Starting in spring, honeybees at the Little House on Pine turn nectar into wax comb. By autumn, we’re getting ready to make candles.
After harvesting the honey, we leave the honey-speckled frames outside for the bees to recover some of their stolen food. We store the frames out of direct sunlight to prevent the wax from melting onto the ground. To start making candles with beeswax, we first have give the wax a thorough cleaning. We boil it in a candlemaking pitcher, which causes impurities in the comb to sink to the bottom as the wax rises to the top.
Once the wax pools to the top of the water, we filter the liquid wax and water by pouring it through an old T-shirt into a wide, flat bin outside. We leave the wax and water to cool overnight. By morning, the wax floats in clean sheets on top of the water used to boil it.
Melt the wax in an old pot or candle making pitcher on medium low heat. The temperature of the wax must not exceed 185°F. Use a candlemaking thermometer
or, better yet, a sonic thermometer, to monitor the temperature.
As the wax melts, prepare jars with by centering candle wicks using fancy metal candle wick centering devices. While the metal devices make it easy, when making lots of candles we’ll brace the wicks to pencils centered across the jar opening. We tie the wick bottoms to toothpicks to keep them from floating askew in the hot wax.
Pour the melted wax slowly into the jar in layers about half an inch thick. As each layer cools, pour the next layer on.
The finished beeswax candle offers light and the warmth of appreciation for our friends, the honeybees.