DIY Beeswax From Honeycomb

Blue glass roof.jpg

Rendering beeswax from honeycomb is not difficult, but it can be a sticky job and care must be taken in handling hot wax. The process of wax extraction from comb involves only a few simple procedures. Acquire comb from which the honey has already been harvested. Using heat, water and fabric bags for straining, melt and strain the wax, repeating the process until you have pure beeswax. The product that results will be the purest beeswax, ready to use for candle or soap making, polishing wood or leather, or a dozen other uses.

1 Getting the Comb

Honeycomb, unless found in the wild, comes from apiarists that use frame hives or movable comb (top bar) hives in their honey production. Frame hive apiarists re-use the frames many times, so those combs are available only when the frame is taken out of production. They yield the least amount of wax. Fixed hives--that is, natural hives--are hard to come by in areas that are not forested. The bee-keeping method called movable frame or top bar production results in combs that are suitable for honey and wax production. So when looking for comb to buy, look for a beekeeper who uses the top bar method and is willing to sell comb.

2 Rendering the Wax

The work area needed for wax extraction should hold a clean and solid table or counter top, a heating burner, cooking pot large enough to hold all the comb and water, another stainless steel pot to hold strained comb, two or three open weave bags made of various weight materials such as a burlap bag--one of coarse linen and one of fine nylon mesh. You may also want ceramic or glass vessels to use as wax molds.

Getting pure wax out of the comb starts with breaking the comb into small pieces and washing it with warm water to melt away any residue of honey or pollen. Repeat this process until the comb appears clean. Place the comb into the burlap bag, and the bag into the cooking pot. Heat until the comb melts and the wax escapes the bag and floats to the top of the water. Remove the bag and discard it and let the water cool. A lump of wax will stand atop the water. With clean water in the pan, repeat the process. Place the wax lump successively into each of the other bags, saving the finest mesh bag for the last straining. Cover with water and let the melted wax float to the top and cool. Continue to repeat this process, until you reach the level of purity you desire in your wax.

The final step is to coat porcelain or glass bowls with soap film, such as a drop of liquid soap, and pour the warm wax into the bowls. When they cool, they’ll come easily out of the molds and the extracted beeswax will be ready for use.

Roz Calvert was a contributing writer for the award-winning ezine Urban Desires where her travel writing and fiction appeared. Writing professionally since 1980, she has penned promotional collateral for Music Magnet Media and various musicians. The "Now Jazz Consortium" published her jazz educational fiction. She published a juvenile book about Zora Neale Hurston and attended West Virginia University and the New School.