Beeswax is a popular product. It is used in balms, lotions, soaps, as well as candles. Even if you are not a beekeeper, it is easy to come by. Major craft store chains carry it year-round as well as it being readily available online from suppliers. But once you get a block of beeswax, do you know how to melt it safely?
For starters, there are three popular methods for melting this natural item. They are: solar energy, crock pot, and double boiler.
Solar energy – this method involves a solar oven. You can either buy one or build one yourself. It doesn’t have to be fancy; just large enough to a container with beeswax. The device should be able to hold (retain heat), but not get so hot as the wax would scorch or reach its flash point.
For peace of mind, use a thermometer to periodically check the temperature. If using a crock pot or double boiler, simply lower the heat setting. However, if you are using solar energy, slightly open the lid/top cover to air in and lower the temperature of the heating chamber.
Crock pot – with most crock pots, the temperature can be controlled. Wax is placed in container which is placed inside the crock. Please note that this step is important especially if you use the crock pot for cooking. (Beeswax can be difficult to completely remove). The unit is turned on at a low setting and allowed to melt slowly.
Double boiler – partially fill the bottom pan of the double boiler and place the top pan on top. Within this top pan, place the beeswax. Turn on the stove to a medium low heat and wait for the wax to melt. As the wax melts, make sure the bottom pan does not burn dry. (This will rapidly raise the temperature of the wax to the point it could scorch or reach its flash point).
Speaking of flash point; it is the point at which the beeswax will begin to burn and flame up. This is the key reason never to leave your beeswax unattended during the melting process.
Regardless of which method you use, remember that the key is a gentle heat. What is a gentle heat you ask? Beeswax begins to melt in the range of 143F – 151F. At temperatures beyond 170F, beeswax loses its aroma. It will also begin to darken in color. The flash point for beeswax is in the range of 400F.
As beeswax melt it becomes clear in color regardless of whether the original color of the beeswax block may be. (Color may range from nearly white to yellow to deep amber). But once the cooling process has begun, it begins to revert back to its original color.
Once the beeswax is melted, immediately remove it from heat. Now is the point to pour it for candles or to mix in with oils and butters to create lotions and balms. If the wax begins to set up, just put it back over the heat source (whether you use solar energy, crock pot, or double boiler).
So go ahead and use beeswax in your projects. You have several methods to choose from. Just don’t leave it unattended and remove it from heat as soon as it is melted.