 06:26:35 am »
So let the dark comb soak in water, then discard the water and put the washed comb into the solar wax melter? This will give me higher wax output?

Offline robirot

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2019, 06:30:27 am »
I don't know if it works with a solar wax melter. Could also happen that there the comb only dries. I only know about the steam melter.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Help with solar wax melter
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2019, 08:23:46 am »
SAB,
Normally when you melt the wax in old comb the webbing and pollen act as a wick and suck up the wax and does not release it. Presoaking helps to stop the wicking and allows the wax to come out.
Jim