When people find out that we are honey bee farming, they always ask about the honey. But bees also produce beeswax and something will need to be done with the beeswax when you harvest honey. We have tried several ways of filtering beeswax and our favorite way is to filter the wax on the stove top.
Having beeswax available is so fun. A few years ago at our homeschool co-op, I taught a group of middle school children how to make beeswax candles. Most of them didn’t realize that bees made a wax that could be used and made into useful items.
After that, we brainstormed other beeswax uses and several of the students learned how to make lip balm at home. It was great to hear their excitement over something so simple and yet so exciting to them.
Filtering beeswax at home is pretty simple and there are several ways to do it. I’m going to show you how we filter beeswax but first, let me give you a few tips we’ve learned along the way.
First, don’t ever melt beeswax directly on an open flame. The wax can catch on fire just like grease can. A water bath is great for filtering beeswax.
Secondly, if you want to retain the natural anti-microbial properties in beeswax, do not heat it higher than about 175°F. Beeswax has a melting point of 140°F to 145°F, so 170°F is more than adequate for melting it. Water boils at 200°F so don’t let the water boil.
It’s best to use pots and utensils that are dedicated for beeswax uses. Cooled beeswax is hard to remove so I suggest you pick up some used pots at the thrift store and use those. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
Lastly, if you happen to be filtering quite a bit of wax or already know you’re a messy cook like I am, you might want to put a drop cloth down on the floor in front of the stove and on any counter where you might be working. I always think I’m not going to drop any pieces of wax but a few days after filtering or making something with the wax, I always find spots of wax on my floor and have to scrape them up. It’s just easier to put something down on the floor to catch the drops.
Depending on how old the wax is and where it came from will determine what method you use for filtering beeswax. If you have capping wax with some honey on it, you can put the wax in a pot of water and gently melt it. When it’s all melted, the wax will float on top and harden as it cools and the honey will separate out into the water. Once the wax is completely hardened, run a butter knife around the perimeter of the wax and then lift the wax out.
The process for filtering beeswax with a lot of debris is similar to the process for filtering capping wax. Since most of our wax comes from bee removals, we have a lot of debris in our wax and use the method shown in this post.
Supplies for Filtering Beeswax
Fine cheesecloth or other loosely woven fabric
Large pot (It’s helpful to have one that is reserved for beeswax.)
How to Filter Beeswax
Wrap the wax in cheesecloth and tie with a string. We use several layers of cheesecloth when there is a lot of debris.
Put the cheesecloth in a large pot of water and gently heat.
As the wax melts it will leech out of the cheesecloth but the debris will be contained.
When the wax is melted, remove the cheesecloth with the debris and let the pot cool.
Once the wax is hard, run a butter knife around the perimeter of the wax and lift the wax out of the water.
Now you can remelt the clean wax and make smaller pieces of it or use it in projects. To remelt the wax, put it in a clean heat safe jar or pitcher and put it in a pot of water. Boil the water to melt the wax, kind of like a double boiler. You can also use a traditional double boiler.
I like to pour the clean wax into a silicone muffin tin and then let it harden. Each puck is about 2.5 ounces and is a good size to work with and it’s very easy to get the beeswax pucks out of the mold once they’ve cooled. You can also use other things like small milk or cream cartons. We’ve tried several different things but have found that using a silicone muffin tin to use as a mold works best for us.
Have you ever filtered beeswax? What do you do with it?