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.
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!!!!!!!!