Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's Solar Wax Melting Time Again





Once the temps stay consistently up into the 80's and I can count on the sun shining most all day it is time to break out the Solar Wax Melter once again.  For today they weren't forecasting any clouds or rain until evening at the earliest with a high of 87 degrees. A perfect day to render up some of this burr comb and squeezed out capping I have from working the bees and harvesting honey.

Excess bees wax is pure gold let me tell you.




Some people would have you wash your wax off and then spread it out to dry. I used to do it this way because it will keep you from getting any excess honey melted into your wax. Then I got to thinking for what I use 90% of my melted and filtered wax for it's really just a useless step. These days I mostly just chuck the honey coated wax into the melter although I will do a washed amount every year for the smaller stuff.

Most all of the wax I use goes to coating the new frames or foundation I put into new hives. If you brush on a nice layer of honey infused melted wax onto those frames the girls will start building on it much faster than if you only use the light coating it comes with.  Occasionally I will pour a beeswax candle or two and I don't mind some honey mixed into those either as it adds to the aroma I am looking for anyway. I also use my melted wax as a flux when casting bullets and occasionally as a bullet lube ingredient as well.



You can see my entire inner working in this picture. The pie pan catches any wax that might drip around the crock and melt the foam lining in the box. The little crock is filled with about an inch or so of water to allow the wax to harden on as it floats. I use a simple strainer with the handle cut off and then line it with a paper towel and fill the thing with bits of burr comb and honey frame cappings. Put the lid on it and let the sun do it's work. Between the paper towel and the strainer most all the junk is filtered out leaving me almost 100% pure bees wax. On a really hot day I can get two or three loads done if I am around to watch it but usually I fill up one strainer worth and let it go all day moving it into the shade in the afternoon to cool off slowly and harden.

Once the disk of wax hardens you can push on it with your finger to dislodge it and remove the whole thing from the crock of water. One reason I use a straight sided crock.

I then put the wax disks into plastic baggies and store it for use all year long.

This year so far I have about two full 5 gallon buckets of comb and cappings to melt down mostly due to the cut out I did back in March.

No sustainable Beekeeper should be without a solar wax melter. In a grid down situation excess bees wax melted and filtered will be worth more than gold I imagine. You can do so much with it.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


16 comments:

  1. Very nice! Where do you get those neat clips that are holding the strainer up?

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    1. MV - That's a good catch. I should have mentioned those. I scratched my head for days trying to figure a way to keep my strainer for sitting too deep in that crock. The wife finally solved the problem. Those metal clips are some type of old style clothes pin that her grandma had and she inherited. They fit the lip on that crock perfectly.

      Whether you can still find these old cloths pins is an unknown factor though.

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  2. Do you sell your honey? About how much are you getting per year from how many hives, if you don't mind me asking

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    1. Lw - It varies so much depending on the year I have never actually run the numbers for an average. I started too once, as much as I run numbers I couldn't resist, then we had that drought and I lost so many hives I haven't really made a dime or sold much since. Mostly what I get these days goes to a few allergy customers and then a couple of others who pretty much take all I can get.

      I am now back up to 15 hives but only 4 of those are older than two years and producing. Later this season I should have another 6 hives coming into production range and have a better idea on yields.

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  3. I like that solar device, that thing will work for years with no maintenance or energy use.

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    1. Sf - The only real issue I have seen with it is the cheap foam insulation I used which is actually just packing from a freezer. If the melted wax drips onto the foam, it melts.... I really should reline it with studier insulated foam.

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  4. So you have cast honey filled hollow tips? Very cool! Not many people can say that.

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    1. Russ - Heh I have heard rumors that Liberals react to raw honey not inspected by the government like Werewolves do to silver. Gotta be prepared :)

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  5. When you make a beeswax candle with some honey still in it, does it clog up the wick or effect the burn in any way? It does not get hot enough here for a solar melter....Darn it,

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    1. Tewshooz - I have never noticed any large pockets of honey left in a candle I have made. When I make a candle I used the same solar melter but fill a glass jar with wax flakes. Because of the air displacement I need to heat the candle twice to get it full. My guess is the honey floats on top and pretty much continues to dry out.

      If I use a candle mold then I am re-melting the wax again in a small electric crock pot I use so I assume the honey separates as well in there. To tell you the truth I have never really had an issue with the honey being mixed in with the wax which is why I pretty much stopped washing the wax chunks.

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    2. I have to add too that I think a lot of the excess honey I didn't wash off either goes into the water and stays there or is caught in the paper towel because after the melting process I never feel anything sticky like honey remaining. So maybe the truth is the washing process is a waste under the heat anyway.... Not sure myself.

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  6. PP,

    Nice setup you have there. Making candles with the wax how neat, you can also use this wax to make lotions.

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    1. Sandy - Ya lotions and lip balm and such. Even a chewing gum. Someday I might expand into those areas as well. Honestly unless you have a number of hives you never really get that much excess comb. It's only the last year or so I have enough to start thinking about other projects.

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  7. That is so darn neat.....big smile here.

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