Working With Beeswax

Beeswax is truly wonderful stuff. It can be used in lotions and salves or made into candles. Shoes and boots can be waterproofed or polished with beeswax and it can be rubbed on metal tools to keep them from rusting. I have even used it on wooden drawer slides so they slide better. If you are buying beeswax from a large supplier for a project where you will be melting it look for it in little pellets as it is much easier to measure how much you need. Beeswax in a big block is surprisingly hard to cut as it sticks to your knife. I supposed you could try a thin wire, something like a piano wire or guitar string, but I can’t comment on how well that will work. I get my wax from local beekeepers and a small amount from my own hives. Hopefully my production will go up when I learn how to keep a colony alive through a Michigan winter. For what I do I generally use the wax in 1 oz increments so I melt it and pour it into a muffin tin, a bit over half full is 1 oz and full it is 2 oz. My stock of these was getting low so I decided to melt the 2.5 lb block I got at the farmers market in summer. I found a mold that will hold 1 lb and creates brake lines for 16 squares of 1 oz each. Plus as an added benefit it has a little bee in the center of each square. A word of warning, do not melt wax in anything you want to use for cooking again, you can never get all of it off. I picked up a 4-piece set of stock pots from Harbor Freight for about $20 that keep me out of trouble with my wife.

In the wintertime I like to melt my projects using our wood stove. To prevent scorching I do the double boiler method, that is have a larger pot of water with a smaller pot floating in the water and what I’m melting goes in the smaller pot. This way it will never be more than 212 degrees (the boiling point of water) so there will not be a hot spot that could burn what I’m working with.

Double boiler on wood stove
Double boiler on wood stove
2.5lb block of beeswax melting
2.5 lb block of beeswax melting

When the wax was melted I poured 1 lb into my nifty new mold and the rest into my old standby, the muffin tin. The first time you melt wax from a beekeeper there will usually be a little bit of sediment in the bottom that I try not to pour into whatever I’m making. Wipe it our of your melting pot with a piece of paper towel and you will have the best fire starter you have ever seen.


It takes wax a fair amount of time to cool and it shrinks a bit so it will separate easily from the mold. I liked my little squares so much I went ahead and re-melted another 1 lb batch from my muffin tin and cast them into the 1 oz squares as well.

16 one oz squares

16 one oz squares

Lastly let me say it smells amazing so consider beeswax for one of your future projects and try to buy your wax from a local beekeeper. There is usually someone selling honey at any farmers market so you can ask there. Also you might be able to save some money by offering to buy the “cappings” without the beekeeper processing them down to wax. The cappings are what is cut off the honey comb when honey is extracted. You will need to mix them with water and heat the mixture until the wax melts and floats to the surface. Let that cool and you will have a cake of wax with some crud stuck to the bottom that you will want to scrape off. There are additional steps you can do to get really clean wax, but I’m OK with a little of the hive in my wax.

What are your favorite uses for beeswax?