Rendering Wax

The first step in making products, which use wax, is rendering bees-wax. After honey harvest, you are left with the cappings of the honeycomb. This is the main source for producing beeswax. And of course, since life is not meant to be easy, the wax cappings are mixed with honey and debris from the extraction process.

In order to use the bees-wax, it has to be rendered. The goal is to get rid of as much of the impurities as possible. In particular for candle-making, it is important to get rid of the honey and it's sugar. The success of the rendering (cleaning) cannot be determined by just the colour of the wax. White bees-wax is the result of additional processing after rendering, and some of these processes use chemicals, e.g. bleach, to achieve the result. Typically, your wax should have a creamy golden colour, and your hand should not feel sticky, when handling. If you hands get sticky, when you work with the wax, it is a sign that there is still too much sugar (honey) left. Using such wax makes candles, which do not burn well.

As for wax rendering processes, there are probably as many as there are beekeepers. There are some, which have been tried more often than others. One method, which is beeing used by members of our Association is described at "The Bee-Buzz" together with tips for using bees-wax. A slight variation of this procedure is to put the cappings in a pantyhose for the first step. This gives you an initial filter step.

Another process is used by our member Stig:

  1. First wash your wax cappings in cold water. They can sit for 3-4 months in a bucket. This is to get all of the honey off of them. If any of the honey is left on the cappings the candle won`t burn properly.
  2. Next drain the cappings through a screen to get any honey water off.
  3. Then place the cappings in a stainless steel bucket with ½ - 1 litre of water. Place on the heat and melt the wax.
  4. Once the wax is melted, filter it all through a cloth into a clean cat litter box. The water goes in too. This is where it will cool and solidify. As it cools it will shrink and float in the water. 
  5. Scrape all the impurities off of the cloth and discard.
  6. Lift out the chunk of bees wax out of the water. Repeat the process again by melting the chunk of wax and filtering it if needed. Cappings wax may not need a 2nd repeat process.