How To Clean And Filter Your Beeswax

How To Clean And Filter Your Beeswax

Did you know honey bees need to consume fifty pounds of honey to produce ten pounds of beeswax? After you harvest honey, or whenever you find yourself with any leftover, unusable wax comb, don’t dispose of it—you can harvest beeswax too! 

If you are interested in selling or trading it, beeswax is generally worth more per pound than honey, or you can use it for many fun, practical, and profitable projects. Humans have been harvesting and using honey and honeycomb for thousands of years.

Did you know honey bees need to consume fifty pounds of honey to produce ten pounds of beeswax? After you harvest honey, or whenever you find yourself with any leftover, unusable wax comb, don’t dispose of it—you can harvest beeswax too! 

If you are interested in selling or trading it, beeswax is generally worth more per pound than honey, or you can use it for many fun, practical, and profitable projects. Humans have been harvesting and using honey and honeycomb for thousands of years.

Interesting fact: Queen bees and drone bees do not have wax glands.

Worker Bees Produce Beeswax

When worker bees are between twelve and eighteen days old, they develop eight wax-producing glands in their abdomen (four pairs). These glands form wax scales; bees remove and chew the scales to create a malleable ball of wax that they can use to build their honeycomb. It takes about 1100 scales to make one gram of wax. That is ridiculous that they can make so much wax just by using their bodies. 

The hexagonal cells that bees build with the wax they produce are the most efficient use of the materials and space they have available. No space is wasted, and they use as little wax as possible.

This is why you see the hexagon shape used everywhere, from building airplanes to shipping boxes. It’s the strongest shape with the least amount of cost. 

Interesting fact: Queen bees and drone bees do not have wax glands.

Worker Bees Produce Beeswax

When worker bees are between twelve and eighteen days old, they develop eight wax-producing glands in their abdomen (four pairs). These glands form wax scales; bees remove and chew the scales to create a malleable ball of wax that they can use to build their honeycomb. It takes about 1100 scales to make one gram of wax. That is ridiculous that they can make so much wax just by using their bodies. 

The hexagonal cells that bees build with the wax they produce are the most efficient use of the materials and space they have available. No space is wasted, and they use as little wax as possible.

This is why you see the hexagon shape used everywhere, from building airplanes to shipping boxes. It’s the strongest shape with the least amount of cost. 

When bees are building honey or brood comb, they will hang on to each other, creating a chain or a scaffold of bees that suspends over the area they are building.  It has been suggested that it is a way for the bees to measure space, but they always work together by hanging from one another when making the comb. 

It’s like a bucket brigade, but for honey bees. 

When bees build their comb, they make this distinctive chain (festooning), building their comb in what appears to be circles. You can see the rounded shape of this fresh honey comb built by the bees, which is a result of the rounded chain of bees that formed it.

When bees are building honey or brood comb, they will hang on to each other, creating a chain or a scaffold of bees that suspends over the area they are building.  It has been suggested that it is a way for the bees to measure space, but they always work together by hanging from one another when making the comb. 

It’s like a bucket brigade, but for honey bees. 

When bees build their comb, they make this distinctive chain (festooning), building their comb in what appears to be circles. You can see the rounded shape of this fresh honey comb built by the bees, which is a result of the rounded chain of bees that formed it.

Harvesting Beeswax

Harvesting Beeswax

Beekeepers can get beeswax comb in several different ways, and probably when there is enough for you to render, there will be several different forms of it in your melter. When you harvest your honey, you’ll have a comb as a by-product, and during your regular hive inspections and maintenance, you can easily collect more.

It’s common for beekeepers to collect wax for several years and store it in 5-gallon buckets or in a freezer until they have enough comb to make processing worth the effort. 

Beeswax can be collected from the bees in several different ways. 

Beekeepers can get beeswax comb in several different ways, and probably when there is enough for you to render, there will be several different forms of it in your melter. When you harvest your honey, you’ll have a comb as a by-product, and during your regular hive inspections and maintenance, you can easily collect more.

It’s common for beekeepers to collect wax for several years and store it in 5-gallon buckets or in a freezer until they have enough comb to make processing worth the effort. 

