All of those little bits of beeswax you collect as a beekeeper can be put to good use. Cleaning beeswax is a simple process and an important step to take before using it.
Keeping bees is an incredible experience and one that I would recommend to any family. Working together to care for these amazing creatures and observe them is something we look forward to each spring.
Beekeeping involves a lot of work but it’s not too difficult and the rewards are more than worth it. Of course, having fresh, raw honey is the main reason why most choose to keep bees. However, they provide more than just this tasty treat.
Beeswax is another prized product of honeybees and has so many uses. But before you start making homemade items from your beeswax, you’ll want to clean it first. This is simple to do right at home and then it will be ready for you to use it.
When keeping bees, hive checks are performed every 10-14 days, depending on the season. During these hive checks, it’s important to remove any extra honeycomb build-up. We use our hive tool to gently scrape off any excess honeycomb on top of the frames or under the lid.
I collect this honeycomb that we remove and keep it in a jar until I have enough for use. This takes a while, as I’m only scraping off small pieces of comb every so often. But over time, it adds up.
Another way to collect beeswax is after filtering honey during extraction. We run our honey through a strainer as it’s coming out of the extractor to filter out any dead bees or other large particles (leaves, twigs, etc). The wax that we melted during uncapping is filtered out as well.
We then set the strainer outside and allow the bees to clean it up and collect some extra honey to take back to the hive. What’s left is honeycomb! I pick through it to remove any dead bees or debris but then we’re left with lots of small bits of wax that still need a little cleaning.
We do not scrape honeycomb off of the hive frames. That’s left for the bees as they work very hard to build it. We only remove the excess honeycomb that is outside of the frames. However, after a few years, the comb on the frames can get pretty dirty from the bees using it, and then it can be time to scrape it off and let the bees build fresh comb.
Tools You Will Need for Cleaning Beeswax
- Two metal bowls-I bought two inexpensive metal mixing bowls just to use with wax. The wax isn’t harmful to regular bowls that you mix food in however, the residue can be difficult to clean off (you’ll need to reheat it and wipe it off a few times) so I just like having bowls specifically for wax usage.
- Fine mesh strainer-I pour my wax through two fine mesh strainers, inexpensive ones that I only use for straining wax. A paper towel or milk filter will work as well, just be sure to clip it to the sides of the bowl so that it stays in place while you’re pouring the wax.
Steps for Cleaning Beeswax
- Pour all of the collected beeswax and pieces of honeycomb into a metal bowl.
- Heat up the oven to the lowest temperature setting, usually around 160 degrees F.
- Place the bowl in the oven, close the door, and check it every once in a while. I like to do this on a day when I know I’ll be staying home and doing tasks around the house so I can keep an eye on the melting wax. Wax is very flammable so don’t leave it unattended! This process will take about three to four hours. Enjoy the amazing smell that will fill your home!
- You will be able to see the impurities separating from the melted wax. Our wax is full of birch tree seed hulls since we have them all over our property.
- Carefully remove the bowl from the oven.
- Set the strainer on top of the second bowl and slowly pour the wax into it.
- You will be left with beautiful and clean beeswax! However, if there are still any impurities that snuck by, you can repeat the process to clean it even more.
- Allow the bowl of wax to sit undisturbed on the counter for a while to allow the wax to harden. My batch still had a few impurities left in it but since I’m using this wax to make some tapered candles, I’m ok with that. If I were using it to make lip balm or lotion, I would clean it a second time.
- Once the wax has cooled completely and hardened, it can be popped out of the bowl and is ready to be used!
How to Store Beeswax
I keep my chunks of clean beeswax in a glass jar to save until I have enough for whatever project I have in mind. You can also keep it in a plastic bag or other storage container. This will keep it clean and dust-free. It also makes a beautiful decoration on a shelf!
Uses for Beeswax
- Candles-Fill any small container for a decorative candle or make traditional tapered candles.
- Homemade beauty products (lip balms, lotions, etc)-There are so many options for non-toxic self-care products.
- Waxing new foundation-If you did have to scrape honeycomb from the bee’s frames, you can use melted wax to paint on a new layer to help get them started with building fresh comb.
- Food wraps-Make your own beeswax food wrap by painting pieces of fabric with melted wax.
- Wood polish-You can polish your furniture naturally or make spoon butter for your wooden spoons.
And the list goes on. There are so many uses for beeswax around the home. Once you have your beeswax nice and clean, you can make whatever you’d like!
We are so thankful for the bounty that our honeybees provide for our family, not just the delicious honey but also the versatile beeswax. Because we don’t have a lot, it is very precious and used sparingly but lighting a candle handmade from the wax of our bees and having the sweet scent fill our home makes us truly grateful.