Monday, January 24, 2011

An Easy Way to Process Beeswax

Here is a neat trick I came up with today to purify your beeswax with very little waste.

I've been reading a lot about soap making lately and that is where I got the idea to use a Pringles can to pour the hot wax into as some people will use them as a soap mold.  The beauty of the Pringles can is that you can peel it off cleanly and throw it away when you are done.

The wax settles into a long slender column with a very little area of debris to scrape away.

This is what I did:

  1. Clean out a Pringles can (you can use a little water.)
  2. Fill a small glass sauce pan (or a glass bowl) with water and pour it into the Pringles can to be sure the volumes are similar (you don't want to exceed the volume of the Pringles can.)
  3. Place your wax into the sauce pan (or a glass bowl set within another pan of water like a double boiler.)
  4. Add some water to the wax.
  5. Gently heat to a simmer on your stove top, watching it closely and being careful not to spill.  Wax is flammable!
  6. Place a second pot of water on another burner and bring it to boiling.  You will need this to top off the can.
  7. Meanwhile, take a pair of pantyhose and cut off a large section of the foot.  This will be your sieve to pour the wax through.  Fit it over the Pringles can and push it down inside a little.  Secure it with a rubber band if needed.
  8. Place a paper towel beneath the Pringles can to catch any spills.
  9. Carefully pour the hot beeswax through the pantyhose into the can, water and all.
  10. Remove the pantyhose and discard.
  11. Pour in enough of the boiling water to bring the wax all the way to the top.  This will prevent wasting any wax may have stuck to the inside of the can as you poured it in.
  12. Set the can of wax aside to cool completely.  This will take several hours at least.
  13. Once the wax is solid, cut off the bottom of the can and drain away the water.
  14. Peel away the can.
And now you have a tall, slender column of clean and pure beeswax.  You can easily shave away the thin layer of debris from the bottom without wasting hardly any of your valuable beeswax.

The glass pan or bowl is most easily cleaned by placing it in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes to melt any residual wax.  Grasp it with a potholder and use a couple of paper towels to rub it clean.  Repeat if necessary until all the wax is gone.

I am going to use some of this wax to make hard lotion bars and some hot process soap.  I've got to order a few ingredients first.  I'm really looking forward to this as a fun winter project.  I've been feeling so cooped up lately!

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