Harvesting wax

I thought it was time I reduced all those old combs to something easier to store.

Melting wax in a bain marie

Melting wax in a bain marie

How difficult could that be?

Quite messy actually.

Starts out looking like a sensible kitchen chemistry experiment. Nice clean equipment, lovely clean wax melting on a layer of hot water in a bain marie.

I began adding more comb (some not as pretty as this picture). Keen to get rid of as many old combs as possible, I probably stuffed rather too many into the bowl for the amount of water I had.

Getting messier


As the crud began building up, I used an old kitchen strainer to trawl out the bits of insect, coccoon etc which were accumulating. Wax melts around 65C (149F in old money) and you need to warm the strainer first or it cools the melt and everything solidifies again. After dipping it in you let the wax melt through the strainer as you pull it out. By this point you’re thinking “I may as well carry on because there’s going to be just as much cleaning if I stop now or finish the job.”

So after ditching the student dinner bit (the chickens wouldn’t go near it) we pour the wax & water melt into some cheap silicone bread moulds from Poundland to cool. These promptly reveal why they’re cheap – the thin walls flop and collapse, spilling hot water and wax all over the sink area, fortunately freezing in place before it can block the drain.

Wax cake – rather like lard floating on water

The final result is fairly clean wax, although somewhat reminiscent of the scene in “Fight Club” where they steal some human body fat from a hospital. If you stick your finger into the liquid, a coccoon of wax instantly forms round your finger   8)

All that remains to be done is to spend the next aeon cleaning the kitchen work area and dropping stray bits of wax into the cooling moulds, whilst reflecting on how all the YouTube videos seemed to be done in an outbuilding with a concrete floor.

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3 Responses to Harvesting wax

  1. simplebees says:

    My wife sends her sympathy for the kitchen floor and the equipment. She says let her know in about 3 weeks how you get on with removing the wax.

    Gareth, West Oxfordshire


  2. hunneybun says:

    At the risk of sounding heartless I really laughed when I read this – I’m so glad you are a year ahead of me! I like your title too – “harvesting” sounds so purposeful and efficient!


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