Beeswax can be collected from the bees in several different ways. 

Harvesting Burr Comb And Cappings

When inspecting hives, sometimes it will be necessary to scrape off burr comb—comb that is built in places the beekeeper doesn’t want it—and the burr comb can be collected.

It might be a good idea to carry a designated wax collection bucket or bag out to your apiary when you do your hive inspections, then transfer that comb to the freezer until you can render it.

When there is a honey harvest, the cut cappings from an extracted honey harvest or the wax from a crush-and-strain honey harvest are abundant and relatively clean sources of beeswax. Honeycomb is usually cleaner and easier to render than brood comb because there are no cocoons, and the wax is fresher. This wax is very desirable for cosmetic products or other products that require uncontaminated wax.

Harvesting Burr Comb And Cappings

When inspecting hives, sometimes it will be necessary to scrape off burr comb—comb that is built in places the beekeeper doesn’t want it—and the burr comb can be collected.

It might be a good idea to carry a designated wax collection bucket or bag out to your apiary when you do your hive inspections, then transfer that comb to the freezer until you can render it.

When there is a honey harvest, the cut cappings from an extracted honey harvest or the wax from a crush-and-strain honey harvest are abundant and relatively clean sources of beeswax. Honeycomb is usually cleaner and easier to render than brood comb because there are no cocoons, and the wax is fresher. This wax is very desirable for cosmetic products or other products that require uncontaminated wax.

Old Brood Comb And Dead Hives

When honeybees use brood comb for many years, the buildup of cocoons and years of honeybee footprints will turn the comb brown. Beekeepers often retire this comb after years of use and replace it with new foundation for bees to build on. The buildup of old cocoons makes the cells smaller, and chemicals from varroa mite treatments and other contaminants will build up in the comb, so it is a healthy practice to retire the old comb and replace it with new foundation every five years or so.

One of the best ways to get clean wax out of dirty comb is buy using steam. Using steam works year around and doesn’t require the sun like a solar wax melter. When using stem, you can use a simple steam generator for clothes to generate the steam. 

Placing the brood comb in a closed container like a wax tank or bucket and piping steam into it allows the wax and pollen to melt away from the brood comb. Some of the water from the steam and the wax will collect on the bottom of the container. Lifting the brood comb off the bottom or having a valve on the bottom would allow the melted wax and water to come out. 

Old Brood Comb And Dead Hives

When honeybees use brood comb for many years, the buildup of cocoons and years of honeybee footprints will turn the comb brown. Beekeepers often retire this comb after years of use and replace it with new foundation for bees to build on. The buildup of old cocoons makes the cells smaller, and chemicals from varroa mite treatments and other contaminants will build up in the comb, so it is a healthy practice to retire the old comb and replace it with new foundation every five years or so.

One of the best ways to get clean wax out of dirty comb is buy using steam. Using steam works year around and doesn’t require the sun like a solar wax melter. When using stem, you can use a simple steam generator for clothes to generate the steam. 

Placing the brood comb in a closed container like a wax tank or bucket and piping steam into it allows the wax and pollen to melt away from the brood comb. Some of the water from the steam and the wax will collect on the bottom of the container. Lifting the brood comb off the bottom or having a valve on the bottom would allow the melted wax and water to come out. 

Because of all these cocoons in the wax, brood comb can be very messy to clean, and a lot of wax is lost in the process. Using a tall tank with heated water is helpful with brood comb.The brood comb/cocoons are held on the bottom of the tank, and as the wax melts, it floats to the top of the tank. Also, a solar wax melter works great with brood comb as well. 

Because of all these cocoons in the wax, brood comb can be very messy to clean, and a lot of wax is lost in the process. Using a tall tank with heated water is helpful with brood comb.The brood comb/cocoons are held on the bottom of the tank, and as the wax melts, it floats to the top of the tank. Also, a solar wax melter works great with brood comb as well. 

