Friday, July 17, 2015

The Solar Wax Melter

Since the temps are now hitting the mid to upper 90's fairly steady and the sun has finally made an appearance around here it's time to break out the solar waxmelter. Since last year I have acquired a pretty good supply of burr comb and wax cappings that need to be rendered down into pure bees wax.

Believe it or not I have a fairly steady demand for the stuff. Aside from my own use which is to use it to coat the new frame foundation with an extra layer of bees wax that encourages the bees to build on it. I have also used it and sold/given it away to other reloaders for use as a bullet lube. One particular western shooter I know uses it to seal up the ends of his shotgun shells for his period shoots. A couple of seamstresses have gotten some from me to coat some water proof bags. One particular enterprising lady used some to coat a clothes pin bag that she leaves hanging on her line all the time and it gets rained on occasionally. The rendered and strained bees wax can also be used to make lip balms, furniture polish and many other items.

The design is pretty simple. Just a wooden box I banged together (and mis-measured so it ain't all that square to be honest). Which I lined with packing foam sheets I cut up. I glued the sheets into place but then also used some duct tape to line the edges with. I made the top from a sheet of plywood I cut the square hole out of with a  jig saw and then tacked a pane of picture glass (lightly frosted) to it kinda like a picture frame would be.

Inside is a pie pan with a deep pottery crock and some metal clips I dug up to hold the strainer and wax in place above the water.

I line the strainer with a layer of paper towels to help keep the melted wax and debris from clogging up the strainer holes. As the wax melts it strains through the towels and strainer into the water at the bottom of the crock where it floats and eventually forms into a pretty disc as the box cools. Sometimes it works perfectly like the disc above but other times it does come out bumpy or looking like a model of a mountain range. I assume cloudy days or days which are just barely hot enough cause this. Also when a cat jumps on the box they can disrupt the perfect hardening sequence.

I have tried various other containers and such to melt the wax into. The wax melter gets hot enough to melt plastic on really sunny days which is why I went to the pottery crock. Also if it isn't quite hot enough I will often get wax trapped above the debris like you see in the picture above. Typically I will break something like that apart and re-melt it on another date.

Years ago I used to wash and dry the wax before melting it but I found the time and trouble to be just too much. It helped get a more even disc during the melting and re-forming process but took way too long and removed a lot of the honey smell from it being mixed into the hardened disc.

Here's an older picture of some prepared wax ready to be melted. These days I just throw a glob of wax into the strainer and let it melt. The left over paper towels and wax covered debris also make some excellent firestarters for the Winter months too.

As it stands now I have almost two full 30 gallon Rubbermade totes of burr comb and wax capping to melt down this Summer. I am also starting about a month later than usual so it looks like the old solar wax melter is going to be getting a workout over the next few weeks.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!!


  1. OMG! all of that beeswaxes R belong to me!

    i would kill several small children to get my hands on that stuff! i use it to make all of my salves and lip balms. we get it from a local guy but i just know that your stuff is the bomb!

    sending much love, as always! your friend,
    kymber (who really wants some of your beeswax and honey!)

  2. Kymber is cracking me up :O)... But I have to admit I can totally understand her enthusiasm for your bee wax!

    With that much wax you could make a ton of candles! :O)

    Thanks for posting your box and how you made it and how it works :O)

    1. teehee Texan. there's a story behind it. one time PP left a comment on our blog about trout that said "All your troutses R belong to me" and it comes from an ancient japanese video game. i have been saying it back to PP ever since.

      but really All his honeys and beeswaxes R belongs to me! teehee.

  3. We make our own furniture polish with it here (not my own wax though) Just mix it with some turps and it makes a great polish you can build the layers with. I like the idea of a solar melter but I doubt it would get hot enough here for it.


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