Working With Beeswax

by Master Bedwyr Danwyn

(mka Theodore Lazcano)

Beeswax is an animal product that produces candles that are superior, although much more expensive, than tallow candles. Beeswax is harder, stronger and has a higher melting point than tallow, and even smells of honey!

Beeswax ready for hobby use may readily be found at craft stores, although at considerable expense. It often has a harder feel and is lacking the honey fragrance, and one has to speculate on how they have processed it. I prefer to buy my beeswax from the honey merchant at our farmer's market. It is less expensive and has an occasional inclusion of honey or bee bit! Another option is to go to a good health food store's bulk section. For instance, Green Star in Ithaca, NY presently sells beeswax bits for $3.70 a pound.

How To Prepare Beeswax For Candles

Caution: Melting beeswax is dangerous and should not be done by children.

1. If you buy your beeswax in bulk, it is best to turn it into ingots for storage and future use. Go to the Salvation Army and buy an old metal pitcher with large strain holes. Also buy an old muffin pan.

2. Put your pitcher on the stove on a LOW heat. Put bits of beeswax in. As they melt, stir with a chopstick and add more. Note that leaving the beeswax unattended is dangerous and may result in the beeswax catching fire.

3. Your beeswax may be used immediately, or you may pour it into the muffin pan. Once cool, your wax ingots will stick to the pan. To release, turn the muffin pan upside down, and run very hot top water over a single ingot, while holding over a bowl of cold water. The ingot will suddenly release and fall into the cold water. You may store your ingots for years and remelt as you wish.

4. If you desire a sheet of beeswax, pour the molten wax into a broad vessel (such as a high walled cookie pan) with very hot water in it. The wax will float on top of the water, and once it solidifies, it can be cut free at the sides to release your sheet. The thickness of your sheet depends of course on how much wax you pour in. If you wish to work the sheet by hand, warm the wax by holding it under very hot tap water (110 degrees F worked for me) until it becomes pliable. Be advised that heating it past this point will cause the wax to crumble (it goes thru a “state” change) as it approaches its melting point of 146 degrees F.

5. If white beeswax is desired, pour beeswax into sheets and place in the bright sun until it is bleached white. These sheets can be remelted into white ingots.

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