It is hot, oppressively hot. At this time of year in Maryland, no one wants to work in the colonies and the bees don’t really want you in there either – they make that perfectly clear. Most beekeepers have extracted some honey by now and may have a stockpile of wax lying about. It is on these hot sunny days that solar wax melting season begins at our home. My background and training is in engineering so I’m not likely to go out and buy a solar wax melter – I’d rather reuse something I have and make it work with very little work from me.
Engineers learn from experience that the best design is often the simplest and the most elegant. Over the years, and after trying all kinds of melting and filtering methods, I think I’ve developed the easiest way to melt and clean wax. You only need 3 things to melt the wax and they are all something that you likely have around the house: an old cooler, a sheet of glass (or plexiglass) and an a stock pot.
I use an old soup pot that I bought for cheap at a thrift store. It wobbles but that doesn’t matter as long as it is dark and fits inside the cooler with the glass on top. I put my wax cappings in the pot, put the pot in the cooler and put the glass on top. In a matter of hours outside in direct sun on a hot, summer day, the wax is melted and ready for the next step.
I have tried several different containers to pour the hot mixture into, but large Styrofoam cups (we wash out the ones given to us after dining at carryout restaurants) are undoubtedly the best. It is also essential to have some oven pads on hand – the soup pot will be hot. I would finally recommend putting some newspaper down under the cups where you are pouring. Once your wax is melted, carefully remove the very hot pot, using those oven pads, and slowly pour the melted combination of wax, honey, propolis, bee parts, etc. into the Styrofoam cups.
Wait a few hours, and the wax will cool, shrink and rise above all the other remaining honey and slumgum.
Once completely cooled, everything will slide out of the cup and you can cut the slumgum part off and are then left with beautiful golden, clean wax – no messy filtering required!
I save these chunks of clean wax throughout the summer and fall and use them for candles, re-waxing some foundation and other great uses.