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How to Clean Beeswax

April 30, 2011

Bubba’s Beez (my son James aka Bubba) is supplying me (his good ol’ mom) with raw beeswax for making lip balm, hand salves, etc.  The problem is, no one wants to buy lip balm with a bee leg in it (or any of the other various bee parts I’ve found over the past week).  At least I wouldn’t want to so that makes me assume that others wouldn’t want to either.

So, how do you go from this:

Beeswax Straight from the Hive

to this:

Clean Beeswax

Before I explain the steps involved, here are a few key tips to remember:

  1. Use a pot or utensils that you don’t need any longer.  Beeswax is very difficult to remove and it’s just easier to part with a pot you no longer want or need than to use one of your good ones.
  2. Do not leave the beeswax unattended.  It can easily catch on fire (as any wax can).
  3. Melt the wax on a lower setting, not high.
  4. Be patient with this process, it takes awhile.

Okay, now that I’ve said those things, let’s move on to cleaning the wax.

  1. Fill your pot with water to about halfway and add the unclean comb.  Don’t stuff the pot though.

  •  Turn the heat to medium or medium-low and let it melt.  When the beeswax has melted and is boiling with the water, then turn off the heat.   Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down completely.  This takes some time, so don’t hover over it.  I’ll even allow mine to cool overnight.  As the beeswax cools, it’ll separate from the water and the dirty particles that were in the comb.  The beeswax floats on the top and the other particles and water settle underneath it.
  • After it’s completely cool, the beeswax will have pulled away from the sides of the pot, making it easy to remove.
  • Once you’ve removed the melted wax, set it on paper towels to drain. On the bottom of the wax there will still be lots of particles, etc.  Cut these away with a sharp knife so that all you’re left with is a slab of wax.  It’ll still be somewhat dirty, but that’s okay for now.
  • Throw out the dirty water (but not down the sink as any particles and beeswax will clog your drain).
  • Repeat these steps a couple of times.
  • When you’ve removed all the major particles you can, the final step involves melting the wax without the water.  Clean the pot as best you can to remove any of the dirty particles and wax.  To be safe, you’ll want to do this in a double-broiler or at least put your smaller pot in a larger pot of water so that your pot with the wax does not sit directly on the burner.  If the wax gets too hot it can ignite.  Add your clean wax to the pot, turn the burner on low.
  • While the wax is melting, cut up an old, but clean, pair of stockings.  I simply cut the feet off of them and stretch them over the openings of clean, plastic containers (i.e. smaller margarine tubs, yogurt cups, or even milk containers – not the plastic kind).
  • Once the wax is completely melted, pour the wax over the stockings which filter out the final bee particles and dirt so that you end up with clean wax.
  • Allow the wax to cool completely (depending on the size of the container and how deep the wax is, this could take overnight).
  • Once it’s completely cool, you can cut away the container and store your beeswax until you’re ready to use it!
  •  UPDATE 3/1/2013: If the beeswax you have is black, do not use this wax. It is really old wax and will not render anything useful. I tried and it does not work. Try to use wax that is very pale yellow to a medium brown. This gives really beautiful clean wax when finished properly. Trust me. Do not use the old black wax. It will crumble and disintegrate into complete nastiness. Just thought I’d give you a heads up! Happy beeswax cleaning! One further update – we are now selling Bubba’s Beez non-petroleum jelly and lip balm in various flavors – all completely natural. Email me if you’re interested in purchasing any. You can find us on etsy under Bubba’s Beez. Thanks!

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    19 Comments leave one →
    1. lisa permalink
      May 1, 2011 8:43 pm

      that’s pretty cool! Will this be aiding to your son’s business? You should totally sell this! I love bee’s wax candles myself.

    2. March 1, 2012 7:55 pm

      Thank you so much. I’m an urban beek in LA and I do crush-n-strain to get my honey – and I had some NASTY wax. I wanted to use it to coat some new frames, but -eeeewww. I tried melting some without the water and just got cooked bug parts with a wax glaze. So gross. Using the water, the wax came right to the top!

