Friday, March 19, 2010

Straining Beeswax

First you'll need a giant block of wax from your awesomest beekeeping friends.  My awesome beekeeping friends are Waibels.  This wax is from their Pinconning bees.  Be ready with something strong to break it into pieces.  As you can tell from the picture I posted yesterday I had to resort to the giant screwdriver and the mallet.  But it certainly got the job done.

You'll also need a double boiler.  If you have a real double boiler that's devoted to crafting, that would be awesome.  I don't, so this is my compromise.  The cookie cutters keep the pouring pot off the direct heat.  That's important, because wax has a combustion point, and if you get it too hot, it'll burst into flame.  To be safe, have some baking soda on hand in case of fire.  Wax fires are like grease fires, in that they'll spread if you through water on them.

The pouring pot sits on the cookie cutters with water about a third to halfway up the sides.  I got my pour pot at a thrift store.  I don't know what it's for originally but it works great for wax melting, since it's tall and has two handles and a good spout.  They sell nice melting pots at Michael's in the soapmaking and candle aisle.  Those are not too expensive, especially if you have one of those 50% off coupons.

It's definately worth having some dedicated crafting things for a job like this.  The wax can get messy, and it's not too easy to get all the way off of things.  The pot that holds the water as the bottom of the double boiler will end up getting some wax it it too.  It's not as hard to get clean, since it's just a little bit.  All it takes is to warm up the pot to melt the residue, and wipe it out with paper towels.  Make sure to dump the water outside, just in case there's a lot of wax in it, so the drain doesn't get plugged up.

I set up my strainer by pinning a bunch of layers of cheesecloth to the top of a sawed off orange juice carton.

After the wax is all melted, I just poured it through the cheesecloth.  Mr. Waibel strains the wax before it goes in the big blocks.  If it hadn't been strained once already, there'd probably have been more bees and things in it.

Make sure to pour the wax over newspaper, but never over the sink.  I also put the carton in this old pan to make sure that if it leaked, there'd be some containment for that mess.  I had two cartons full of wax after melting and straining it all.

After the wax hardens, it's easy to just tear the carton right off of it.  I used my bench scrape to cut it into one lb chunks before it got rock solid.  That was a little messy, since it was still pretty sticky inside.  Also, make sure it's not liquid in the middle still.  That would be a mess!

Here is my cut up wax.  The one with the big scoop out of it is because I didn't get it cut quite in half, and I had to move wax from one block to the other block to get them both to weigh a pound.

ETA: It also makes the house smell wonderful!  Like honey, sweetness, pollen, and my formative teenage years bottling honey with Julie!

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