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How do you make wax?

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2008-08-08 16:40:23

Beeswax is made by bees. They make their honeycomb cells

from it. The cells are for their larvae, and for storing honey and

pollen. Natural beeswax is yellowish. Candle wax is made

from beeswax, by bleaching and purifying it. Modelling wax

and various polishes are made in a similar way, from beeswax.

Paraffin wax is made by a distillation process, from petrol

or from shale, a type of soft rock. Various waxes are also secreted

by some insects, whales, plants and animals. Synthetic waxes are

also manufactured. To make candle wax from actual beeswax

from the hive, separate the wax from the honey (and from the bees,

of course!) Put the wax in a saucepan or suitable container and

heat it gently in hot water. Beeswax melts at about 63oC. Don't

heat the water above 85oC because the beeswax will discolour. Stir

often. Pour the melted beeswax into a hot wet linen bag. Squeeze

the bag over a wet pot. Half fill the pot with hot water and

reheat. Pour the molten wax onto a wet surface, making numerous

'cakes' each about an ounce or so in weight. The result will be

clear, but yellowish, 'refined' beeswax that you can work with. If

you want to make 'white' beeswax you will have to bleach it. There

are various ways of doing this. One way is 'sun bleaching', by

melting the beeswax, making it into thin ribbons and laying them

out in the sun. (If you live in Italy or Africa, this might be

easy. If you live in Siberia or the South Georgia and Sandwich

Islands (SSGSI) this might be a bit more difficult.) If everything

is in your favour, the beeswax, if it bleaches at all, will be

ready in about 3 to 5 weeks. There are alternative chemical methods

that will bleach beeswax, but these involve using poisonous gas or

acids. However, you can also buy refined beeswax from a suppliers

of materials for candle-makers. Beeswax sheets can be softened by

hand at hand temperature. There are a variety of different waxes

available to candle makers. Often they are blends e.g. of paraffin

wax with some beeswax. Beeswax dissolved in Turpentine, and blended

with Linseed Oil if required, produces furniture wax/polish.

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