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August 5, 2013

Making beeswax or melting combs

I too have tried several methods over the years.  By far the best was a hot water bath.  It is in the method that makes the difference.

Here's a german video so you can get the basic idea.

You will need:
2 - 5 gallon plastic buckets, like the type paint comes in (one for "broth", one for the wax)
2- spaghetti cooking pot or other large pot, one for boiling extra water, one for melting the comb which must be a junker.
A "fire" source, I used an old Coleman 2 burner camp stove
Junk combs
An additional water source (bucket or hose)
course netting, I used a 5 gallon net paint strainer, buy at home Depot
A large ladle or something like it, I used a 3 cup ladle

Here is what to do:
  1. Take one bucket and on one side, drill about a 3/4" hole about 2 inches from the bottom.  This will be our "broth" bucket.Do nothing to the second bucket.
  2. Test fit that your pots will seat correctly and safely on the heat source. VERY IMPORTANT.

Here is what we are going to be doing:
After first adding water to both pots (1/2 full for our cooking/melting pot, you need room to add comb, you can add more water later), bring both to boiling.
Attach the netting to the broth bucket securely, very important. It should not touch the floor of the bucket, half way is good. Place the broth bucket on an elevated platform, so that liquids can drain out of the drilled hole into the "wax" bucket. The wax bucket must be slightly under the edge of the broth bucket. Test it.  Pour some cold water though the netting of the broth bucket, continue pouring water till it flows out the drilled hole into the wax bucket. Did it work? or do you have water on the floor? Move buckets as needed. drain the water from the broth bucket, leave the cold water in the wax bucket.
Get the idea of placement?? You are going low tech.

Add old combs to the melting pot. The water will turn blackish or brownish (see below), the wax will start to melt coming to the top, crap will go to the bottom. Stir some. When it "feels" all the wax has melted, use the ladle and transfer the "broth" to the broth bucket, let the strainer you installed do its job.  Do not worry about the trash in the strainer.  As you continue to transfer the broth, at some point the melted wax and water will come out of the drilled hole and drip into the wax bucket. Add water from your clean water pot to the broth pot to makeup what was ladeled out, add more comb and repeat. Remove debris from melting pot as you ladle the broth.

Look in the wax bucket. You will see that the wax is floating to the top, water is underneath. When you are finished melting, let the wax bucket set over night undisturbed. Next morning, dump the wax bucket and you will have a round block of wax. On the bottom, there will be a thin layer of debris, shave this off with a knife.

Failure to secure netting. The contents will be heavy, if you do not secure this well, the debris and broth will be forced into the bottom of the bucket and you will have a huge mess.
Failure to test the bucket drainage. You will have wax all over the place and a big mess. Use some newspapers as blotters.
Failure to do this outside. See above.
Failure to use two buckets for water. With no boiling water available it will take a lot longer.
Failure to be safe. This is boiling wax and water, if you are careless you could be severely burned. KEEP KIDS AWAY.

The photos are not mine, I included them to help make this process clearer for you.

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