Last year I tried to render wax in my kitchen in a large stock pot. That was such a mess! For a long time I was finding bits of wax here and there. I needed to find another way to deal with the wax that I am collecting from the hives. After doing a little searching, I decided that a solar wax melter would be the best way for me to go.
I spent some time on the internet looking for ideas. Many people seem to use stock pots and crock pots and I don’t want to deal with the mess that comes with those. When I tried using the stock pot before, I didn’t get much clean wax. There was a lot of crud though. When I came across the solar wax melter, I really liked the idea of it.
There are so many different ideas for how to make one, several were set up specifically for frames from a Langstroth. I found this one at blog.corujas.net/building-a-solar-wax-melter. The design is simple and it is easy to get the parts needed to build it. We have plenty of wood laying around here from the many different outdoor projects that we have done over the year. I purchased the metal sheet at the hardware store and I ordered a piece of glass from the framing shop. The total cost was probably between twenty and twenty five dollars.
My husband is very handy and was able to build the solar wax melter quickly. At the bottom to catch the clean, melted wax I put a food grade silicone bread pan. The thought behind the silicone was that it would be easy to remove the wax from it once it had hardened. The wax melter from the blog has legs attached to it in order to have it sit up at an angle, but we did not put legs on ours. When it was ready to be used, I just propped it up on the raised garden bed to create the angle that it needed.
This solar wax melter worked beautifully! As the wax melted it drained down into the silicone pan, but all the other crud stayed in the upper area of the box. This meant that the wax that I was able to get from it was really clean. There is no filter at the end of the metal, it comes to a small point and that helps to keep any of the other stuff from falling into the pan. It was really surprising to me how well this worked. Such a relief to not have to think about rendering wax in the kitchen again!
Inside the metal tray, I was able to fit between three and four bars worth of comb. Overfilling the tray seemed like it might not be a good idea. Testing with a reasonable amount of comb was the way to go. The first day it didn’t get enough sun to warm up and melt much of the wax, but the second day was much better. The wax melter sat in the sun most of the day. When I opened it to look at the remaining stuff in the tray, it was mostly just the leftover gunk. Most of the wax had melted and drained into the pan.
It is so exciting to think about all of the things that I can make with the wax now that I have an easy way to render it. Last year I made lip balm, lotion, and healing salve using the beeswax from my hives. Maybe I can get into making candles too. Of course, it will depend on how much wax I can get from the hives. Making items out of the wax will have to be a winter time activity. I will be able to enjoy the delightful products and scents from the hives even when I can’t go visit the bees.