Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Solar Wax Melter

In an ideal world, honey would be relatively easy to harvest, the wax could be rendered with ease into a pure product to use in making other items, and clean-up would be minimal.

In reality, as one local expert said to Mark recently: "People get into it because of the bees, and get out of it because of the honey."

Honey is sticky. Every pest in a 3-mile radius figures out you've got some of it. And when you have vast quantities of old honey comb, you quickly realize there has to be a better way to deal with it than in your own kitchen.

Trust me: we tried the frugal method. I wrapped comb in cheesecloth, put it in a Crock-Pot, poured boiling water over it, and ended up with 1) a mess; 2) a broken wooden spoon; 3) a ruined mesh strainer; 4) a nasty bog of brackish water in my Crock-Pot; and 5) a buttery yellow disc of wax with brown goo in it. Verdict: we'll have to remelt and filter again, maybe through a coffee filter.

As Mark began migrating colonies and bringing home buckets full of comb, we decided to invest in a solar wax melter. Yes, you can build them yourself. There are many designs on the Internet. But we didn't have the time or skills. So Mark did the research, talked to a nice man in Wisconsin who builds them, and after what felt like an eternity, it arrived.

So today is our first attempt at using it. We have a bunch of old comb sitting in a large disposable aluminum pan lined with cheese cloth and door screen. A hole in the end should allow the melted wax to drain into the large loaf-shaped disposable aluminum pan.

My fingers are crossed.

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