Monday, June 30, 2014

Making beeswax

OK so the credit must of course go to the bees rather than me for actually making the beeswax.... All I've done is just clean it up and let it solidify into nice blocks which I can then use for all sorts of crafts.

I was very fortunate to be given a lot of "cappings" from a local beekeeper. Cappings, from my limited knowledge of  beekeeping  - so correct me if I'm wrong,  are essentially bits of the honeycomb and are leftover from when the honey is extracted. From the photos below I will show you how to process these cappings and turn them into lovely blocks of pure beeswax. It is an easy process, albeit time consuming and a bit messy. 

First off I soaked the cappings in a bucket of water overnight to help wash off the honey residue. I strained the cappings and then put them into my rice cooker with a cup or so of water. I hasten to add that I will no longer be using this rice cooker for cooking rice since it is near impossible to clean all the wax off (even if I wanted to try)! You will notice I've put newspaper down to protect the garage floor, just in case of any spills.

Next I put some water in my rice cooker, maybe a cup or so, then filled up the pan with cappings. I turned the cooker on to "cook" to melt the wax. This happens quite fast, maybe 20 or so minutes. I turned the pan often to agitate the wax to allow for better melting. I should note that it is necessary to keep a close eye on the wax during this process, as it can eaisly boil and there is a risk of it catching fire. If it looked close to boiling, I turned it to the "warm" function. When it was completely melted, I turned the cooker off altogether.

Next step was to fill the molds with wax. I used a combination of old milk cartons and some square plastic containers that used to contain baking soda (400g). The milk cartons did not require any priming but I sprayed the plastic ones with oil to help with the removal of the hardened wax later.
Using my ladle with handy pourer I scooped out wax and ladled it into the molds straining it through muslin that I had secured over the tops of the containers using a rubber band.

Once all the wax was used up, the molds were filled, the wax was left to cool and harden (overnight).
I removed the wax from the molds and repeated the process until I had used up all of the cappings.
So that's basically one way to process beeswax. I will probably melt and strain it all again before using to clean it up even more. I will say this though, it takes a lot of cappings to get a decent amount of wax. From twice filling the rice cooker I got 810g of wax.

NOTE- The water added to the pan separates from the wax and can easily be drained away. I did this into a bucket and put it on the garden. For all the cleaning up afterwards too, I used a bucket and very hot water. The used muslin and the 'brown gunk' left behind from cleaning the wax went into the compost. As you would imagine, it is not a good idea to tip anything from this process down your sink as once cooled any wax will block up your plumbing!

Now I have a good amount of wax to use in various craft projects, lip balm, hand cream, candles (maybe tealights to start off) etc.

Have you processed beeswax? How did you do it? What do you use it for?


Charlotte Scott said...

And isn't the smell the best part of beeswax? Mmmmm.

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Yes it sure does smell wonderful :-)

Tanya Murray said...

This is a great post and the pictures are very helpful. I would like to add it to my post on additional salve making. One thing I am confused about is the water. Does that separate in the mould when cooled and when you take them out of the mould does that just run off?

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Hi Tanya, oops, I forgot to mention that. Yes it separates in the mould and I just drained it off. Thanks I will amend my post.