Storing Beeswax Until Processing

Storing Beeswax Until Processing

If you are not going to process your harvested wax or old comb immediately, it is a good idea to compress it as much as possible and then freeze it. Wax moths will find it and destroy it if you don’t. If you aren’t able to store it long-term in a freezer, then freeze it and immediately put it in some sort of sealed container.

For more information about storing your bee equipment over winter, read our blog How to Store Beekeeping Equipment for Winter.

If you are not going to process your harvested wax or old comb immediately, it is a good idea to compress it as much as possible and then freeze it. Wax moths will find it and destroy it if you don’t. If you aren’t able to store it long-term in a freezer, then freeze it and immediately put it in some sort of sealed container.

For more information about storing your bee equipment over winter, read our blog How to Store Beekeeping Equipment for Winter.

Supplies Needed For Cleaning Beeswax

Search for and gather these supplies before you start processing your wax.

  1. A place outdoors or in a space where the mess you will make won’t ruin anything.
  2. A pot in which you will melt the wax. This pot could be a double boiler, crock pot, or multi-cooker that you will never use for any other purpose, as it will probably forever have wax and slumgum on it.
  3. spider strainer for scooping large debris from melted beeswax.
    Read: How to Store Beekeeping Equipment for Winter
  4. Bucket
  5. Honey strainer
  6. Gloves or potholders for handling hot pots
  7. Boiling or very hot water—possibly from an electric teapot
  8. Containers in which to cool wax
  9. Strainer Kit
  10. Mold or molds for the filtered wax

Supplies Needed For Cleaning Beeswax

Search for and gather these supplies before you start processing your wax.

  1. A place outdoors or in a space where the mess you will make won’t ruin anything.
  2. A pot in which you will melt the wax. This pot could be a double boiler, crock pot, or multi-cooker that you will never use for any other purpose, as it will probably forever have wax and slumgum on it.
  3. spider strainer for scooping large debris from melted beeswax.
    Read: How to Store Beekeeping Equipment for Winter
  4. Bucket
  5. Honey strainer
  6. Gloves or potholders for handling hot pots
  7. Boiling or very hot water—possibly from an electric teapot
  8. Containers in which to cool wax
  9. Strainer Kit
  10. Mold or molds for the filtered wax

Cleaning, Rendering, And Filtering, Step By Step

Raw wax comb and cappings will be sticky and contain with residual honey, cocoons, and other debris. You will need to clean this dirty beeswax before you can use it. You will find descriptions of ways to rinse and wash wax by submerging it in water baths, spraying cold water through hoses, and other complex processes, but cleaning beeswax does not have to be complicated. There are lots of ways and the method you use to clean your wax usually depends on your resources and how much wax you need to clean. 

The melting point of beeswax is approximately 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
The discoloration point of beeswax is approximately 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
The flash point of beeswax is approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cleaning, Rendering, And Filtering, Step By Step

Raw wax comb and cappings will be sticky and contain with residual honey, cocoons, and other debris. You will need to clean this dirty beeswax before you can use it. You will find descriptions of ways to rinse and wash wax by submerging it in water baths, spraying cold water through hoses, and other complex processes, but cleaning beeswax does not have to be complicated. There are lots of ways and the method you use to clean your wax usually depends on your resources and how much wax you need to clean. 

The melting point of beeswax is approximately 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
The discoloration point of beeswax is approximately 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
The flash point of beeswax is approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melting Beeswax

You need to know that wax is very flammable, and wax fires are difficult to extinguish. The melting point of wax is 145 degrees F, and it is best not to let the wax get too far above that. Heating beeswax more than 185 degrees F for an extended time can cause darkening/discoloration. Heating beeswax to 400 degrees F or more will cause it to burst into flames. It is not a good practice to melt beeswax over an open flame.

You can gently melt beeswax cappings, old comb, and burr comb in a stainless steel or aluminum double-boiler, ceramic crock pot, or multi-cooker, keeping the temperature low. You will want a dedicated wax melting pot, as that pot will never be the same after you use it to melt beeswax. Parchment paper laid out around your work area will help to make your cleanup easier.

