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gifted a 5 gallon bucket of raw beeswax...Now what?

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Hello all,


A local brewery that I used to work for recently rehomed a bee colony (of approximately 50,000 bees!!!) during construction. The master bee keeper came and took the bees to his apiary. Then the brewers pressed the wax for the honey to use in a beer that will be specially brewed in honor of our buzzy little friends. The manager asked me if I wanted some beeswax, and an hour later she's at my house with a 5 gallon bucket full of raw beeswax!

I've never worked with beeswax. Never even researched or read about it. I googled how to clean it, and I'll start that process next week, but where should I go from here? My current candle line consistes of parasoy container candles and soy votives and tealights; That's all I have experience with.


I don't even know where to begin. Any tips on where I should start? My instinct says votives. Is that what you would do? Any guidance on where to start wick-wise? How much usable wax might I expect to get from this bucket (5 gallon bucket filled with large chunks)?


Would something cute like this http://www.bee-outside.com/rubbercandlemoldbuzzingbeeskep.aspx be overly ambitious for someone who has never worked with beeswax?


I'd appreciate any guidance from those with experience with something like this :)


Thanks so much in advance and happy weekend!!

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Oh, I was hoping to make candles out of it. I should have probably specified that. Is that possible with this type of raw beeswax or is candle beeswax processed some type of special way?

Also, how much of a dork does it make me that I'm just waiting for my husband to ask "what's in this bucket?" so that I can reply "None of your beeswax!!" :D

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Cleaning raw beeswax is easiest (i find) by melting it all and running it through several layers of felt. You may be surprised at how little finished wax comes from that 5 gallon bucket.

I tried wet rendering and only got about 6 ounces of finished wax cappings from a gallon of capping mixed with the honey. Talk about a let down.

Starting with beeswax candles is easiest IME with either tapers or bigger pillars (3 inch around). That skep in your picture may be ok to start with, the only challenge being the taper from the top. That one will take about 9-11 ounces of wax. I have a few similar in shape to that one that burn pretty well.

Smaller beeswax candles meant to be burned in containers, like votives, can get pretty darned hot, hot enough to shatter many glass votive holders if wicked for a traditional melt pool. Nothing was more frustrating, though, than making beeswax tea lights that burned correctly.

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Beeswax makes wonderful candles and  you definitely can use what you were gifted after it's cleaned real good.  A good thing to remember with beeswax is the darker the color the harder it will be to wick.   Since you already make votives, I'd play with those first.  Pillars & tapers are also great using beeswax.  I personally don't make container candles because the beeswax takes such a larger wick the containers can get way too hot.   Square braid wicking works the  best and I'd start with size 2/0 for votives and go from there.  I find silicone molds work best for me, as the beeswax can really stick to the metal, but a good silicone mold spray works with preventing that.  Also, a powdered mold release added to the wax helps.


Beeswax doesn't need to be melted to any high temperature..........just pour after it's melted.  Have fun!  :)

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Thanks for the responses.

@ TallTayl- the cleaning method I came across online involved pouring it through pantyhose. You like using felt? I have TONS of felt laying around. Just melt, pour through felt, melt, pour through felt, repeat until clean? Also, I've mentally prepared myself that I might not get a whole lot of usable wax. Don't want to be disappointed. But I think the whole thing will be fun regardless.

@ChrisR I'll keep that in mind that if that wax is dark, it will be harder to wick. That's interesting. Does it get darker as it gets older? Because the beekeeper estimated this hive to be 10-12 years old. If that wax is really dark, maybe I'll just get cute beehive molds and make little wax keepsakes for the beekeeper, brewers and managers of the restaurant instead of candles? That might be a nice gesture?

Speaking of...can anyone recommend a place to order small silicone beehive molds? Perhaps votive size. I did a search online and everything was either very large ( > 10oz) or surprisingly expensive. I'd love to try little beehive or rolled beeswax-looking votives.

I see little beehive votives on etsy so I know they exist!

Thanks again guys! I'm really excited about this project!

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When i clean wax now i melt and pour through 2-3 pieces of felt once. My wax usually gets clean enough. Sometimes, not often i will need to do it twice.

Panty hose should work, but may be a little messier. I have used muslin and it gets clogged as i pour, making a mess, esp if i pour too fast.

Beeswax ornaments are easy and very pretty. I use flat clay cookie molds lubed with a little silicone release spray. they're really popular during the holidays.

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I get my molds from Mann Lake Ltd.  They have quite a few bee skeps in various sizes:  http://www.mannlakeltd.com/beekeeping-supplies/category/page164.html


If the hive is that old, you may not get a lot of usable wax.  Last year at my son's job they took an old  hive out of the wall of a house and the wax was almost black and very dry, not usable at all.  Also plants like buckwheat makes the wax very dark.

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first, thank you guys SO MUCH for the awesome advice/ideas.


I have a million other things to get to first, but I ran a little bit through felt out of curiosity's sake. What a great method! I'm glad I didn't try some of the other stuff I've read online.


It's looking pretty dark. So I've decided that I'm going to use one of the little beehive molds Chris linked me to and make little ornaments like TallTayl suggested. I never would have thought of that if it weren't for this forum and you guys! And I think they'll make nice little keepsakes for everyone.


So, thanks again! So glad I found this forum. **high-fives!**

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