Yesterday I found a plastic bucket half full of old, mangled, honeycomb which looked as if I had chucked it in with some home brew to let yeast and water recover the last of the honey. There may even have been some hops with it. I needed the bucket so it was time to do something with the wax.
First I transferred it to a plastic bowl and added some rain water (the impurities in hard water tend to saponify wax). Then I put it in the microwave for an experimental few minutes at a time until the mucky wax had melted and formed a layer on top of the water. The water had separated the denser and the soluble materials from the molten wax.
When it had cooled and set I was able to remove the cake of wax/cocoons/hops and break it up. There was some debris on the bottom of the wax that I was able to scrape off easily. Then I got a throw-away kitchen cloth – a J Cloth – and tied it with string around the top of the bowl, leaving a depression in the middle to hold the broken-up wax which I added, together with a modicum of rain water again.
Into the microwave again for a few cautious minutes at a time until all that was going to go through the cloth had done so. I left it to cool overnight and now have a 12 ounce cake of beeswax, not quite of show bench quality but fine for everyday purposes. Actually, it looks better than some I have in view behind this computer screen that I have been selling gradually, so maybe I’ll give it one more filtering and turn it into 1 oz blocks or a candle or two.