Melting beeswax with a solar wax melter is one safe way to get it ready for crafting and other projects. Raw beeswax is a wonderful by product of honey harvesting and you can use it for so many things. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some raw wax, build this inexpensive DIY solar beeswax melter to clean your wax.
Solar Wax Melter Plans
Beekeepers understand how hard honey bees work to make wax. In normal honey harvesting wax cappings are left over.
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In their raw state, left over wax is still sticky and contains a lot of honey residue. But cleaned beeswax cappings hold many possibilities for producing other products and crafts.
Of course, you can melt beeswax in several different ways. But, if you have a small amount of wax to render, making your own solar beeswax melter is a great option.
Melting Beeswax with the Sun
For hundreds of years beekeepers have been harnessing the power of the sun to melt wax.
Once beeswax is melted and then cooled – it takes the form of the bucket or tub used to hold it. Now the raw wax is in a usable form for projects or for the beekeeper to sell to others.
For larger amounts of wax, a solar wax melter is often made using an insulated wooden box (or metal) and a sheet of thick glass for the top.
Inside a tub or pail holds the wax as it melts, this allows some of the debris in the wax to settle to the bottom. This is especially helpful if you put a bit of water in the bottom of the pail.
After the wax cools, the dirty water will be on the bottom – making it easier to remove the block of beeswax from the container.
You don’t need fancy plans to make a solar wax melter – but its okay if you want to get fancy.
What Does it Cost to Make A Solar Wax Melter?
If you only process a small amount of beeswax each season, you do not want to invest a lot of money in a melter.
A small scale beekeeper can make a wax melter for a little over $10. All you need are a few materials and a little patience.
A regular Styrofoam cooler is perfect for this project. However, you can use any type of box that will hold in heat. Even a wooden box will work – it will work even better if you wrap it with some insulation.
Be very careful with your glass or you will get cut. Keep children and pets away. I always tape the edges of glass for a bit of extra protection.
How to Make a Solar Wax Melter
- 1 piece Styrofoam cooler (or other insulted box)
- 1 piece cheese cloth (or nylon, t-shirt material) sized greater than top of box
- 1 piece small sheet of glass with taped edges to fit top of box
- 1 piece aluminum foil or smal pan
- 1 cup water
- Purchase a small Styrofoam cooler. You can use an old plastic cooler as well or an insulated wooden box. The point is that we want something that will hold in the heat.A little white disposable cooler is about $9 at the grocery store. It will last several years, if you don’t break it!Place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of the cooler. The sheet should be big enough to cover the bottom and extend up the sides just a bit.You may choose to use a small pan instead. That’s fine as long as it fits well into the bottom of the cooler.
- Pour a cup of water (or 2) into the bottom of the cooler. (on top of the foil or inside your pan). We want a thin layer of water to cover the bottom.This water will catch the melting beeswax! It helps separate even more honey residue from the wax and makes it easier to remove from the box when cooled. Removing impurities from your beeswax is important, if you want to produce clean burning candles!
- Place your mound of beeswax cappings inside a piece of straining material. You can use a strainer bag, cheese cloth or t-shirt material. I search for old, clean nylon curtains at the thrift store!
- Carefully place your glass (with edges protected) on top of the cooler with the edges of the strainer material within reach.You need to suspend the cappings over the water reservoir in the bottom. We do not want it to touch the water.This can be accomplished using tape, pins or the light weight on the glass top. Anything that pulls the mound of cappings up off the bottom.Gently pull all edges of the strainer material until the wax is suspended above the water.
- A piece of glass that completely covers the top of the cooler is necessary. Clean glass lets the energy of the sun through and prevents its release.In partnership with our insulated box material, the air inside the box will heat up and melt the beeswax. You may see some condensation on the inside of the glass. Don’t worry, this is ok.With a little water in the bottom, beeswax cappings suspended above (on strainer material) and a tight-fitting glass top. You only need 2 more items. A sunny day and patience.Here in South Carolina it is hot as @#[email protected] in the summer. My small melter does a great job of melting beeswax by the end of the day. Place your wax melter in a sunny location out of the way. And, don’t open it to take a peek, LOL.
Tips & Precautions for Using Your Solar Wax Melter
Working with glass must be done with care. A suitable piece of “safety glass” is the best option. But, an old window works well as long as it will fit your melter box tightly.
If you have nothing else, you can purchase window pane glass at most small hardware stores. ($8) It will break easily and it will cut you too.
Children should not be involved with this process. And, I always tape the edges of any piece of glass to reduce the chance of cuts.
Removing Melted Beeswax From The Melter
Once the day is over and all the wax has melted, you are almost done. It gets really hot inside the box. Do not remove the glass or contents too quickly.
Let the box cool in the shade for an hour or two. Carefully remove the glass top-using 2 hands.
The strainer material will have some dark, gunky beeswax “stuff” on top. We call this “slum gum”. I throw it away!
In the bottom of your cooler, you will find beautiful wax. Underneath the wax is the water that we added earlier. It will have honey residue. Do not feed this to the bees-it can make them sick.
Now you know how to make your own solar beeswax melter and use it. Depending on your process and purpose for the wax – you may decide to do a bit more beeswax cleaning.
Beeswax is used for many so crafting projects – you can even make your own Christmas Ornaments. Enjoy the many useful projects that your homemade solar beeswax melter can help you make.