In my line of work, I am privileged to meet a lot of wonderful people. Recently, I met a beautiful family with an interesting pastime - beekeeping!
Hand soap and lip balm are two things I have made for my family and friends. As it goes, beeswax is an ingredient in my hand soaps and lip balms! I felt a connection there... After some inspiring talk about hand-crafted goods, I found myself handing over some of my newly made soap. In return, I was given a plastic bag full of the beeswax scrapings of a honeycomb harvest. There was beeswax in the bag, along with some honey, bee parts, and some other unidentifiable stuff. I wanted to use this beeswax in my hand-made products, but I had to get it cleaned up. Here's how I did it.
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Step 1: Things You'll Need
- Raw beeswax
- Slow cooker with lid
- Slow cooker liners, big plastic bags that fits inside the slow cooker
- Bowls and utensils
- 1 pair knee-high nylon stockings, 3 pair for $1 at a discount store
Step 2: Soak the Wax Scrapings in Water
The scrapings smelled and tasted delicious. Yes, I nibbled on a bit of the waxy material in the bag. I did my best to avoid the bees and bee parts in the mixture. It was a lot like chewing honey-flavored wax lips; The kind I used to get from the corner store for a nickel. Once the flavor was gone, I spent the next several minutes picking bits of wax from between my teeth.
- Break up the material, place into a bowl, add cold water, and soak for an hour or so. The honey will dissolve into the water and the heavier impurities will drop to the bottom.
Step 3: Skim the Floating Wax From the Water
- Gently skim the wax from the top of the water bath and place into one of the nylon stockings. This will become the filter system. I used a sauce pan to hold the stocking for me.
- Tie a knot into the open end of the stocking.
- Double-bag it! Place the tied up stocking into the other stocking and tie it up.
Step 4: Set Up the Slow Cooker and Turn on the Heat
- Place a liner into the slow cooker. Then, put another liner inside the first. Double-bag it! Beeswax is stubborn. Once it is melted, it sticks to and holds onto nearly anything it touches. Avoid splashes and spills.
- Fill the slow cooker with water to about one-third full.
- Add the stuffed stocking to the slow cooker.
- Set the slow cooker to medium heat and cover.
- The water in the pot will get hot and melt the wax. The wax will flow out of the stockings and float on the water. The stockings will act as a filter and keep the "other stuff" from getting out into the wax.
- Monitor the progress. Adjust the heat as needed. Turn the bag from time to time. Do not squeeze the bag! "Other stuff" juice will get into your wax. You do not want that in your wax. It took my cooker 2 hours to completely melt the wax.
Step 5: Remove the Filter and Let the Wax Cool
- Turn off the cooker and gently remove the stocking filter. Remember not to squeeze the filter. Set the stocking onto something like a piece of cardboard or aluminum foil that can later be recycled. Avoid using your favorite dinner plates. Melted beeswax is stubborn. It sticks to everything. Everywhere. For a long time.
- Allow the wax to cool and harden. I let mine cool overnight.
- Lift the hardened wax from the water.
- Empty the water and remove the liners from the slow cooker. The liners make clean-up easy!
- Use your fresh beeswax to do something extraordinary!
Step 6: Final Results and Thanks
I am pleased with the results of my first beeswax rendering. Starting with 132 grams of material, I ended up with 112 grams of beeswax and 12 grams of "other stuff". I expect that the 8 grams missing from the total is the honey and other debris that was washed away during the cold-water wash.
Special thanks to Terry and Bob, who thoughtfully gave me the opportunity to try something new!