Beeswax Melter Alternatives
A beeswax melter is one of the most important tools in the arsenal of any beekeeper. But, why do you need one in the first place?
Honey is probably the first if not the only thing that people think of if you tell them that you are a beekeeper. After that, they might ask you if you ever get stung and if this hurts or not.
Not a lot of non-beekeepers really bother to think about the rest of the products that a hive can give. While some of them might be familiar with propolis after seeing it as tincture on the local health food store’s shelves, only a few of them will ask you about the beeswax.
Beeswax is possibly the product that is most overlooked when in fact, this is among the most valuable materials produced by bees. The truth is that bees cannot live without beeswax that they use for constructing their nest. Without beeswax, the entire bee colony will never be able to function in the first place.
Beeswax and Where It Comes From
While all insects can produce wax that they use for preventing their bodies from drying out, beeswax can only be produced by the honeybees alone. This is produced in large quantities when it is needed to build their nest.
The four pairs of the specialized wax glands located under the worker bee’s abdominal plates are responsible for the production of beeswax. There are more than 300 components there and bees need to eat plenty of sugar, often in honey or nectar form. Sometimes, however, they feed on the syrup that the beekeeper gives them. The development of oenocytes that produce the wax will depend on the worker feeding on the pollen during its first few days of life.
Bees will only be able to produce wax when there is a constant supply of sugar or nectar with the colony’s temperature at around 95°F or 35°C. Small wax scales get extruded from wax glands. These will be picked up by the bee with pollen brushes located on the insides of the back legs before transferring them forward.
The saliva will then be added before kneading the flakes until they become pliable. Soft wax will be used for fashioning the comb’s hexagonal cells. What is truly amazing here is the cell shape’s accuracy as well as the cell walls’ consistent thickness and all of these are made in complete darkness.
Wax is primarily used by the bees for building their combs even though this is also used for capping over brood before pupation and honey fills the cells. The combs in a natural cavity hang from above and extend downwards as what the colony requires. When bees produce wax for building comb, you will sometimes notice them hanging in the space in chains.
Beeswax Melting Alternative Methods
Beeswax is a very popular product used in lotions, soaps, balms, and even candles. This is also easy to come by even for those who are not beekeepers. Most craft store chains offer these products throughout the year and they are also readily available from suppliers online.
But the main question now is, how do you safely melt a block of beeswax?
While beekeepers use a specialized beeswax melter for this procedure, there are still other popular methods used to melt this natural product and these include crock pot, double boiler, and solar energy.
It is possible to control the temperature with most of the crock pots you can find today. Wax is first placed in the container that will be put in the crock. Remember that this is an important step especially if you cook your food in the crock pot. Beeswax may be a bit difficult to get rid of completely. You need to turn on the unit at a low setting then allow the beeswax to melt slowly.
Partially fill the double boiler’s bottom pan then put the top pan above. Put the beeswax inside the pan on top. Turn the stove on to medium low heat then wait for the beeswax to melt. When the wax starts to melt, ensure that the bottom pan doesn’t burn dry. It will quickly increase the temperature of the wax to the extent that it will burn or reach the flash point.
When you speak of flash point, this is the point when the beeswax will start to flame and burn up. It is the main reason why the beeswax should never be left unattended during the process of melting.
The third method involves using a solar oven. You can build or buy one, whichever you prefer. You don’t need anything fancy as long as it is big enough to accommodate the container with the beeswax. Your chosen device must also be able to retain or hold heat without getting too hot to the extent that the wax will reach the flash point or scorch.
To stay on the safe side, you can check the temperature every now and then with a thermometer. You can lower the heat setting if you are using a double boiler or crock pot. But, when using solar energy, you should keep the top or lid slightly open to air in and reduce the heating chamber’s temperature.
Whatever method you choose to use, gentle heat is the key here. Beeswax will start to melt in the temperature range of 143F to 151F. Once the temperatures exceed 170F, the beeswax will lose its aroma and its color will also turn darker. The temperature range of 400F is the flash point for beeswax.
Once beeswax melts, its color will become clear no matter what the beeswax block’s original color might be. The color often ranges from deep amber to yellow to almost white. However, once the process of cooling starts, it will begin to go back to the original color.
After melting the beeswax, remove this from heat right away. This is now the time for you to mix it in with butters and oils to produce balms and lotions or pour it for candles. If the wax starts setting up, you can just place it back over the source of heat.
Make sure to use a high quality beeswax melter at honigschleudern.eu to get the best beeswax for your projects.