Hello fellow makers!
I’m Stephanie the new production manager at Waxing Kara Honey House. This week we have tackled melting the first large batch of beeswax cappings that have been collecting for a while in our freezer. The first thing I learned is you can freeze wax cappings to process long after honey harvest. If you don’t freeze them soon after harvest, don’t delay processing them because the combination of air, humidity and moisture is a perfect storm for fermentation within a day or two.
I will be sharing what I’ve learned about filtering beeswax over a series of posts that will give you a behind the scenes look into our production lab as we tackle steps to processing beeswax.
We take great pride in knowing that this is solely our beeswax, and that it has been minimally processed yet fully purified. (Note- purification of the beeswax is mainly to ensure an even, clean burning experience with no foreign matter, and provide a beautiful pale yellow aesthetic). Getting to this stage has been effortful.
There are ways of processing beeswax that are acceptable and effective using at-home or DIY methods, but as the quantity of wax that we produce grows, so has our need to adopt more commercial standards. Today, we are using the Primo150 beeswax melter to process our beeswax. We’ve found adapting to this melter challenging– largely because this piece of equipment did not come with any instructional materials. We have had zero luck finding adequate video or printed tutorials via internet or through company correspondence. My guess is the company assumes that you know what you’re doing when you buy this commercial equipment from them. We did not, so we’re sharing our experiences to hopefully help others and maybe open up communication. Because we have not had experience with other wax melters it’s hard to determine if this unit is a dud or if we just need to more time experimenting to figure out how it is best used.
A couple things to note:
– With this tank, you must fill the entire unit in order to process beewax cappings. The result was a whole bunch of bee-parts and sludge or “slumgum”* higher than the machine was designed to expel. (If you are reading this and have any insights, please drop us a line!)
-It was our understanding from email conversations with the folks at waxmelters.com that you can put your caps in the Primo150 and like magic the wax would separate from the slumgum. The truth is- we should have washed our cappings with very cold water to the best of our ability after harvest and before freezing the caps. We highly recommend that you do this if you are processing beeswax at any scale.
-Washing the cappings would have significantly reduced the amount of slumgum that this process created.
-This process took several days of time to melt, filter, re-melt and re-filter the large quantity of beeswax cappings.
-It’s best to put a drop cloth down in the lab before processing beeswax. This made a real mess.
*Slumgum: n. 1. A term used in beekeeping, slumgum is the impure residue, consisting of cocoons, propolis, etc. remaining after the wax is extracted from honeycombs.
Here at the Honey House lab we have started to set in motion our newly-advanced, unique beeswax candles and beeswax blend candles derived right from our source, the hives at Chesterhaven Beach Farm. Working through the filtering process has helped me gain an appreciation to the work that we are doing here.