Solar Wax Melters

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Alastair

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A question - Today I melted some manky old brood comb and the wax has come out an unpleasant dark shade, not the nice yellow of the first batch.

Probably a silly question but does anyone know if a way exists to make this wax more yellow?
 
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brood comb is best used on the fire. slumgum is a pain.
Yep .... they make great fire lighters... I read somewhere that the energy required to melt out brood combs outweighs the income derived from the wax.... but the commercial melters probably wont tell u that, eh.

On a tangent, I got a sample of foundation from a mate the other day who makes his own .... it was very thick .
 

Mummzie

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A question - Today I melted some manky old brood comb and the wax has come out an unpleasant dark shade, not the nice yellow of the first batch.

Probably a silly question but does anyone know if a way exists to make this wax more yellow?
the theory is you can filter the pollen out of it .....just dont ask me how.
If you can make a very thin sheet, and leave it in sunlight for a prolonged period, it will bleach.

Short answer is don't bother melting out dark frames. The amount of wax is minimal and its always very dark.
I usually re-melt it in water and allow the dross to settle on the bottom of the wax, scraping it off before it gets totally cold. It doesn't improve the colour much tho
 
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Alastair

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Well this thing has a seive to catch the slumgum, and the sun is free (y).

The wax is still contaminated though with probably minute particles of blackness :(.

As to the economics commercially, I can remember melting hundreds or thousands of old brood combs when working for Bray and Gosset. There was a large tank which was heated by a nearby diesel boiler, we used to put on a big pair of rubber gloves then all the queen excluders which was around 6 thousand of them got melted, and all the "rummies", brood combs past their useful life. As a layer of wax built up on top some water was added to overflow the wax into tins, the slumgum was also scooped up and put into sacks which were squished in an underwater press to get the last bit of wax out.

Had to do all this by plunging your gloved hands into the boiling water to pull frames or excluders or whatever out, so had a 4 gallon tin of cold water next to it to plunge your hands straight into afterwards to avoid the gloves getting too hot and causing burns. No OSH back then obviously. It was a very hot job but was normally done during cold times in winter so at least you didn't get bitten by those freezing cold Leeston winter days :oops:.

All this was probably rendered economic by the very minimal wages we were paid LOL, when I think about it, the place was pretty much run by teenagers when I was there.

The stink of the slumgum penetrated every pore of your body and no amount of washing removed it, just had to smell bad through the process and for several days afterwards.

If the wax came out brown it stayed that way, I've always wondered though if there would be a way to lighten it.
 
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Alastair

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the theory is you can filter the pollen out of it .....just dont ask me how.
If you can make a very thin sheet, and leave it in sunlight for a prolonged period, it will bleach.

Short answer is don't bother melting out dark frames. The amount of wax is minimal and its always very dark.
I usually re-melt it in water and allow the dross to settle on the bottom of the wax, scraping it off before it gets totally cold. It doesn't improve the colour much tho

Good info Mummzie. In the past I have left brown wax out in the sun and it does lighten, but tends to turn more white, rather than a nice yellow. I suspect you will be right though, that if a fine enough filter was used it may take out the microscopic particles that cause the darkening.

I'll try to figure out some filtration method and see what can be done. I'll also try Trevors method of letting it sit over water and see if some of the gunk will go into the water.
 

Mummzie

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I'll try to figure out some filtration method and see what can be done. I'll also try Trevors method of letting it sit over water and see if some of the gunk will go into the water.
Nicks article is a good read, if only to find out that everything I have experienced is common ground.
I have tried cotton cloth (pillow cases) as filters, works ok but leaves a lot of wax in the cloth and clogs up. Not much fun to sleep on after either. Muslin is too open. Paper towels absorb too much wax. There is a reasonably fine nylon insect cloth available at hardware stores that with multiple layers makes a reasonable filter, and with a bit of a rub releases the crud- making it re-usable.
I was starting to play with dacron wadding (quilt inners) but I think we ran out of summer, got locked down and haven't gone back to it.
I will be very interested in anything you find works.
 

Mummzie

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20210413_211350.jpg
here s my colour range. The one in the foreground will be from brood frames. the bumpy one will have been cappings and can be paler than that.
 
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We still melt out combs in a hot water bath fired by a diesel burner .... but have insulated freezer gloves . The slum gets scooped into moulds and sent south to the professionals for further wax extraction. To be honest, I don't think the whole process is very cost effective, but we end up with washed combs for re use.
Cappings wax goes into muslin cloth and slung into a 200 lt water jacketed melter from which runs out beatifull yellow wax .
 

Mummzie

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How about fine metal mesh like from screen doors? You could melt off caught wax (boiling water or in solar heater) and reuse the cleaned screen
a lot of the particulates are smaller than the screen mesh and pass thru. The wax will solidify in the screen at room temperature so the wax/water has to remain hot enough to pass through. I'm not saying it wont work - but retaining the wax at melted temperatures has been the biggest difficulty in finding a home filtering system.
That said- Alastair has a turbo charged melter compared to my polystyrene box and glass lid.🤑
 
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NickWallingford

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Cloakes Honey had the most sophisticated wax recovery system I encountered in the 1970s. They had two presses, air powered, and a large wood fired boiler.

Old combs would be melted in a large container, then the slurry bucketed into the press, with a burlap lining piece. After each bucket, the burlap would be folded over, and a 'follower' board inserted. I can't remember how many of these 'cakes' each press held, but once the pressure was put on, the wax would flow. Having two presses, you would alternate, emptying and refilling one while the other was pressed.

The stuff that came out was quite dry and crumbly - I remember Mrs. Cloake reckoned it was the best thing ever for her roses.

Harry admitted that there was some wax left in, knowing that a longer press might recover more. One of the workers took him up on it and, in his own time, re-pressed the output again. He got enough to pay wages but not a lot more, as I recall...

I kind of recall Harry getting into some disputes in the NZ Bkpr re: wax recovery efficiency. Here's that reference:

 
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187
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Southland
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catch is there is double glazing and there is double glazing.
you need to know what spec it is.
this is commonly done for housing so you can tune the windows to match your climate and house build.
We used to have a solar melter, home built, looked very much like the one @NickWallingford put up, and tried double glazing, but found it didn't work, now I know why! Went to single glazing and it worked fine, even in Southland.
 
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That's nice Mummzie (y)

The stuff I got today was worse than that. I don't think up to candle making grade.
Maybe just try and make some candles and don't worry about the colour as of yet. It'll be good enough for candles for yourself and friends and even if you sell them, some people actually do like the different colour ranges in the beeswax we found. Candle making is a lot of fun and you got the wax, I wouldn't over think it. ;)
 

Trevor Gillbanks

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I have fiddled with straining/filtering the recovered wax for several years.
My current material is steel wool (steelo pads). I tear up the steel wool into little pieces and then drip the recovered wax through a small hole in the melter tray. Sometimes I put wax 2 or 3 times to get it clean. I still also use the water system to lighten the colour of the wax.
Overly dark wax I use to make wood finishes or for waxing plastic frames.

I was going to upload some photos but the new programme will not accept my photos (too large). Also will not go into the media section. Sorry.
 


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