On Tuesday, my lip-balm-making supplies arrived, so I was eager to dive in and make some lip balms with my own beeswax as an ingredient to sell at the Farmers Market. But first, I had to clean the beeswax- a process I had no idea would take so long.
I have two plastic tubs of crushed comb from extracting the Warre hives. In addition to wax, there are honey, pollen, propylis, and even a few dead bees in there that nobody wants in their lip balm. I have been storing the wax in the deep freeze so that if there were also any eggs of wax moths, they would be destroyed. It's not so pretty, but it sure does smell good.
First, I filled a crock pot halfway with water and put a bunch of wax in to melt. Wax floats on top of the water, and most of the contaminants sink. Then I let it cool and harden until I could remove the layer of significantly-cleaner wax.
Next, I tied up the chunks of semi-clean wax in a couple layers of cheesecloth.
Another crock pot session. I immersed the bag of wax and tried to keep it submerged below the hot water level. The wax melted, flowed through the cheesecloth and floated to the surface while most of the contaminants were trapped inside the bag.
(I found this old crockpot at a thrift store for a few dollars - it will become part of my beekeeping equipment and never be used for cooking; beeswax is almost impossible to totally remove.)
While still hot, I strained the liquid of the crock pot into a container. (I guess this sieve will also be bee gear now.)
The wax began to harden on the surface almost immediately. One thing I love about this time of year in Minnesota is that I just set the container out on the steps in the cold and it hardened very fast.
It took me all afternoon to get a small amount of purified beeswax, and I am repeating the process today. Needless to say I did not get to the lip-balm project yet. That will be a future post.