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Author Topic: Melting wax in a solar wax melter  (Read 2746 times)
Johnny253
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« on: January 31, 2012, 05:56:51 AM »

I have been melting some wax in a solar wax melter over the last few days from bits of comb left over from some cut outs. This is the first time I have done this. The melter I am using is pretty typical. It has a glass top and the comb is placed on wire mesh which is on tin plate. As the wax melts, it runs down into a container.

I noticed that the darker comb stays on the wire mesh and although it gets soft, doesn't melt down. Is this normal? What causes this - is the wax encased in something the bees have deposited? I'm guessing the dark comb would discolour the final product anyway so perhaps this is a good thing.

The final product appears quite good to me. Should I have put a fine screen above the plastic container to remove any impurities or is it fine how it is?
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bernsad
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2012, 06:27:15 AM »

The dark material is called slum gum. Mostly it is the remains of the cocoons that the larvae pupate in, each time a cell is used for a new larvae it leaves the remains of the cocoon inside, hence the cell size gradually reduces over time and the resulting bees raised in there get smaller. The slum gum is notoriously hard to extract much wax from. Search slum gum on the forum or the net for more info.
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Lone
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2012, 07:26:58 AM »

True, I think it's pretty much a waste of time to use brood comb for getting wax.

Lone
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annette
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2012, 06:27:39 PM »

Believe me, I know it doesn't work. I tried and ended up with a big mess. Never doing that again.
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CapnChkn
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012, 03:39:14 AM »

To extract the beeswax from the brood comb, you could take cheesecloth and bury the old comb, pollen, dead bees, etc. in a pot large enough to hold it well underwater.  Weight it down and boil the whole mess for a long time.  The wax floats to the top and the sludge stays in the cloth.

After this process you can further process it by boiling it in clean water, letting it cool while floating on that, and scraping the detritus from the bottom, or melting it in the solar collector with a paper towel to filter the trash out.  Using a press, you can also extract some more of the wax.  I've seen pressing done once in videos.
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dING
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 10:37:21 PM »

Melt all my wax through a solar box thingy

Use a fine metal mesh box with a CHUX cloth as a added filter

The chux filter cleans out all the crap and gives me a nice product
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rawfind
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2012, 10:19:08 AM »

True, I think it's pretty much a waste of time to use brood comb for getting wax.

Lone
Disagree there Lone,
 I got a reasonable amount of wax from old brood comb this year, every little bit you get adds up
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Lone
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2012, 01:51:44 AM »

Righto, Neil, it also depends on how old the comb is and how many layers of brood skins are in the cells.  I came up with my conclusion when I tried melting black feral brood comb, but I also struggled a long time with the simple concept of melting wax.  After a few sessions of making a mess, I finally realised that all you have to do is warm it all up in a pot with some water, and the impurities go to the top and bottom of the wax.  I had thought about making a solar wax melter but couldn't find a window.  I was given a couple of windows the other day but now I think it is just simpler to melt it in a pot.

It all depends on what you need the wax for too.

Lone
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rawfind
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2012, 05:53:41 AM »

Righto, Neil, it also depends on how old the comb is and how many layers of brood skins are in the cells.  I came up with my conclusion when I tried melting black feral brood comb, but I also struggled a long time with the simple concept of melting wax.  After a few sessions of making a mess, I finally realised that all you have to do is warm it all up in a pot with some water, and the impurities go to the top and bottom of the wax.  I had thought about making a solar wax melter but couldn't find a window.  I was given a couple of windows the other day but now I think it is just simpler to melt it in a pot.

It all depends on what you need the wax for too.

Lone
hope my tone didnt come across as argumentative there Lone, not my intention, had some really good results with my solar wax melter, but i still throw it into boiling water just to purify it more, the scum stick to the bottom when it sets hard.
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2012, 11:55:48 AM »

I built a solar wax melter and I use those throw away tin cooking pans that you get in the grocery store. I put one in the lower section to catch the wax and I put one in the melt area. I cut a small hole in one end, 1/2" tall by 1 1/2 wide, i lay the cut flap of metal down to lead the wax into the bottom pan. I stuff a piece of filter cloth in the hole the fiber type you use for stuffing. It must be tight enough so that it doesn't fall out. Like Johnny said, all of the slum gum stays in the top and only the clean wax goes in the pan. I do have to wash out the honey that ends up under and inside of the wax. It is a much cleaner wax than when you try melting it in as pot. My buddy, Jim, and I just tried melting the wax in a pot this past week and it just isn't worth it. Let the sun do all of the work.
Jim
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rawfind
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2012, 01:07:10 PM »