Melting Beeswax

You need to know that wax is very flammable, and wax fires are difficult to extinguish. The melting point of wax is 145 degrees F, and it is best not to let the wax get too far above that. Heating beeswax more than 185 degrees F for an extended time can cause darkening/discoloration. Heating beeswax to 400 degrees F or more will cause it to burst into flames. It is not a good practice to melt beeswax over an open flame.

You can gently melt beeswax cappings, old comb, and burr comb in a stainless steel or aluminum double-boiler, ceramic crock pot, or multi-cooker, keeping the temperature low. You will want a dedicated wax melting pot, as that pot will never be the same after you use it to melt beeswax. Parchment paper laid out around your work area will help to make your cleanup easier.

It may be a good idea to complete this messy process of melting, filtering, and rendering beeswax outdoors or in a workshop space other than your kitchen if that is a possibility for you. It’s funny that a cleaning process can make such a mess. This method works really well and can be repeated as many times as necessary to get the wax as clean as you desire.

It may be a good idea to complete this messy process of melting, filtering, and rendering beeswax outdoors or in a workshop space other than your kitchen if that is a possibility for you. It’s funny that a cleaning process can make such a mess. This method works really well and can be repeated as many times as necessary to get the wax as clean as you desire.

Add Hot Water To The Wax

Add Hot Water To The Wax

Add some water to the melting pot that is the same temperature as—or hotter than—the melting beeswax. Use an electric teapot or heat the water on a stove. Stir the wax and water together as the wax begins to melt. Adding heated water will make it easier to melt the wax, will prevent the wax from getting hotter than 212 degrees F, and as the wax block hardens, much of the debris will settle in the water, helping the cleansing process.

Never never, never add water to a pot of already melted wax that is still being heated. Wax can be hotter than the boiling point of water, and you won't notice it. When you add water to a container of wax that is being heated, the water can come to a boil underneath the wax. When the pressure builds up under the wax, the wax will blow out of the container, sending hot wax everywhere. We have done this, and it's really dangerous.

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Add some water to the melting pot that is the same temperature as—or hotter than—the melting beeswax. Use an electric teapot or heat the water on a stove. Stir the wax and water together as the wax begins to melt. Adding heated water will make it easier to melt the wax, will prevent the wax from getting hotter than 212 degrees F, and as the wax block hardens, much of the debris will settle in the water, helping the cleansing process.

Never never, never add water to a pot of already melted wax that is still being heated. Wax can be hotter than the boiling point of water, and you won't notice it. When you add water to a container of wax that is being heated, the water can come to a boil underneath the wax. When the pressure builds up under the wax, the wax will blow out of the container, sending hot wax everywhere. We have done this, and it's really dangerous.

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Stirring will keep the melting beeswax from sticking to the bottom of your old pot. You can allow this mixture to get up to a low boil, but be careful not to let it boil over, and do not leave it boiling for very long (or preferably, don’t boil it at all). Don’t burn your wax, and never leave your hot melting pot unattended. An infrared thermometer is really helpful at checking the temperature of the wax without touching it. 

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the wax is melted, you can scoop out larger pieces of unwanted debris (bee cocoons, dead bees, propolis, and other things) with a spider strainer/skimmer spoon. These pieces of debris can go into your compost, or you can just discard them. You might be able to add more wax to the pot when everything melts.

Stirring will keep the melting beeswax from sticking to the bottom of your old pot. You can allow this mixture to get up to a low boil, but be careful not to let it boil over, and do not leave it boiling for very long (or preferably, don’t boil it at all). Don’t burn your wax, and never leave your hot melting pot unattended. An infrared thermometer is really helpful at checking the temperature of the wax without touching it. 

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the wax is melted, you can scoop out larger pieces of unwanted debris (bee cocoons, dead bees, propolis, and other things) with a spider strainer/skimmer spoon. These pieces of debris can go into your compost, or you can just discard them. You might be able to add more wax to the pot when everything melts.

Filtering Beeswax

When you have a pot full of dirty hot melted wax mixed with water, prepare a bucket or another large pot with a honey strainer. BE VERY CAREFUL! Wear thick gloves or use potholders, because the pot (and the wax) will be HOT.

