Beeswax is amazing stuff. From Wikipedia: “For thousands of years, it has had a wide variety of applications; it has been found in the tombs of Egypt, in wrecked Viking ships, and in Roman ruins. Beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reused.” It has been used by every civilization on every continent and is still used today! Read more about it here. The wax is secreted as tiny flakes on the bees’ abdomens and is the only wax on earth that is completely non-toxic. Cool, huh?
Did you know that honeybees will visit over 17 million flowers just to produce one pound of beeswax? Over seven pounds of honey are necessary for the bees to consume just to produce that one pound of wax. Incredible.
It is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal and extremely protective, too, and that’s why we use it to make our Beeswax Lip Balms and Lotion Bars. It’s takes some work to make it usable, though…here’s how we do it.
First, we gather the cappings from when we extract the honey from the hives. Cappings are the pieces of comb that we cut off so the honey will drip out. We leave some for the bees to refill so they won’t have to use as much energy rebuilding their comb and can expend their efforts on making more honey.
Next, we dump the cappings into a big pot full of water and bring it to a gentle simmer, just hot enough to melt the wax.
Looks horrible, doesn’t it? It actually smells really nice. 🙂
Without stirring, we allow the pot to cool. Heavy impurities sink to the bottom and honey dissolves in the water while the wax, pollen and other lighter-than-water things rise to the top. When it’s completely cool, we lift the hardened wax layer off the top, pour out the dirty water, wash out the pot and do it all over again.
We’ll do this four or five times, just to get as much crud out of it as we can.
Here’s what it looks like after several “washes”. We have to make sure that there is absolutely no honey left in it or it won’t harden.
Now for the final filtering. No water this time – we just break up the big disk and put the chunks into the trusty mini-crockpot.
Melting down slowly…still looks pretty nasty.
When it’s completely melted, we pour it through several layers of cheesecloth to filter out the pollen, propolis and whatever else has been hanging on.
And voila! Pour the hot wax out onto a silicone sheet and it cools into a beautiful mass of fragrant beeswax.
We harvested over 50 pounds of honey this summer and got just under 9 ounces of clean beeswax. That’s why I don’t make beeswax candles – that stuff is too precious! Thanks, bees. 🙂