Saturday, July 22, 2017

How to Create a Home Made Solar Melter with Stuff You Already Have


If you are a beekeeper you are going to have a lot of wax as a byproduct of your honey production. Maybe you are even more excited about the wax than the honey. There are just so many fun and useful things to do with this amazing resource but first you have to get it into a usable form. That means we have to melt and purify it.


Here are the things you'll need to replicate my process.

Cooler. Any kind and you aren't changing it so it will still be usable after this.
Aluminum foil.
Brick or chunk of concrete.
Shingle. Not actually necessary but they get really hot and speed up the process.
Bowl or other container. Plan on designating one bowl for this as beeswax is almost permanent.
Water. 
Cheesecloth or fabric. (I'm showing you both in this post)
Old window or other large piece of glass. A storm window is ideal.
A hot sunny day. 


Line the cooler with aluminum foil. Place the brick in the bottom and arrange the shingle where you think it will absorb the most heat.


Put a little water in the bowl to allow the beeswax to be removed later in a single piece. Cover the bowl with cheesecloth or fabric and secure it around the edges. You can tie it, use a rubber band, but I have found these office clips to be the perfect thing for this. Pile your honeycomb on top. Lay the glass over the cooler and let the sun do its job.


It's very interesting to see what you come out with. Sometimes there are impurities and you need a second melting. I haven't had to do that though. The system is providing me with beautiful clean beeswax. There are some beautiful color variations. You can see how much melting has taken place after one hour.


This is a great thing to do with kids to teach a fun science lesson about solar power and heat.

Caution! Do not be fooled into thinking that this wax and water will not be hot. They will be HOT. You do not want to spill melted beeswax on your skin. The bowl has been so hot the last few times I did this that I had to use pot holders. BE CAREFUL.

When it cools, remove the fabric with all the old comb and impurities in it.



Check out your beautiful clean beeswax floating on top of the water.


Once you gather all your needed supplies you can set this up in like one minute. I literally am doing it every single day right now because I had so much beeswax stored in my fridge all spring and summer.

 

I needed to process it to make room and this does a pretty small batch at a time.


This is perfect if you have a backyard beehive or two. I have seven and this process can still handle all of it but it helps that I have a whole refrigerator that I can fill with all my frames and wax to protect it from wax moths while I'm waiting to do this.

What is your preferred way to process your beeswax?



Next time I'm going to share how to make the reusable food wraps that I made using this wax!



2 comments:

  1. I'm not sure I understand completely - what is a cooler in the US? Is it just an insulated box or bag that keeps food cool? Do you have soft water where you are or do you use rain water? I've heard hard water affects the look of the wax. I have used a Bain Marie to melt the wax before.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, a cooler is an insulated container (they vary in size) for keeping food cold for outdoor activities such as picnics or sporting events. They are usually insulated plastic or Styrofoam. We have fabulous water in my city. It doesn't seem like it would matter though since the wax expresses all of it and floats on top. Of course, you can always use any metal container or double boiler type set up, but this is a fun way to let the sun do the work. I get a variety of colors even though the water is all the same. I do think if it gets over heated it can be discolored though.

      Here's a link about our water in this area: http://www.waterworld.com/articles/print/volume-19/issue-11/washington-update/memphis-water-termed-sweetest-in-the-world.html

      Did you do large batches in your Bain Marie?

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