I am part of a co-op that uses top bar hives. I have the wax from our pressing and have not perfected an efficient way to render wax. I have a large stainless steel pot and put chunks of wax in a painter bax on top of a steel veg. steamer, then fill with water and weight with a large brick. This is slow, renders mostly small amounts of wax at a time, takes lots of water and energy. Is there a better way?
Good question. We haven’t perfected wax rendering either. I’ve tried a few different methods: Solar melting with a standard solar wax melter, in a pot of water like you’ve described, and in the oven on sloped aluminum cooking pans with holes in the bottom (like the kind used for baking Thanksgiving turkey).
All methods work best with wax that is already very clean – I.E. wax that wasn’t used for brood. If you are going to throw in a lot of old, brood combs, the pot method is probably best out of the three I’ve mentioned.
Solar melting works great as long as the weather cooperates. You can throw in a bunch of wax in the morning, go to work, and hopefully come home to some chunks of beautiful, clean wax. This method won’t do a LOT of wax at a time though, so it can take a while and a lot of coordination with the weather.
The pot method is okay, but as you’ve said, it takes a lot of energy, is messy, and the return can be little compared to the effort exerted.
My friend David came up with the idea of using those inexpensive aluminum cooking pans that come in various sizes. He arranges them in such a way that there is a slight slope, and he pokes very small holes at the base of the slope of the pans. Below the holes he puts a couple more pans with a quarter inch of water in the bottom to catch the wax. He turns on the oven to the lowest setting, puts the contraption in with a bit of wax at the top of the sloped pans and comes back in 30 minutes to an hour. I tried it and it created some very clean wax and I didn’t have to deal with a bag if disgusting wax, boiling water, etc. However, it has a similar issue to that of the solar wax melter, in that you can’t do much at once. But it does get around the problem of relying on the weather!
Another method I’m interested in but haven’t tried yet can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NJN0G4_oYM
Here’s another idea that seems interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fvEI7Nl … re=related
There are online instructions for solar wax melters. Mine is a box with removable glass top. The box is slanted with the legs. Inside the box is a raised floor lined with metal sheeting. When dirty wax, frames etc. are placed on the floor and the lid replaced, assuming a warm sunny day, the wax melts quickly and runs down the floor to a container below the floor. My box holds two standard hive frames. Loose wax can also be put on it with some restricting device to keep it from flow down the board.