A Buzzworthy Tutorial!

Courtney of Courtney Robyn’s Nest recently posted this tutorial on how to process beeswax from raw burr comb ends that she purchased from a local beekeeper. With just a bit of melting and straining, she came up with some beautiful beeswax for less than she would pay for the pre-processed stuff.

Living in Northeast Indiana I am in the heart of Amish country. It just so happens that my brother in law works with an Amish man that keeps bees. For $5.00 I was able to buy from him approximately 7 pounds of raw burr comb ends. Thus began my adventure in home rendering of beeswax. I had never done this before, had a vague idea of how it “should” go, and just dove in. Here I’ll show a few pictures of the process and what I learned (along with what I found would have been easier in hindsight.)

1. Take your raw burr comb and crumble it up – breaking up any big sticky chunks. This will still have some raw honey and organic matter in it. I used a double boiler on the stove. Have your bottom pot full of water and at a pretty decent medium-high to high heat. *Always take caution to not overheat beeswax especially by microwave as it is combustible. Add your burr comb to pot and begin melting down.

2. Continue stirring as it is melting down. I prefer using a glass stirring rod. I would not recommend using plastic or wooden utensils for rendering wax unless you intend to designate those items specifically to this project – it does not clean off easily.

3. Once it is fully melted down, there will be quite a bit of debris in the wax such as larvae, adult bees, pollen, and other matter.

4. You can filter the wax with knee highs stretched over a container and secured with rubber band. I had at one point tried cheesecloth as well, but it was not nearly as effective as pantyhose. The cheesecloth was so absorbent that it soaked up the wax rather than letting it pass through.

5. It may be necessary to run the wax through one or two additional times depending on how much organic matter was in the wax. I sent mine through twice and it was entirely free of all sediment. You can give the hose sack a gentle squeeze as you are finishing up but be cautious of the high heat – beeswax gets very hot and will harden rapidly on your skin. Also do not squeeze too much or you will squish out gunk and make your clean wax dirty again.

6. Once finished it smells so lovely and has a rich golden color indicative of high quality wax that has not been bleached out or over-refined. I ended up with approx. 5 lbs. of pure beeswax for a minimal amount of money and work. I highly recommend once your wax has “set” but is still warm you cut it up right then into more manageable 1-2 ounce pieces. It will save a lot of chipping away at a mammoth hunk of hard wax later. Unless you fancy that sort of thing.

Another handy tip is to take a paper towel and immediately! begin wiping out your double boiler while the wax residue is still warm. It is impervious to soap and water – I learned the hard way that it is difficult to clean off a pot’s surface.

6. You can use that yucky gunk that you get out of the wax when purifying for fire starters. Just put this “sludge gum” into egg carton compartments.

All in all, I really had fun doing this. It is a sustainable product and a natural additive that can enrich so many projects. I fully plan on doing this again to keep myself in wax supply. Since this batch I have been told by a beekeeper friend about another (and supposedly easier) method. So, I’ll post again once I have tried it. Which will be soon, very soon, because I have 20#’s waiting for me in my garage!!

Reprinted from Courtney Robyn’s Nest, which is no longer in print!

I asked Courtney if she would share with Great Cakes Soapworks readers about how to make tooth soap, and she graciously agreed! Watch for that tutorial next week! In the meantime, I have a double batch of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap to rebatch – since I forgot to add the rice bran oil. All. 27. ounces. of. it. Ugh.

Page with Comments

  1. I’m blushing. I feel famous. I shan’t forget to write you all when I have bought my first deserted island in the sea and sip on umbrella drinks all day . . . Ta ta dahhlings!

    🙂 Okay, that’s pushing it – but thanks for the feature and I look forward to the tooth soap one next week!
    .-= Courtney Beard´s last blog post ..Whoah Buddy- =-.

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