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quality and colors of beeswax


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Is there anyone on this board who works in beeswax primarily? Perhaps a beekeeper? One week ago I bought a 50lb lot of beeswax from an old-time beekeeper. I had to render it myself (we're not talking just straining through a cheese cloth here.) The colors of the bricks varied from dark olive to brick red. There were only about four bricks of mustard yellow wax. According to the seller the colors varied because of what he put in the solar extractor. We saw his honey and it looked like the darkest molasses I've ever seen. He has 80 hives and is starting to wrap them up for retirement. Now I know I didn't get pure cappings wax...it was brood wax for the most part with the bits of larvae and slumgum to prove it. A lot of it had honey oozing from it. I weighed all of the blocks before melting and I had 51lbs...it looks like I'm going to have 45lbs of finished wax.

My questions relating to the background info is this: will this wax burn effectively? Will people want to buy candles made in these colors or will I have to dye it? Should I do a blend of this wax with another...like paraffin? Due to a week's worth of work for this, I already feel like I overpaid for this wax...so please be gentle with your comments. :(

Much of it looks like bayberry wax, so I'm thinking I could buy bayberry fragrance to add to it. It doesn't have a strong honey smell so that shouldn't be a problem.

Edited by evergreen
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If you paid more than $1.50 to $2.00 a lb. for the uncleaned wax, you paid too much IMHO. I don't like working with dark beeswax cause it is harder to wick, but it still makes a wonderful candle. I personally would not color it or mix it with any other wax. You don't say what kind of candles you will be making, but these are the wicks I use, so it will give you a starting point.........tea lights, LX12; votives, LX16; 3 x 6 or 3 x 3 pillars, #4 square braid; tapers, 2/0 square braid.

Bayberry wax is an olive green in color, just don't pawn your beeswax off as bayberry wax. Good luck!! :cool2:

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Thanks for your reply. I agree, I paid too much. The figures you quoted are about what I would expect to pay if I ever did this again ($1.50lb most likely)...and it would need to be the yellow capping wax. I paid $3/lb. I didn't realize it would need rendering and didn't really know what I was looking at. The wax didn't meet my expectations but I bought it anyway. I was told I would need to strain it with cheese cloth before doing whatever with it. It was far more of a chore than that.

I won't misrepresent the wax...I will be declaring it as beeswax...not bayberry. It doesn't have the lovely smell of yellow beeswax and it looks like bayberry, so I thought it might be more appealing with the added fragrance. I would mark it as such...fragranced beeswax.

I will be making tapers (I have an old tin mold) and may try dipping. I will also be making pillars and votives. I will be buying tealight cups. I have Eco-2 wicks that I bought for beeswax votives (based on the CS wick calculator) but they don't burn hot enough for commercially clean beeswax. I've been trying to decide what to buy for wicks all week. I came up with square braid 2/0 for the tapers and, I thought 60 ply flat braid for the pillars. I have a 3" ball mold and plus 3" and 4" diameter pillar molds that I would like to use.

I will look into your recommendations--thank you.

I even joined a beekeeping forum to get information there but I can't post my questions yet (no privileges on account).

Edited by evergreen
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Is there anyone on this board who works in beeswax primarily? Perhaps a beekeeper? One week ago I bought a 50lb lot of beeswax from an old-time beekeeper. I had to render it myself (we're not talking just straining through a cheese cloth here.) The colors of the bricks varied from dark olive to brick red. There were only about four bricks of mustard yellow wax. According to the seller the colors varied because of what he put in the solar extractor. We saw his honey and it looked like the darkest molasses I've ever seen. He has 80 hives and is starting to wrap them up for retirement. Now I know I didn't get pure cappings wax...it was brood wax for the most part with the bits of larvae and slumgum to prove it. A lot of it had honey oozing from it. I weighed all of the blocks before melting and I had 51lbs...it looks like I'm going to have 45lbs of finished wax.

My questions relating to the background info is this: will this wax burn effectively? Will people want to buy candles made in these colors or will I have to dye it? Should I do a blend of this wax with another...like paraffin? Due to a week's worth of work for this, I already feel like I overpaid for this wax...so please be gentle with your comments. :(

Much of it looks like bayberry wax, so I'm thinking I could buy bayberry fragrance to add to it. It doesn't have a strong honey smell so that shouldn't be a problem.

It sounds like you definitely did not get cappings wax and, unfortunately, I don't know how sellable the dark wax will be. People look for nice light yellow wax that has the honey smell. And, I'm not sure how well the candles will burn. I would go with 60 ply flat braided cotton wicks for the pillars and #2 square braided cotton wicks for everything else. Make sure you test the candles well to make sure they are going to burn.

My only other suggestion would be to have someone "bleach" the dark wax. You probably won't end up with white wax but it may at least end up a lighter yellow. (I know, this will only cost you more money but may be the only way to sell the candles)

Sorry you had this experience. Beekeepers like that give the rest of us a bad name.

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I would go with 60 ply flat braided cotton wicks for the pillars and #2 square braided cotton wicks for everything else.

Just to clarify, you think that the 2/0 square braided would be too small for tapers and I should get the #2 square braided? I'd like to order some wicks by Monday so I can start pouring and testing. Where would I send the wax to have it bleached?

