Honey is often the main focus of beekeeping for most beekeepers, but it used to be that beeswax was much more valuable than honey. In fact, it once could be used as currency to pay debts and taxes. Even if harvesting wax isn’t your main focus, every beekeeper will inevitably accumulate beeswax. What do you do with all of that beeswax? Explore our how to guide to find tips for melting beeswax to prepare it for use, and discover some of our favorite things to do with beeswax.
An easy method for melting small quantities of beeswax for making candles is to use an old electric slow cooker, or “Crockpot™,” with a ceramic insert. Melting wax is messy business, so don’t try this with a slow cooker from your kitchen: Old slow cookers can be found at secondhand shops and tag sales, often for $10, or less. Having a dedicated slow cooker — or two — for your wax projects will simplify things, and help keep any wax-project mess contained.
To melt and filter raw wax in a Crockpot™ or slow cooker, follow these steps:
Now, your wax is clean and ready for use on bee equipment. You can further refine it with another round of melting and filtration, this time through coffee filters or paper towels, for crafting use, or for making soap and skincare products.
When slowly heating beeswax, it begins to melt after about two to three minutes and is usually fully melted in less than half an hour. For larger quantities of beeswax, it may take up to an hour.
Whether from scrapings removed while tending the hives, damaged comb that’s taken out of service, or wax collected during honey extraction, most of it has some kind of excellent, secondary use. Explore these options for recycling wax in the bee yard and using processed beeswax for crafts.
Many beekeepers simply toss wax scrapings on the ground when doing hive work. What a waste! Over the season, even just half a dozen hives can yield a couple of pounds of wax that can be recycled back into use for the bees. For instance, you could use it to give new plastic foundation an added coating of wax to make the new frames extra attractive to bees.
Take a lidded container out to your bee yard and put all the bits and pieces of wax in it while you work. Then, dump the collection into a solar wax melter as you leave the yard. At the end of the season, you’ll have a brick of wax, ready for clarifying and re-use.
There’s even a use for slumgum — the messy gunk left over after you’ve melted and clarified wax. In large quantities, it can be sold to commercial wax brokers for further chemical rendering of any residual beeswax. But if you have only small quantities, you can use it in compost for acid-loving plants like blueberries and azaleas.
Beeswax candles and molded wax figurines are easy to make and add a readily saleable, impulse-buy product when offered to your honey customers. And they make wonderful holiday gifts, often becoming treasured decorations that are carefully saved and displayed, year after year.
If you’ve never made candles before, you might want to start with our candle-making tools, supplies, and kits or read books about making beeswax candles. We carry a complete range of candle-making supplies, including beautiful European candle molds from Lyson. From large models to adorable little animal figures, we carry nearly a hundred different designs and sizes. We add new designs to our collection each season, so check back as it grows. Even if you don’t have any wax on hand, don’t worry, we sell that, too.
Do your sneakers’ shoelaces often slip or untie, even after you’ve double-knotted them? Try coating them with beeswax: Just take a bit of beeswax (even unclarified, straight from the hive) and rub it on the outer ends of the laces, from where they emerge at the uppermost eyelets to the ends. This adds friction, helping to keep your laces tied. Problem solved.
You can also use processed beeswax to make your own reusable food wrap, condition your favorite wooden cutting boards, or make homemade furniture polish. There are dozens of possibilities!
It’s easy to produce your own wax for candlemaking, personal care products, and use around the home and bee yard when you melt and refine the scraps collected during your everyday beekeeping tasks. Explore more uses for the beeswax and honey you gather from the hive in our Instructions and Resources Center.