I built a solar wax melter and I use those throw away tin cooking pans that you get in the grocery store. I put one in the lower section to catch the wax and I put one in the melt area. I cut a small hole in one end, 1/2" tall by 1 1/2 wide, i lay the cut flap of metal down to lead the wax into the bottom pan. I stuff a piece of filter cloth in the hole the fiber type you use for stuffing. It must be tight enough so that it doesn't fall out. Like Johnny said, all of the slum gum stays in the top and only the clean wax goes in the pan. I do have to wash out the honey that ends up under and inside of the wax. It is a much cleaner wax than when you try melting it in as pot. My buddy, Jim, and I just tried melting the wax in a pot this past week and it just isn't worth it. Let the sun do all of the work.
Jim

Good description, could visualize each step you made, i love my wax melter and the sun really does do the work, it even works on mild days,
one thing Ive found is its best to take the slum gum out while its still warm otherwise it goes stiff, i think there is always a little wax that just wont leave the slum.
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beyondthesidewalks
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« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2012, 07:12:59 PM »

I've thought about building a press to hold the dark comb leftovers and leave it in the solar wax melter.   Each day, tighten the press a little and let some more wax out until you have a block of black junk to throw away.  If the wax gets trash in it or is very dark, several runs in the solar wax melter will bleach it out.  I've seen a plan for a honey press in the google sketchup warehouse.  I was planning on starting there.  Anyone have any good ideas?  My wax melter sits empty most of the time so I wouldn't mind letting this sit in there for a week or maybe more.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2012, 09:51:01 PM »

A press is the most efficient, but the easiest to come up with is put the brood comb in a cloth sack, put that in a pot of water and put a brick on the sack.
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Michael Bush
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Lone
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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2012, 10:25:05 PM »

You folks certainly don't want to waste a molecule of wax!  Can I ask what you use it for?
I do admit I scrape an amount off with the slum.  But all I've used wax for is waxing the plastic foundation, filling up gaps in inlay work, and shoe polish.  But then, conditions are not usually good for bees here, and I never usually have wax to play with.
If I did use the window I was given to make a solar wax melter, it would be the prettiest one, as it's a stained glass window from an old queenslander verandah.  

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hope my tone didnt come across as argumentative there Lone, not my intention
That's OK, we are all here to learn from each other. 

Lone
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divemaster1963
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« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2012, 10:50:09 PM »

I use both processes. I got a old westinghouse pan roaster. It has a water bath unit that holds 21/2 gals. of water.I melt two five gal buckets of feral comb with it at one time. It has a thermostat that goes from 125 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. I heat it till the temp in 185-215 just before boiling to sterilize the wax but not temper it. I can get about 4 lbs of wax at once, then I use my solar melter with Mylar flap panels to refind and bleach the wax to golden color into five pound bricks. I use cheese cloth. but I like the idea of using batting as a filter for finer particulars. I am going to try that.

 
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beyondthesidewalks
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« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2012, 11:52:44 PM »

My wife has a few uses for wax but most often puts it in her soap that she makes.  I use a fair amount on my frames since I started the foundationless thing.  From time to time someone finds out I'm a beekeeper and asks if they can buy some.  I like to oblige them.
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rawfind
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« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2012, 01:06:14 PM »

My wife has a few uses for wax but most often puts it in her soap that she makes.  I use a fair amount on my frames since I started the foundationless thing.  From time to time someone finds out I'm a beekeeper and asks if they can buy some.  I like to oblige them.

Ive sold 2 kgs now, on ebay, one went for $20.50 a kilo the other about $12 a kilo, people buy it to make candles, one guy at work is buying half a kilo and rekons hes going to make some tinnia ointment out of it. Iwas thinking about turning the rest of it into furniture polish  and getting rid of it that way, but you can trade it for more wax foundation with a beesupply place too, down here in victoria i think redpaths allow that.
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Johnny253
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« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2012, 10:01:30 AM »

Thanks for all the comments. I found that by letting the brood comb sit in the solar melter for a week or more (as beyondthesidewalks suggested), quite a bit of wax slowly but surely comes out. I didn't bother pressing it or anything and may not have extracted all the wax but it's good enough. Ants like to get into my melter too and I suspect they help break the brood comb apart so the wax can get out.
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beyondthesidewalks
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« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2012, 10:31:49 AM »

Gravity and the sun are your friend. Smiley  Glad it worked for you.  applause
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