Wax splatters easily and will instantly harden and burn you if it gets on your skin! It is wise to have some cool running water nearby in case you get burned.

Slowly and carefully pour the mixture of hot wax and water into the large bucket through the strainer, and then let it cool slowly overnight. The dark sludge that is left in the strainer is called slumgum and can be used in swarm traps, as fertilizer, and as a firestarter.

Filtering Beeswax

When you have a pot full of dirty hot melted wax mixed with water, prepare a bucket or another large pot with a honey strainer. BE VERY CAREFUL! Wear thick gloves or use potholders, because the pot (and the wax) will be HOT.

Wax splatters easily and will instantly harden and burn you if it gets on your skin! It is wise to have some cool running water nearby in case you get burned.

Slowly and carefully pour the mixture of hot wax and water into the large bucket through the strainer, and then let it cool slowly overnight. The dark sludge that is left in the strainer is called slumgum and can be used in swarm traps, as fertilizer, and as a firestarter.

As the wax cools, the clean cooled wax will float above the water that you added, and the smaller pieces of debris, dirt, and remaining honey will be suspended in the cool water. When you remove the fully cool beeswax from the bucket, your wax disc will have a thin coat of dirty particles on the bottom, but you can scrape and rinse most of that off with a hive tool.

Remaining in the bucket will be some cooled dirty water that you can discard, but don’t pour it down your drain, as there could be wax particles that might clog your pipes. Pour it outside in the grass.

As the wax cools, the clean cooled wax will float above the water that you added, and the smaller pieces of debris, dirt, and remaining honey will be suspended in the cool water. When you remove the fully cool beeswax from the bucket, your wax disc will have a thin coat of dirty particles on the bottom, but you can scrape and rinse most of that off with a hive tool.

Remaining in the bucket will be some cooled dirty water that you can discard, but don’t pour it down your drain, as there could be wax particles that might clog your pipes. Pour it outside in the grass.

Filtering Beeswax Again

Use your cleaned double boiler, crockpot, or multi-cooker to re-melt your cleaned wax. One way to clean your wax-processing pot is to heat it so that the cooled dirty residue wax melts and then use a thick or folded paper towel to wipe it out. This is the paper filter we use to filter wax and we highly recommend it. They are cheap and work perfectly when used with a dedicated holder. It fits perfectly over a bucket. 

When your melting pot is clean again, add your filtered wax. Heat and melt the wax, and when it is ready, you can filter the remaining smaller pieces of debris from the wax once more (or as many times as you need to) with cheesecloth, paper towels, coffee filters, or whatever you have available, depending on the plans you have for the beeswax.

Cosmetic or artistic uses may require finer filtering than other uses. Remember to add boiling water from your teapot for cleaning purposes and to make it easier to remove the wax from the container when it cools. When filtering, you could place a smaller bucket inside a larger bucket to reduce splattering.

Filtering Beeswax Again

Use your cleaned double boiler, crockpot, or multi-cooker to re-melt your cleaned wax. One way to clean your wax-processing pot is to heat it so that the cooled dirty residue wax melts and then use a thick or folded paper towel to wipe it out. This is the paper filter we use to filter wax and we highly recommend it. They are cheap and work perfectly when used with a dedicated holder. It fits perfectly over a bucket. 

When your melting pot is clean again, add your filtered wax. Heat and melt the wax, and when it is ready, you can filter the remaining smaller pieces of debris from the wax once more (or as many times as you need to) with cheesecloth, paper towels, coffee filters, or whatever you have available, depending on the plans you have for the beeswax.

Cosmetic or artistic uses may require finer filtering than other uses. Remember to add boiling water from your teapot for cleaning purposes and to make it easier to remove the wax from the container when it cools. When filtering, you could place a smaller bucket inside a larger bucket to reduce splattering.

Pouring Wax Into Molds

When you have filtered the beeswax as much as you need it to be filtered, the final step is to slowly pour the cleaned wax into molds or a smaller pot and let it cool overnight into completely hardened forms to be stored or used.

Molds such as Silicone cake pansmuffin pans, or honey bee-shaped soap molds could be great receptacles. You could also pour the cleaned wax into a rinsed cardboard milk container. Choose a size based on how you plan to use the beeswax.

If you store your wax in filtered and rendered blocks like these, you won’t have to worry about wax moths, because they are really only interested in the cocoons that you’ve already filtered out.

Beeswax is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, so it will keep forever in rendered blocks. If you store beeswax in an unfiltered form, you will need to keep it frozen to keep out the pests. Over time, your filtered wax blocks may form a “bloom,” just a whitish film, but this can be buffed off with a rag or just a little heat if you want to do that.

Pouring Wax Into Molds

When you have filtered the beeswax as much as you need it to be filtered, the final step is to slowly pour the cleaned wax into molds or a smaller pot and let it cool overnight into completely hardened forms to be stored or used.

Molds such as Silicone cake pansmuffin pans, or honey bee-shaped soap molds could be great receptacles. You could also pour the cleaned wax into a rinsed cardboard milk container. Choose a size based on how you plan to use the beeswax.

If you store your wax in filtered and rendered blocks like these, you won’t have to worry about wax moths, because they are really only interested in the cocoons that you’ve already filtered out.

Beeswax is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, so it will keep forever in rendered blocks. If you store beeswax in an unfiltered form, you will need to keep it frozen to keep out the pests. Over time, your filtered wax blocks may form a “bloom,” just a whitish film, but this can be buffed off with a rag or just a little heat if you want to do that.

Other Ways To Filter And Clean Beeswax

Solar Wax Melter

A solar wax melter is very handy for melting beeswax as it creates a very clean wax without using any energy or heat source besides the sun. You can make these wax melters yourself, or you can buy a dedicated one.  They usually have the same elements, a container with a glass or plastic covering and a small container inside that where melted wax will collect. 

The heat from the sun will radiate through glass and into the container with the wax. The wax will melt and then drip into a pan with some water in it. The wax can pass through a filter of some type on it’s way, but usually if you are starting with wax cappings or something similar; simply allowing the liquid wax to drip into the pan of hot water is enough to clean it. 

We have found solar wax melter work very well when there is direct sunlight. Even on a cloudy, summer day, the solar wax melter doesn’t work well. It really does need that direct sunlight to help. You can make solar wax melters more effecient by painting them black, adding insulation and tilting them so they have maximum exposure to the sun. With the right setup, the interior temperatures of a solar wax melter can get into the 200°F+ range. 

Other Ways To Filter And Clean Beeswax

Solar Wax Melter

A solar wax melter is very handy for melting beeswax as it creates a very clean wax without using any energy or heat source besides the sun. You can make these wax melters yourself, or you can buy a dedicated one.  They usually have the same elements, a container with a glass or plastic covering and a small container inside that where melted wax will collect. 

The heat from the sun will radiate through glass and into the container with the wax. The wax will melt and then drip into a pan with some water in it. The wax can pass through a filter of some type on it’s way, but usually if you are starting with wax cappings or something similar; simply allowing the liquid wax to drip into the pan of hot water is enough to clean it. 

We have found solar wax melter work very well when there is direct sunlight. Even on a cloudy, summer day, the solar wax melter doesn’t work well. It really does need that direct sunlight to help. You can make solar wax melters more effecient by painting them black, adding insulation and tilting them so they have maximum exposure to the sun. With the right setup, the interior temperatures of a solar wax melter can get into the 200°F+ range. 

Melting Bees Wax In The Oven

Melting Bees Wax In The Oven

It’s possible to clean beeswax easily in an oven, but it takes time, and you can only do small amounts. This method works for filtering beeswax that is only about 5 pounds or less, but it does work well. 

To clean beeswax in an oven, you need a wide oven-safe dish at least 1 1/2 inches deep. Across the top, you have to suspend a t-shirt, paper towel, or something similar. This has to be stretched over the entire top of the dish using a rubber band, string, or something similar. In the dish, you’ll place a layer of water to fill the bottom, not so little that it will evaporate out but not so much that there won’t be room for wax. 

Then you can stretch your paper towel, shirt, or other material over the top. On top of the stretched material, you would pile your beeswax cappings or other pieces of wax. Heat your oven to its lowest temperature, which is usually around 180° F. Over the course of a couple hours, the wax will melt through the paper towel and drip down into the hot water in the pan. Eventually, all the wax will do this, and you can turn off the oven to let the wax solidify into a cake. Once it is completely cooled, you can remove the wax cake and admire your clean bees wax. 

It’s possible to clean beeswax easily in an oven, but it takes time, and you can only do small amounts. This method works for filtering beeswax that is only about 5 pounds or less, but it does work well. 

To clean beeswax in an oven, you need a wide oven-safe dish at least 1 1/2 inches deep. Across the top, you have to suspend a t-shirt, paper towel, or something similar. This has to be stretched over the entire top of the dish using a rubber band, string, or something similar. In the dish, you’ll place a layer of water to fill the bottom, not so little that it will evaporate out but not so much that there won’t be room for wax. 

Then you can stretch your paper towel, shirt, or other material over the top. On top of the stretched material, you would pile your beeswax cappings or other pieces of wax. Heat your oven to its lowest temperature, which is usually around 180° F. Over the course of a couple hours, the wax will melt through the paper towel and drip down into the hot water in the pan. Eventually, all the wax will do this, and you can turn off the oven to let the wax solidify into a cake. Once it is completely cooled, you can remove the wax cake and admire your clean bees wax. 

What You Can Do With Beeswax

What You Can Do With Beeswax

Once you’ve harvested your wax, you’ll be hankering to do something with it! There are entire books and websites you can search with ideas and recipes. People have used beeswax for thousands of years, and you’ll find there are many uses for your wax.

Once you’ve harvested your wax, you’ll be hankering to do something with it! There are entire books and websites you can search with ideas and recipes. People have used beeswax for thousands of years, and you’ll find there are many uses for your wax.

Pure Beeswax Candles

Beeswax candles were used in ancient Egypt (and other ancient civilizations), and have been used ever since. They burn longer than other candles, reportedly will clean the air by releasing negative ions, and are a beautiful warm golden color. 

They produce less smoke, smell excellent, burn longer than other types of candles, and are environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Pure Beeswax Candles

Beeswax candles were used in ancient Egypt (and other ancient civilizations), and have been used ever since. They burn longer than other candles, reportedly will clean the air by releasing negative ions, and are a beautiful warm golden color. 

They produce less smoke, smell excellent, burn longer than other types of candles, and are environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Cosmetics With Beeswax

Cosmetics With Beeswax

Beeswax is heavily used by the cosmetics industry and by people who like to create their own lotions, salves, lip balms, and other potions. (Ever heard of Burt’s Bees?) In fact, the US cosmetics industry uses so much beeswax that a portion of it has to be imported.

Beeswax has properties that make it anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and this makes it ideal to use for products that need to be clean. Wax that is from beeswax cappings after a honey extraction will most likely be safer for cosmetics, because it will not have been exposed to miticides. You can have your wax analyzed before use if you are worried about possible contamination.

Beeswax is heavily used by the cosmetics industry and by people who like to create their own lotions, salves, lip balms, and other potions. (Ever heard of Burt’s Bees?) In fact, the US cosmetics industry uses so much beeswax that a portion of it has to be imported.

Beeswax has properties that make it anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and this makes it ideal to use for products that need to be clean. Wax that is from beeswax cappings after a honey extraction will most likely be safer for cosmetics, because it will not have been exposed to miticides. You can have your wax analyzed before use if you are worried about possible contamination.

Beeswax Artwork

Beeswax Artwork

Artists use very clean beeswax to create encaustic art. The wax used is often “white beeswax,” which means it has been through extra filtering processes, and is often sold as small pellets. Artists melt the wax to create translucent, evocative layers and textures.

Pictured is a detail of artwork by artist Tracie Noles-Ross, who used beeswax and crayon over a monoprint to create this image of a Leopard Moth.

Artists also use wax for batik art; they mix wax with solvent, resin, and oil paint to create thicker, yet transparent paint; they use it as a glaze resist in ceramics; it can be used in jewelry making; and there are many other creative applications for beeswax.

