Beeswax processing

Beeswax is made from empty combs. 

This is process entails melting the combs, sieving and cooling the molten wax using suitable equipments.

There are four methods of wax preparation:

  • Squeezing method (Cotton bag press method)
  • Immersion method (Sisal sack press method)
  • Solar wax method
  • Steam extraction method

Squeezing method:

Requirements:

  • Empty combs
  • Cotton straining bag
  • 2 wooden rods or wax press
  • Soap
  • Water 
  • Source of heat
  • Wooden stirrer
  • Mould (any heat resistant containers to hold and  shape wax as one desires)

How to process

  • Rinse the combs in cool water to remove unwanted materials like grass, sand, pollen or dead bees.  
  • Put some water in a saucepan, add the combs and bring to boil while stirring.
  • Meanwhile smear the soap lather on the inside of the mould to allow easy removal of wax cake. 
  • The molten wax with water is poured into the cotton straining bag which is then wrung between two rods into the mould.  
  • Alternatively a wax press can be used to squeeze out the molten wax.
  • Cover the sieved mixture and allow it to cool and solidify undisturbed for 6-12 hours.  Remove the wax cake from the water and scrap off the impurities underneath. 
    Molten wax is being squeezed into a mould

Molten wax is being squeezed into a mould

 

Wax Press

Wax Press

Immersion method: 

 (For large amounts of comb) 

Requirements:

  • Empty combs
  • Sisal sack
  • Half cut open drum or large saucepan
  • Large basin or pan
  • Water
  • Piece of rope
  • Piece of timber
  • Source of heat
  • Heavy object e.g. stone or metal

Procedure

  • Clean the combs in the basin as in method 1 above.  Fill the bag with the clean combs and tightly tie it with the rope.
  • immersion-sisal-sack
  • Fill the half drum or pan with enough water to cover the bag full of combs.  
  • Position the timber in the drum to protect the bag from touching bottom.  Immerse the bag full of combs in the water so as to rest on the timber.  
  • Put some weight to keep the bag pressed to the timber.  Bring the water to boil to completely melt the combs.
  • Remove the heat source and cover the mixture to cool for 24-36 hours.  Gather the wax from the cool water and mould it using containers of your choice. Release the bag containing waste material from the drum.  

NB: For the methods described above, the beeswax cake can further be purified by re-melting the wax using double boiler then pour the molten wax through a clean and dry straining cloth to a mould of choice.

Solar Wax Melter Method:

Requirements:

  • Clean new empty combs
  • Solar heat
  • Bar soap

Procedure

  • Place the combs on the holding tray and close the double glass cover. 
  • Place the melter in an open space well exposed to the sun’s rays.  
  • The melted wax moves along the slanted tray through a screen into a container (which has been smeared with soap lather) placed inside the extractor.  
A solar wax melter with empty combs

A solar wax melter with empty combs

Steam wax extractor method: 

This method uses steam to melt combs. It is suitable for small-scale production of wax.

Requirements:

  • Empty combs
  • Water
  • Source of heat
  • Moulds
  • Bar soap

Procedure

Fill the extractor with the clean empty combs.  Spread soap on the inside of the moulds for ease of wax removal.

 

Steam Wax Extractor

Steam Wax Extractor

  • Boil the water to produce steam which melts the combs.  The molten wax flows into the moulds.  Allow it to cool for 6-12 hours.  Remove the wax cake from the moulds.

NB: New or unused combs result into more beeswax than old combs.