On Filtering Beeswax

Beeswax fresh from mold

Hello fellow makers!

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 freeze wax cappings to process long after honey harvest.

Do not delay rinsing and drying wax caps, then freezing to avoid fermentation.

If you don’t freeze wax caps soon after harvest, the combination of air, humidity and moisture is a perfect storm for fermentation within a day or two.

wax-caps-in-freezer

Here, we’re providing 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 also as purified as we can get it without using chemicals

Note- purification of the beeswax is mainly to ensure an even, clean burning experience with no foreign matter in our candles, while providing 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.

raw-beeswax

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 from the folks at waxmelters.com or via YouTube 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 commercial 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.

slumgum-image

A couple things to note about the Primo150 Beeswax Melter:

  • 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.
  • After a few more tries at this and basically a conversation where we were begging the folks at waxmelters.com for help they told us that we simply needed to add water to the tank to help to make the wax and slumgum more liquid.
  • 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 and that was only because the machine did not come with adequate instructions
  • 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.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram as we continue to share our journey on filtering beeswax.

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About the Author

kara

Kara waxes about the bees, creates and tests recipes with her friend Joyce, and does her best to share what she’s learned and continues to learn about the bees, honey, ingredients we use and more.

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