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Solar Wax Extractor

For the survivalist that may take up beekeeping, here is a tool that you should have. There are many uses for beeswax, see section below for more information.

Solar Beeswax Rendering

When it comes to rendering beeswax, nothing works like a solar wax extractor or melter. The melter can be made from almost any materials found around the beekeeper's establishment and adapted to any size apiary.

The principles of wax extractor design are always the same, although the details of each specific apparatus may differ. Bits of wax, old comb and other scrapings from the hive are placed on a slanted (usually metal) tray inside a box. The box is then covered tightly with a glass top and oriented toward the sun. As the temperature rises inside the box, the wax melts and drips off the tray into the collector pan. This pan usually has slanted sides, facilitating removal of the wax block once it hardens. A suggested plan for building an extractor is shown below.

Usually, the inside of the box is painted black to absorb as much radiation as possible, facilitating heat buildup inside the melter. The melter should always be bee tight; honey bees are usually attracted to the odor of melting wax (often there is honey adhered to the wax) and this may promote robbing during nectar dearth's.

Wax Blocks

Generally, wax from a melter is extremely clean. The longer it stays liquid with the resultant settling of foreign materials, the cleaner it will become. Once a block of wax has hardened, foreign materials can be scraped off the bottom and if necessary, the cleaning process repeated.

Uniformity and absence of cracks in a wax block because of shrinkage is minimized by allowing beeswax to cool very slowly. The preferred mold is a bread pan with slanted sides.

Uses Of Beeswax

Beeswax has been used by many cultures dating back to ancient times for a variety of uses ranging from designs on fabrics to sealing wax for important documents, to cosmetics. Even today, beeswax is still used for grafting plants and making the finest candles available.


Grafting wax, used when two plants are grafted together, was originally made from beeswax. A good grafting wax must be pliable, non-toxic to the plant tissue, and last at least two months after the graft is made to allow time for the cells to grow and join together. Cheaper waxes are more commonly used to make today's grafting wax but some professionals still insist on beeswax. One formula for grafting wax that is probably hundreds of years old contains one part beeswax, one part plant resin, and sufficient lard or tallow to make the wax soft and pliable. Charcoal is frequently added to prevent the sun's rays from hitting the newly joined tissue. This remains a practical formula for home use today.


Beeswax makes the finest candles known. Properly made beeswax candles produce a bright flame, do not smoke or sputter, and produce a fragrant odor while being burned. These candles may be stored for long periods of time without deterioration because of the stability of the beeswax. However, over time some of the low melting point components in the wax may migrate to the surface and give the candle a frosty or antique appearance. This is called bloom and is easily removed by wiping the candle with a cloth. Candles may be dipped, molded, rolled, extruded, or cast. For the home candle maker, dipping and molding are the most practical.

Miscellaneous Uses

Every sewing kit should have a small cake of beeswax used to wax threads that are to be run through a needle. Carpenters use beeswax to coat nails being driven into hardwoods. Beeswax and turpentine make a fine care and/or furniture polish. Beeswax can be used to waterproof cloth. There are dozens of other uses for beeswax.

Note:Working with molten wax can be dangerous. Because waxes are flammable, they should be handled with care.

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Article By:
Malcolm T. Sanford