Thursday, December 8, 2016

How to process and filter beeswax

As mentioned in the last post, when I used a simple oven method to melt beeswax cappings I discovered the wax was a lovely yellow colour and that lead to the question - why is it yellow and not brown?

In the last post I mentioned my wake up moment on how I dicovered I was mistreating my beeswax cappings by overheating the wax.

That's what caused it to look brown.

As per the oven technique in the last post, pictured is the frame I use with window screening stapled to it.  I lay paper towels on top of the screen and then pile on the cappings.

I then set the frame over a foil lasagna tray from the grocery store with a bit of water in it.

Over hours at the lowest oven setting, the cappings melt and the wax drips through the paper towel into the tray below.

The "slum gum" stays on top and can be discarded.

This yellow wax on top can look very clean but it will still have some fine debris in it.

If making candles, any debris like propolis, etc., that's still in the wax will act like creosote in the wick and prevent the candle from burning properly.

The next most important part of wax processing is to filter it really well to remove the fine debris.

There are a few methods for fine filtering and you might want to experiment with some or all of them.

The ultimate is to let the wax warm settle over a few days.  This allows time for the particles to sink to the bottom, naturally purifying the wax.

(I agree with this method but don't yet have a system that I feel I can safely leave on for days, especially if I leave the house.  Wax melters run about $1500.00 to import to Canada/customs/duty/exchange which is beyond my pocket book at this time.

Because I don't do a longer settling time, I do more fine filtering.

I use silk as the top layer that sifts and catches most of the debris.  Cheesecloth isn't fine enough.  In
reading some mentioned using J-Cloths.

Under the silk goes a piece of fabric (red in the photo).

What's important to help with filtering is to have a polyester/cotton blend where the polyester content is at least 40%.

That makes it fine enough to catch tiny debris but not such a tight weave that the wax won't go through it.

I then do a final filter through a paper cow's milk filter which I believe is the only filter used by those that do the multi day settling period.

The polyester can be purchased in a fabric store or at a second hand clothing store.

Photo - a 6" unused milk filter.

Below a used filter - note the slight brown debris that it collected.

I hope you find this information useful for when you venture into candlemaking or to help improve your current techniques.

No comments: