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How to Render Beeswax: An Easy-to-Follow Guide

I am an avid beekeeper and passionate crafter that loves to incorporate all things bees into my work.

Learn to render your own beeswax with this easy-to-follow guide by Amanda Payne.

Learn to render your own beeswax with this easy-to-follow guide by Amanda Payne.

What Is Beeswax?

For thousands of years, people have used melted beeswax in a variety of ways. Did you know that you can make candles, cosmetics, crayons, ornaments, and so much more?

Honeycomb is beeswax. It comes from honey bees. The bees prepare this by using wax glands on their abdomen. After worker bees glut on honey, those glands excrete a liquid wax that dries into tiny flakes of wax or scales.

Bees chew the wax until it is flexible and clay-like. Then they shape it into hexagonal cells, which form the honeycomb. The comb stores honey and pollen, helps them raise brood, and serves other purposes.

Benefits of Beeswax

Where to Get Beeswax

Beeswax is not all alike, as it can vary broadly depending on the country, the forage, the species, and the cleaning method. Additionally, each country grades it differently.

You can find it at many online and brick-and-mortar stores. You can get it clean, partially clean, raw (dirty), or bleached. They have it in pellets, sheets, or blocks. You can even find it with fragrances added.

It should have a yellow-tinted color and a sweet smell unless it is bleached. If it is pure white it was bleached. White wax is good if you want to add dye and create something colorful. It is valuable in making white candles as well.

During honey extraction, beekeepers save leftover wax cappings from decapping the honeycomb. We also gather wax from scraping the boxes and frames and any other bits we find that the bees do not need. Some will remove all wax from the frames. I personally do not recommend that. It causes the bees to work harder to rebuild, which also means they will produce less honey.

Sometimes colonies die, leaving wax in the box and on the frames. We possibly will not know what caused their death. It is best to collect and use the wax with crafts instead of using it in the hives. They could have had a disease that a new colony may potentially contract.

Honeycomb Cappings

My latest batch of wax came from our beehives when we robbed honey. We set one frame at a time on a board across the bucket. We used fillet knives to decap the honeycomb, and the caps fell inside the bucket.

My latest batch of wax came from our beehives when we robbed honey. We set one frame at a time on a board across the bucket. We used fillet knives to decap the honeycomb, and the caps fell inside the bucket.

What Does It Mean to Render Beeswax?

Rendering is known as cleaning. It removes debris such as honey, propolis, bee parts, splinters, and other impurities. No one wants dirty lip balm or lotion. It is not difficult to do. Plus, it makes the house smell wonderful.

Read More From Feltmagnet

Samples of Dirty Wax

Rendering Equipment

Whatever pans and utensils you use during rendering can not be used for cooking. The wax coats everything and is very difficult to remove. Even if they are waxy, they are reusable, so do not throw them out.

Here is what you will need:

  • Cheesecloth for draining honey, if needed, and heating wax.
  • Five-gallon bucket for draining honey if needed.
  • Metal or plastic fine strainer for rinsing wax before rendering.
  • An outside water source, such as a spigot, bucket of water, or hose to rinse the dirty wax.
  • Extra deep foil pan for heating in the oven.
  • Tongs for moving the hot cheesecloth around and removing it from the pan.
  • Paper plate or old newspaper for placing the tongs and cheesecloth once removed from the pan.
  • Butter knife for prying hardened wax free from the foil pan.
  • Paper towels for drying.
  • Airtight container or plastic bag for storage.

Rinsed Cappings

When rendering beeswax, previously rinsed cappings will be placed in cheesecloth, put into a foil pan with water, and baked until melted.

When rendering beeswax, previously rinsed cappings will be placed in cheesecloth, put into a foil pan with water, and baked until melted.

Rendering Beeswax With Cheesecloth in the Oven (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Now it is time to render it. If you have collected wax from your hives instead of buying rendered wax, you first need to drain the wax of all honey. We do not want to waste even one drop of delicious honey.

The honey will drain best in a warm area away from bees. Place the honeycomb in a cheesecloth or strainer. Let it hang suspended from the bottom of the five-gallon bucket. Use a strong hook and check the bucket occasionally to ensure the cloth has not slipped.

  1. Put the wax in a fine strainer. Take it outside and lightly run a cold water bath from a water hose over the wax until it looks mainly clean.
  2. Add the rinsed wax to a cheesecloth. Leave enough room to tie the top of the cheesecloth with the ends. If you are not ready to melt it, leave it out of the cheesecloth, pat it dry with paper towels, and store it in a dry location. If it is wet, it could get moldy.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 °F. Beeswax is flammable at a temperature of about 400 °F. Plus, too high of a temperature will darken the color and diminish the natural smell of honey. Monitor the wax carefully by staying in the kitchen and frequently checking for smoke or flames.
  4. Fill an extra deep foil pan with a couple of inches of water.
  5. Place the cheesecloth with wax inside the foil pan.
  6. Put the pan in the oven and heat until the wax has melted.
  7. Carefully remove the pan from the oven using oven mitts.
  8. With a set of tongs, gently move the cheesecloth around, making sure all wax has melted and is floating in the water. If not, put it back in the oven. If so, put it in a safe out-of-the-way place.
  9. Lay the cheesecloth and tongs on a paper plate to cool.
  10. The cloth will have trash from the wax still inside. Once it has cooled, you can peel the trash away and use the cloth again and again.
  11. Let the wax harden overnight. During hardening, the wax floats to the surface and forms a solid sheet.
  12. Once hardened, press around the edges of the wax with a butter knife if needed to break the wax loose.
  13. Remove from the pan, pat dry with paper towels, and let it air dry.
  14. Toss the water from the pan outside. Do not pour it down the drain as it can clog them.

Beautifully Rendered Beeswax

Beautiful beeswax that I rendered from saved cappings.

Beautiful beeswax that I rendered from saved cappings.

How to Store Beeswax

You can create something right away or store the beeswax for later use. To store, put it in an airtight container or plastic bag to keep it clean and dry. Only store it after it is thoroughly dry.

When Does Beeswax Expire?

Rendered beeswax will keep for eternity as long as it is kept plain with no perishable additives. As it ages, it can produce a powdery substance called bloom. Bloom comes out from the wax. It is harmless and can be buffed off and used as expected.

Enjoy Your Creations!

Rendering beeswax is a fun skill to have, especially if you are crafty. Imagine all of the products you will be able to make: skincare products, candles, beauty products, crayons, ornaments, and an array of crafts.

Safety Note: If you make skincare products do a patch test on your skin the same as you would with any other new product. On clean, dry skin, test the inside of the wrist, the neck, inward thigh, or the back of an earlobe. After 24 hours, you can safely use the product if there is no reaction.

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© 2021 Amanda Payne