July 17, 2024

At the Training Day,  I demonstrated using a slow cooker to warm and melt wax to render it down into a cleaner form. This article describes how to go about the process. This is the method that I have used over the winter but there are other ways to render down wax. The Association lends out steamers which are designed to process raw wax. Others use the ‘bain marie’ method which are double pans using hot water.

Whilst browsing in a charity shop, I came across a slow cooker at a very reasonable price. It has the capacity of 10 litres which equates to 5 to 6 lbs of wax when melted.
It will take several hours to melt the wax depending on the volume to be processed.
It is not advisable to render old brood comb as much of the melted wax is retained by the skins in the cells and very little useful wax is produced.

It is important to carry out this procedure in a safe area where spills will not have a serious impact on surrounding areas, e.g. kitchen! Also, use the low heat setting to warm the wax so that the wax is not overheated as it discolours the final product and represents a fire risk. Note that the flash point for beeswax is 204C which is higher than the temperature the low setting will reach.

You will need the following:

  1. Slow cooker (dedicated to wax rendering, do not use again for food)
  2. A wide metal can that has both ends removed (so wax can be poured through)
  3. Straining material (white garden fleece is very effective – obtainable from garden centres, or old tights)
  4. Container to receive the molten wax (old honey bucket is ideal).
  5. Small wooden frame to hold the open ended can above the container. Very easy to make at home.
  6. Rubber bands to hold the straining material over one end of the can.
  7. Thick waterproof and heat resistant gloves (hot wax on skin can result in serious burns)

Method

  1. Place the wax in the cooker and return the lid.
  2. Switch on the cooker. As the wax warms and settles it will sink in the bowl so more wax can be added.
  3. When ready to strain the melted wax, pour rain water into the container to a depth of 20mm or so. Do not use tap water as the chalk in the water reacts with the wax and spoils it.
  4. Place the wooden frame securely on the container and then place the can on the frame. See Figure 1.
  5. When the wax is melted pour it into the can. The wax will run through the straining material and into the container. Leave to cool down, which can take several hours.
    Important – gloves must be worn as the cooker and the wax will be hot.
  6. When the wax has set turn the container upside down to release the block of wax. It may need a tap or two to dislodge the block. See Figure 2.

Figure 1 Straining the wax:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2 The final product: