Monday, April 2, 2012

Beeswax - A Tale of Trial and Error

Candle making.

I've been figuring this one out a bit at a time.  I get a piece of advice here or there and then of course there's my tried and true:

Trial and Error

I had some nice and dry cappings from a few seasons ago.  That season I'd had the bees lick them dry.

When these were melted in the crock pot everything went great - the wax was clean with very little debris.

I scooped out the melted wax near the surface and then poured it through a piece of silk over my glass pitcher.  Fine particles were trapped.  From there I poured straight into my candle mold.  No problem.

I got a little over excited because I was ripping through some containers of wax that had been sitting around waiting for a long time to be processed.
 
With the change in our weather back to cold I decided to use my free time to paint some wooden ware and finally process all this wax.
 
I'd made a few candles and they'd cooled down so I was able to remove them and free up the molds.

Then I found another batch of combs.  These were heavier and clumpier.  It should have been a warning but I was too busy being productive and proud to pay attention.  Into the crock pot they went

I poured the molds.  Hours later I returned to empty them only to find the top 2" was wax and the bottom half was a thick cooked honey.
Then I remembered that the dross and honey go to the bottom of the pot and the wax floats to the top.  So I switched to a two stage process.

[Photo - glass pitcher with debris caught on silk.

The clean wax pours from the spout onto the second silk which is clamped on my mold container.]



Stage one to melt the wax.  Then I poured it through a piece of silk into a glass pitcher.  The crud was caught on the silk.


Next I poured the cleaner wax through another piece of silk camped over a plastic container.  This container will be my brick mold.

The bricks can be stored until needed and the size is just right to fit into the crock pot.
Another way to do this would be to heat the wax up, letting it separate and then just let it cool so the wax will harden on the top.

I was left with some dark sweet syrup - caramelized honey which could be used in cooking.  It was hot so I set it aside to cool.  A layer of wax cooled on the surface, reminding me of beef fat and gravy.

By the way remember to never feed caramelized honey to bees because it will kill them.





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