      P.S. I used a mason jar in the microwave. Worked like a charm!

      • March 2, 2012 12:02 am

        That would truly be horrendous – waxy bugs…nasty! Thanks for the comment. How has your honey season been? We were in a severe drought last year and have had more rain in 2012 than we did most of last year. I’m really hoping that we’ll have a better honey flow. Take care and keep up the good work with the wax!

    3. August 24, 2012 12:48 pm

      Love your post! I cleaned wax for the first time yesterday after reading this, thank you for the tips and advice!!!!

    4. Bradford permalink
      September 6, 2012 11:51 pm

      The stockings you are referring to – are they ladies hose, or a cotton sock?

      • September 7, 2012 7:59 pm

        These are ladies’ hose. You could even use cheesecloth if you have it. You just need something with a tight weave that will keep the bee particles and gunk from straining through to the clean wax.

        Thanks for the comment! Let me know how it goes!

    5. November 16, 2012 5:54 pm

      Here in Florida, for some reason beeswax is ridiculously expensive to buy locally. One beekeeper told me he can’t keep it in stock! I already bought a huge slab from him and I’m wondering if I should lean it, then sell it. Have you ever tried selling it for extra money?

      I love your post, best of luck!

      • January 1, 2013 9:27 pm

        Thanks for the comment! I do sell it. We sell my son’s honey at local market days and we’ve just added 1 oz. beeswax hearts. They don’t really sell at the market days, but they are available. We’re working with a few local soap/lip balm makers to cross market and sell to them, but that’s all in the works right now. You can find our hearts and lip balms, etc. for sale at our etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/BubbasBeez?ref=search_shop_redirect

    6. Lorraine Emerson permalink
      November 30, 2012 11:10 pm

      Hi there, thank you for the information, I am about to try this for the first time. I will let you know how it all turns out. from Australia.

    7. Kelly permalink
      January 17, 2013 4:37 pm

      We just started beekeeping last summer, and use the crush and strain method. Glad I saved all that nasty looking wax, and have finally found a simple, effective way to make it useful!! Thanks so much for your information!!

    8. Jillster permalink
      February 20, 2013 3:37 am

      Trying this today for the first time…so far, so good! The pot is cooling on the stove even as I type.

    9. Jennie-VA permalink
      May 29, 2013 8:58 pm

      Hi! Old dark comb still has lovely useable wax in it. I use a homemade solar melter (glass window covering a styrofoam cooler) and process lots of old, yucky comb into beautiful wax. Four thicknesses of cheesecloth over a plastic storage container half filled with water. (I tie the cheesecloth to the container with string – rubberbands deteriorate quickly in heat!) The junk that’s left in the cheescloth goes in the compost.

      • September 21, 2013 11:23 pm

        Thank you for sharing this. One of these days I’m going to make a solar melter. Care to share how you made yours?

    10. Paul permalink
      June 25, 2013 8:47 am

      Hey,
      I just melted beeswax for the first time and what I did was I used glassware, which is much easier to clean than stainless steel. Also because the comb I used still had some honey in it, I just put the whole thing into the microwave (50s under 800W). Honey heats up very quickly and starts melting the wax while also separating the dirt (note – wax by itself will not melt in the microwave). I removed the dirt with the spoon and poured wax into little yellow plastic containers from Kinder Surprise eggs. Then I put them all into the freezer for 10 minutes and voila! Got my wife nicely packed and “measured” cans of beeswax which is also easy to remove from containers.
      The only thing I was not sure about was the effect of microwaves on the beeswax – I hope it did not spoil because of that.

    11. September 19, 2013 5:23 am

      I bought 8 lbs of beeswax from the himalayan hills… and it is almost black-ish, if not very dark brown… I’m still trying to clean it because that is all I have. I live in India and do not know good sources. Your post has been a great help! Many thanks!!

    12. September 7, 2012 7:57 pm

      I’ve never had a problem with cleaning beeswax. I don’t think it needs to be anymore complicated than melting and straining it. Of course, buying beeswax is a lot simpler than cleaning it! Wishing you all the best in your beeswax endeavors!

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