My only test burn was with my first "strained" block and the wick self-extinguished. I started researching right away and discovered what I had to do on Sunday. I finally finished rendering all of the wax today and may just need to remelt some awkward size slabs for storage. I can finally begin the clean up. I found that some of my slabs stuck to the inside of the pot and others pulled away nicely (shrinking from the sides). I'm wondering if I'll have to make furniture polish with the waxes that didn't clean up as well. I kept the different colors in separate batches for processing--so some of them seem to have different qualities. Would I be able to use darker beeswax for body products like soap, massage bars, lip balm and lotion? I'm hoping that the darker beeswax isn't a skin irritant.

I've since figured out with the help of some online beekeeping info that this wax came from old combs. I saw a comparison photo of frames from years 1-4, and the stuff I got looked like 4 years old. From what the beekeeper said about not being able to give the hives the attention they deserve, it makes sense. My husband thinks he didn't "screw" me with this sale intentionally. The man didn't even know what kind of bees he has (we asked because we had them for one season) and he's had bees for about 60yrs. Initially, he didn't remember why I was there to meet him or what time! He got irritated when I asked about lighter/yellow blocks of wax and that I didn't want any of honey or the black stuff (slumgum, I know now)...I said it would clog the wick and he acted like I was from outer space..."Wax is wax...you just need to strain it. We can go in the house and wash off the honey." So...I made a bad call from inexperience with raw beeswax. I've bought the good stuff and had to pay $10+/lb from a more local keeper...that is beautiful stuff but it's really high priced. The money I thought I was saving by buying this uncleaned stuff was blown away by the labor, time, and wax soiling my pots, utensils, and tile floor, along with the wasted cheese cloth and pantyhose. Who knows about the electricity. Sorry, I'm ranting...

Thank you both, for your help! I hope to be able to use this wax for candles. I've been trying to work through this all week...I don't want to give up and feel like I lost $150 and all that time with nothing to show for it.

Edited by evergreen
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Just to clarify, you think that the 2/0 square braided would be too small for tapers and I should get the #2 square braided? I'd like to order some wicks by Monday so I can start pouring and testing. Where would I send the wax to have it bleached?

My only test burn was with my first "strained" block and the wick self-extinguished. I started researching right away and discovered what I had to do on Sunday. I finally finished rendering all of the wax today and may just need to remelt some awkward size slabs for storage. I can finally begin the clean up. I found that some of my slabs stuck to the inside of the pot and others pulled away nicely (shrinking from the sides). I'm wondering if I'll have to make furniture polish with the waxes that didn't clean up as well. I kept the different colors in separate batches for processing--so some of them seem to have different qualities. Would I be able to use darker beeswax for body products like soap, massage bars, lip balm and lotion? I'm hoping that the darker beeswax isn't a skin irritant.

I've since figured out with the help of some online beekeeping info that this wax came from old combs. I saw a comparison photo of frames from years 1-4, and the stuff I got looked like 4 years old. From what the beekeeper said about not being able to give the hives the attention they deserve, it makes sense. My husband thinks he didn't "screw" me with this sale intentionally. The man didn't even know what kind of bees he has (we asked because we had them for one season) and he's had bees for about 60yrs. Initially, he didn't remember why I was there to meet him or what time! He got irritated when I asked about lighter/yellow blocks of wax and that I didn't want any of honey or the black stuff (slumgum, I know now)...I said it would clog the wick and he acted like I was from outer space..."Wax is wax...you just need to strain it. We can go in the house and wash off the honey." So...I made a bad call from inexperience with raw beeswax. I've bought the good stuff and had to pay $10+/l from a more local keeper...that is beautiful stuff but it's really high priced. The money I thought I was saving by buying this uncleaned stuff was blown away by the labor, time, and wax soiling my pots, utensils, and tile floor, along with the wasted cheese cloth and pantyhose. Who knows about the electricity. Sorry, I'm ranting...

Thank you both, for your help! I hope to be able to use this wax for candles. I've been trying to work through this all week...I don't want to give up and feel like I lost $150 and all that time with nothing to show for it.

I have always #2 for everything except pillars and had no problems with it. That is what I would suggest.

I personally know of one beekeeper in Sacramento, CA that does refine white beeswax. Don't know if he would be interested in doing yours or not.

Have you talked to the beekeeper you bought the wax from and informed him of the problems? That would be my first step. Tell the guy he sold you some crappy wax and see if he makes the price right. If not, go from there.

Like I said before, I'm sorry you ran into this problem buying from a beekeeper, and I'm not sure what to do in your position.

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Thank you, simplybeelightful, for your help. Unfortunately, I can guarantee that I'm S-O-L in regards to going back to the seller. He was pretty difficult to deal with in the first place and his reaction would be that "wax is wax"....he already said that four or more times when I was there. He asked me if I was happy and I said that I was since I felt like I had some wax that I could work with. I was thinking it would clean up fine. While browsing the beekeeping forums, I found that most people saw that bleaching is best done in the sun with a sheet of wax that's less than an eighth of an inch thick. I'm going to melt down one small brick and pour it on a cookie sheet to see if it will lighten in the sun. Of course, I'm on the East Coast and a lack of sun might be an issue this time of year.

Anyway, on the bright side, I can add rendering beeswax to my list of traditional (homesteading) skills now! LOL

Edited by evergreen
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