One of the bonuses of having a top bar hive, like the Honey Cow, is the production of beeswax. Wax can be used for a variety of things, like homemade remedies and salves, bee lure, creative candles, or sculptures.
Most people melt beeswax in a double boiler, which is a container of wax within a container of water. You simply heat the water container, and the wax melts. But that approach uses valuable energy and time.
The solar wax melter is basically a simple solar oven. It consists of an outer box, insulation, inner heat chamber, wax screen, wax container, and a clear top. The raw comb is placed on a screen, and as the sun heats the oven, the wax slowly drips through the screen into the container below. You are left with a nice chunk of screened wax.
By creating a solar wax melter, you can save all that wonderful beeswax, energy and time by just dropping in your chunks of comb, and letting the sun do the hard work!
Pan – we use a cheap, aluminum roasting pan, but many thing could be used
1X8 by 8 ft lumber
1X1 by 8 ft lumber
1X2 by 8 ft lumber
50” X 39” sheet metal
19” X 14” shade cloth or screen
22 X 1 1/2” wood screws
30 X 3/4” wood screws
24 X 3/4” self tapping sheet metal screws
27” X 24” greenhouse plastic
Perlite, vermiculite, sawdust, rice hulls, or any light insulation material
1/4” drill bit
For insulation, we use perlite, but any loose fill material should work well. Sawdust, rice hulls, vermiculite, shredded paper, and wood ash are good candidates.
The Solar Wax Melter is easy to use. In the morning of a bright, sunny day, place a few chunks of comb on the screen. Adjust the orientation of the box throughout the day so that it tracks the sun. The wax should melt fastest between 10 am and 2 pm. We are able to melt a full comb in 10 minutes during the hottest hours of the day.
It is a good idea to place a few small stones on the lid to help hold the plastic against the rim of the inner box, making a good seal. The box should obtain temperatures of 200 degrees F or more.
When the wax has melted, remove the pan and pop out your chunk of wax. You can continue to add comb to build up a large chunk of wax for storage or projects.
The wax melter can also be used as a solar oven for cooking small meals or pasteurizing water when you’re not melting wax.