How to Clean and Render Beeswax

Every beekeeper seems to have a different method for rendering wax. For cleaning the wax from only one or two hives, I use a very simplified process that can be completed in about an hour.

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A word about beeswax... Anything the wax touches directly will be unusable for other purposes. Use something disposable, like a metal coffee can, or a bowl that will forever be dedicated to rendering.

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Place a drop cloth on the floor and some butcher paper on the counter. If you drop any wax, this will make cleaning up infinitely easier. Then, clean and cut off the top of an empty milk carton.

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Take the cheesecloth and put it on top of the milk carton. You will want to fold it over a couple times so that there are multiple layers. Use a rubber band to keep it in place.

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Gather all of your dirty wax. Here I have a mixture of cappings and chunks of broken comb. There is also a good amount of honey still in there, which will get separated out.

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Scoop the wax into a metal bowl or coffee can.

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Fill a pot with water, and turn on the flame.

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A word about safety... Beeswax is highly flammable. Never heat it directly on an open flame (hence the double boiler), never leave it unattended, and always have a fire extinguisher handy!

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Place the bowl of dirty wax on the pot, creating a double boiler. Increase the heat, until the water in the pot comes to a boil. The bowl will get very hot, so wear pot holders when handling it.

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The wax will start to melt from the perimeter.

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Soon, it will be mostly liquid, except for some big chunks. Remember to check the pot periodically to see if you need to add water.

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Continue melting it. The chunks will get smaller and smaller. You can turn up the burner, as long as the actual wax does not begin to boil.

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While the wax is melting, I stick the entire milk carton in a plastic bucket. We'll be pouring hot wax into the milk carton and this bucket will catch the leaks and spills.

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Make sure there is enough give in the cheesecloth to hold all of the debris. There is probably more debris then you think there will be!

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When the wax has completely melted, you will notice that the debris will be on the bottom, and the clear wax will have floated to the top.

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Carefully pour the melted wax through the cheesecloth, into the milk carton.

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The debris will gather in the cheesecloth, and the melted wax will drop below. Don't worry about any honey that is in the liquid dropping below.

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Let the beeswax cool and harden overnight. The pure wax will have floated to the top and hardened. Any honey that was mixed in will be sitting at the bottom.

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After waiting patiently for it to harden, rip the milk carton away from the wax.

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The block of wax will be sticky with honey on the bottom side.

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Gently run the block of wax under warm water to remove the honey.

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Place your wax on a scale to see how much you ended up with!

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Look at the beautiful golden color! Now it's time to think about what you are going to do with your wax. I think I will make lip balm with it! Stay tuned...

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