My friends at Ecoburbia have hives and after they do a honey harvest they have bucket loads of honeycomb wax left over. Another friend learnt how to refine it and she had been giving me her wax to make lip balm and hand cream. You hardly need any bees wax for these recipes, but then I learned how to make sandwich wraps with bees wax (which will be the subject of my next post), for which you need a fair chunk of refined wax. So I decided I needed to learn how to refine it myself. And I'm so glad I did. Turning a sticky, dirty, mess (bees apparently do not wipe their feet when they go home to their hive) into something amazing and useful is such fun! So here's how to do it.
First you need some gear from the op-shop. You wont be able to use your wax refining pots for food again, it gets too messy. You need a big stock pot, a smaller pot and a bowl to fit in the small pot for double boiling, a sieve, some fabric and some silicone moulds (actually I use these for cooking too).
Take your bucket of sticky honeycomb, complete with dirt, honey, dead bees, sticks and whatever else you find and plonk it all in a big stock pot filled with water.
Stir it and bring it to a hard boil for about 10 minutes or so. This dissolves all the honey and loosens the other debris from the wax.
Let it cool in the pot. I usually leave it over night. The wax floats to the top and the honey and much of the dirt is left in the water. When the wax cools and sets you end up with a disk of wax with all the remaining grainy debris on one side of it, sadly this often includes the bees too. Take out the disk and just pour the water away.
Then you simply cut off the grainy edge with a sharp knife, break up the cleaner bits and then double boil it to melt it again.
Once its all nicely melted in the bowl, pour it into the silicone moulds through a sieve lined with muslin or cheesecloth to catch the very fine bits of debris in the wax. I haven't found a way to clean the cloth and use again but somehow we always seem to have some kind of fabric around the house to use.
Let it cool for a 10 minutes or so then pop them out of the mould. And that's it. Beautiful, clean refined bees wax ready for further uses. And yes, I'll be sharing some of those other uses soon.