Sunday, February 27, 2011

Simple Solar Wax Melter

This is my version of a solar wax melter that I have seen on Linda's Bees and other sites.  It is the cheapest comb processor there is and it works. 
The first thing you need is a cheap styrofoam cooler
Paint the inside with dark paint, a flat black spray paint is best
Get a container that fits in the cooler box, add some water and then spread a paper towel across the top. Then secure it, a rubber band can work.   Put your wax on top of the towel..

Cover it with a pane of glass or plastic and set it in the sun.  The glass is to keep any nosy bees away and still let the sun heat things up.
The clean wax will flow through the towel and drop into the water.  What is left is the slumgum, all of that dark stuff left by the bees dirty feet.  This small bit of wax was in the sun for about two hours.  I left to to go do some other things so it might have been done much earlier.  Throw away the slum gum.

The wax will drop into the water so you can gather it without it sticking to the container.
This was not a lot of wax but it was from the partial frame of comb that had fallen out of the frame that I mentioned a couple posts back.  It is clean and I will save it for later use.
This is the wee pile of clean wax next to a tablespoon measure. Small but lovely and clean and nothing like the dark wad of wax I started with..
From Wikipedia: Slumgum is a term used in beekeeping. Slumgum is the residue of the beeswax rendering process. When the beeswax from brood comb is melted it contains not only wax but also the pupal lining, wax moth cocoons, excrements from larvae, and other residual debris. Less slumgum can be expected from rendering of cappings or honey comb. In the rendering process, the slumgum is separated from clean wax. Slumgum is slightly heavier than wax and sticks to the bottom of the wax cake. It is brown to black in color, and burns readily. Melted slumgum can be poured over pine cones to make fire starters

 There are bigger and better ways to deal with your wax but most of us Backwards Beekeepers are very small scale beeks collecting honey using crush and strain.  This method of rendering the wax  should work fine.   I do have an old solar oven that I will adapt to melt the wax but it is not high on my list atg the moment.   If you have a lot of wax you want to do at one time cheese cloth might work to replace the paper towel which cannot carry a big load of wax. .  I don't have enough wax to try that yet.  You need something that lets the liquid wax flow through and keep out the slumgum.

There are all sorts of things you can do with the wax other than making clean starter strips.  Check the main bee supply places like LA Honey,  Brushy Mountain and Mann Lake.   They have books and equipment to help you make candles, lip balm and all sorts of other useful things.

No comments: