Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Washing beeswax

You are probably asking yourself, what in the world is she talking about! Well, let me tell you:) I posted about how I harvest honey in this post. In one of the last pictures I show you that there is a nice big bunch of wax left over from draining the honey. This wax is still quite tacky and sticky to the touch even after being allowed to sit for along time. I am always sooo busy with family that I actually let mine sit in the bucket for two months before I got back to it, and it still was! When the weather is good and the bees are flying, you can set this wax out for your bees and they will certainly go over it and do a good job of getting any residual honey off it they can! But if you still find it sticky or the weather is not such that the bees can help you clean it, you will need to wash it before using it for other things, like making salves. Trust me, I tried a small bit melted down, without washing it, and mixed in a bit of olive oil, as an experiment, and it just doesn’t work right! So… off to washing!


Get a big bowl or pan out and put the wax in it then add warm, not hot, water to it and swish it all around. I next use one of my honey strainers, but you could use cheesecloth or other small weave strainer, and put that strainer over another container to drain.


Now make sure and do not put either the first pans water nor this water down your drain! There will be enough of the wax in the water to slow your drains or even plug them!

You might have to do this wash/swish/drain procedure a couple of times to get your wax nice and clean but it is worth it because then you will have nice clean wax to start any of your future projects with!

My next step was to melt the wax. You will need to do this in a double boiler type of arrangement.


That picture shows freshly washed wax in the upper pot and in the bottom pot I just put a canning ring in the bottom to raise the upper pot off the heat, and then put some water in the bottom pot. Simmer gently, making sure there is enough water in the bottom pot not to got dry (you might have to add some periodically) and watching that it doesn’t go dry, nor bubble high enough to get water into your melting wax.


(Please overlook the dirty stove! Even when I clean it, I soon do some other thing that messes it right back up! You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly here!lol)

Even after washing the wax you might be surprised at the amount of debris that is still in it! The wax I did looked just gorgeous, but after it was melted, I strained it through cheesecloth and still got quite alot of debris from it! This is the set up I have. I just tie a string around a cheesecloth topped bowl to strain the melted wax.


And this is a picture of the debris!


Since I am just doing this for home use folks, I am sure there are other ways to do big batches. Since I like to leave my honey in the frame until I run out, I was just working with wax from 8 honey frames I had extracted. After it had been melted and strained I poured it into containers to set into blocks I could then use for making healing salves.




I know the top of the cooling wax looks dark in the mold pans, but that changes as it cools!

So that is washing and melting wax!

Big herbal and honey blessings to all of you who visit Comfrey Cottages:)



Anke said...

Very very interesting. I'd love to be able to be in the kitchen with you and watch you work.

Ananda said...

Beautiful!!!! I love those honeybees!!! Leslie your wax looks just the sweetest. thanks for sharing.

Comfrey Cottages said...

thanks for visiting anke and ananda! if you were here anke i would hand you an apron to help!lol ananda, you keep bees too don't you?

Comfrey Cottages said...

oh and big hugs to you both:)

Vegan Epicurean said...

Fascinating. This is something I have seen being a "city girl". I am with Anke I would love to be in the kitchen with you. We prefer to do things ourselves at my house. Thanks for sharing.


Comfrey Cottages said...

alicia, if you want me to mail you a little unprocessed wax to try i will gladly share:)

Vegan Epicurean said...

That is a very sweet offer. I would want to teach myself what to do with it first. But I will keep your offer in mind. You are too kind.


Comfrey Cottages said...

just let me know anytime alicia:) you can always just simply melt it and add olive oil, coconut oil or something to it to make a nice homemade salve:)

Comfrey Cottages said...

oh gosh alicia, how rude of me to not have realized that alot of vegans don't use honey or bee products! sorry if i offended you in any way! i myself am a vegetarian but try to use ethically raised and harvested egss and milk products. i try as hard as i can to do the bees organically and gently with much respect.

Vegan Epicurean said...

You make it sound so simple. As you can tell I haven't worked with beeswax before so I assumed it was much more complicated. Now I have something else to add to my "to be researched" list.

thanks again, and I will let you know,

*Ulrike* said...

That is such interesting tips! We have held onto bees wax before thinking about doing something with it. Now I know how to take care of it and make it nice and clean. What type of salves do you make? I am always finding out so many things from you! A great big thanks, and keep it coming!!
Take care! & Have a wonderful day!!

Lisa said...

Leslie, Fascinating! Really, this was so cool to read. What is the debris? I figure it might be from dust or the bees, but I never even considered you'd have to deal with debris in the wax.

Thank YOU for sharing! :)

Rita M said...

This is very interesting Leslie , thanks for sharing.

Comfrey Cottages said...

it is simple! it is just like most new things, just finding the time is the hard part!lol ulrike, i like to do different types of salves. my favorite, and one the working men with rough hands with tiny cuts love( as well as we less than dainty ladies:) ) is one that i make with olive oil that has been infused with comfrey, thyme and calendula. comfrey is a great healer and oh so easy to grow (if anyone wants to try next spring give a holler and i will send you a plant), calendula is what i consider the "real" marigold, and is healing and soothing in its own right. i add thyme for its antiseptic qualities as comfrey is such a good healer that it can seal an infection right in! this makes a nice salve for everyone actually, even a baby's bottom:)
lisa, the debris can be all sorts of stuff but alot of times little bee parts! i know that sounds gross, but bees don't live that long and normally the bees assigned the graveyard duty haul them out and dispose of them outside of the hive. debris can also just be the darkening that happens if you have reused the same honey super a few times. really no big deal.
i am going to be experimenting with adding organic coconut oil to the wax and will post about it when i do. as i will any of the experiments. i feel so honored that anyone is even interested:) i love to share so if anyone feels an urge to experiment, i will gladly share what i can:) big hugs to all of you:)
oh, one thing i tried with this last bunch of salve i made with the above recipe was to add lavender buds. i really did't like it though;( it smells better without that addition

Laura of said...

Dear Leslie, I choose you to be one of six blogs to pass along the Friendship Award to. I received it from Janet of Meatless Mama, and would like you to have it too! You can go to my blog and copy and paste the award for your use. I love your blog! xox ~Laura

Comfrey Cottages said...

oh laura, you are too kind!xoxoxoox

janet said...

That is fascinating! I grow calendula too, it's great stuff. I've made calendula oil, but never salve. I would love to live near you, you could give classes and teach me so much!

Comfrey Cottages said...

oh janet, i hope my posts are thorough enough you could do these things on your own. just holler if i am unclear on anything my friend:)

Comfrey Cottages said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
*Ulrike* said...

I may just try the comfrey next spring. I am also one of those less dainty girls who cannot keep her hands out of the dirt! I try gloves, but sometimes you just have get your hands dirty!!
Take Care!

Comfrey Cottages said...

lol birds of a feather ulrike:)