Waxing Lyrical

Our honey harvests this year have been absolutely amazing. We had an early harvest back in June and had another this weekend just past. Each year I aim to ‘do something’ with the wax and each year I fail miserably. It is sticky and grainy and in the end I just chuck it. I’ve tried separating the honey and wax with boiling it but that doesn’t work, sieving, straining…all with dismal results.

This year though, with two lots of wax to work with I felt I needed to get my act together. Coincidentally, Ginny Sheller, author of ‘Small Things’ blog had posted this about cleaning her beeswax. Of course! The bees! They can clean it. I laid it all out in our draining tray by the hives and left it out for them to clean off.

The wasps also got involved which was a bit more of a pain as it meant they were encouraged to come near the beehives and they also don’t go away at dusk in the same way so I had to fight them off to get the cleaned wax a couple of days later.

Anyway, long story short, the beeswax had all the honey removed by the bees (and wasps) and ended up in my bucket looking really papery – it was quite odd.

My next step was to clean out the grass and dead bits and melt it down. I bundled it up in cheesecloth and put it into a pan with hot water that I brought to the boil. Once this had melted, I left it to cool. This meant the wax hardened on top of the water and when it cooled I could just lift it off. Most the crap got caught in the cheesecloth, but some smaller grainy bits escaped and it still didn’t look as lovely as Ginny’s.

I needed to do another round of melting but with a much finer mesh, so I bought some mylk bags and this time melted it in a bain marie style set up so that the water stayed away from the wax. My main aim was to get a good, clean wax that I can make candles from, but at this point I haven’t got any moulds. I then remembered that I had some silicon ‘plant pots’ that I bought in a sale to make cup cakes with. I only needed something to store the wax in as I’ll melt it for a third time when I make the candles.

This was the end result. These are clean, solid blocks of gorgeous, honey-scented wax. I can’t wait to start making some little candles from these. Beeswax burns with so little residue, as clean as the wax itself. There is no longer an excuse for not cleaning and using my beeswax.

Probably enough here for 4 – 5 little candles or 10 or so tea lights.

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