Artists use very clean beeswax to create encaustic art. The wax used is often “white beeswax,” which means it has been through extra filtering processes, and is often sold as small pellets. Artists melt the wax to create translucent, evocative layers and textures.

Pictured is a detail of artwork by artist Tracie Noles-Ross, who used beeswax and crayon over a monoprint to create this image of a Leopard Moth.

Artists also use wax for batik art; they mix wax with solvent, resin, and oil paint to create thicker, yet transparent paint; they use it as a glaze resist in ceramics; it can be used in jewelry making; and there are many other creative applications for beeswax.

Beeswax Crafts

Books likeBeeswax AlchemyorBeehive Alchemylist many accessible crafts to create with your beeswax. These books will teach you how to make decorative items like dipped fall leaves, practical items likebeeswax pinecone firestarters, and little wax bowls made with balloons, as well as provide many recipes for salves, scrubs, and more. You can find out how to waterproof your sneakers or make waxed cotton sandwich wraps that will replace saran wrap or Ziploc bags.

Beeswax Crafts

Books likeBeeswax AlchemyorBeehive Alchemylist many accessible crafts to create with your beeswax. These books will teach you how to make decorative items like dipped fall leaves, practical items likebeeswax pinecone firestarters, and little wax bowls made with balloons, as well as provide many recipes for salves, scrubs, and more. You can find out how to waterproof your sneakers or make waxed cotton sandwich wraps that will replace saran wrap or Ziploc bags.

Add Wax Or Rewax Plastic Foundation

Occasionally you may need to rewax your plastic foundation. Wax moth or beetle damage or old comb that needs to be replaced may necessitate the removal of comb, and if you do that, you can re-wax that plastic foundation to use it again.

For this purpose, the wax does not need to be super clean. You can even use dirty wax, and it’s possible the bees will like that better.

Add Wax Or Rewax Plastic Foundation

Occasionally you may need to rewax your plastic foundation. Wax moth or beetle damage or old comb that needs to be replaced may necessitate the removal of comb, and if you do that, you can re-wax that plastic foundation to use it again.

For this purpose, the wax does not need to be super clean. You can even use dirty wax, and it’s possible the bees will like that better.

Using Beeswax As A Swarm Lure

Using Beeswax As A Swarm Lure

Slumgum, that dark sludge that you filtered out of your wax, is great to use in swarm boxes because it smells like an old beehive. You can scrape it out of the strainer while it is still hot into a swarm trap you’ve prepared, and the smell of wax, propolis, and cocoons will be very attractive to scout bees.

You can also use clean wax in your swarm trap. Anything that smells familiar will encourage honey bees to move in and start building comb. This is why bee swarms will sometimes move into abandoned beehives. The old comb, propolis, and debris smell like home.

Slumgum, that dark sludge that you filtered out of your wax, is great to use in swarm boxes because it smells like an old beehive. You can scrape it out of the strainer while it is still hot into a swarm trap you’ve prepared, and the smell of wax, propolis, and cocoons will be very attractive to scout bees.

You can also use clean wax in your swarm trap. Anything that smells familiar will encourage honey bees to move in and start building comb. This is why bee swarms will sometimes move into abandoned beehives. The old comb, propolis, and debris smell like home.

Sell Or Trade Your Wax

Sell Or Trade Your Wax

You may be able to sell or trade your beeswax. Reach out to your local beekeeping organizations, farmer’s markets, or stores for ideas and resources.

Much of the information above was derived from The Beekeeper’s Handbook, by Diana Sammataro and Alphobse Avitabile, and Beeswax Alchemy, by Petra Ahnert, which is also a great resource for recipes and how to do things with your beeswax.

You may be able to sell or trade your beeswax. Reach out to your local beekeeping organizations, farmer’s markets, or stores for ideas and resources.

Much of the information above was derived from The Beekeeper’s Handbook, by Diana Sammataro and Alphobse Avitabile, and Beeswax Alchemy, by Petra Ahnert, which is also a great resource for recipes and how to do things with your beeswax.

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